“Hundreds of thousands of people face death due to lack of insulin”

What is type 1 diabetes?

Also known as juvenile diabetes, type 1 diabetes is most common in children but can be diagnosed at any age. About 10% of people with diabetes have type 1.

It is an autoimmune condition that permanently destroys beta cells (insulin-producing cells) in the pancreas. This means that the body can no longer produce insulin. The cause of the beta cell destruction remains unclear.

Cartoon of a boy looking at where his pancreas would be located on his abdomen with the words: "Some people have type 1 diabetes. This means their pancreas doesn't produce insulin."

Insulin is a protein that comes from the pancreas which is located in the mid-abdomen. It allows glucose (sugar) to enter our cells to then be used as energy for the body, because our body needs glucose to operate.

In a healthy person, insulin is automatically released by the pancreas on a regular basis, and also when a person eats to counter the glucose that was consumed. In a person with Type 1 diabetes the body cannot use glucose properly because there is no insulin being produced, so levels of glucose in the blood rise to dangerous levels.

Cartoon of a key (insulin), letting sugar into a cell to later be used as energy with the words: "Insulin is the key that allows the body to use sugar (carbohydrate) as energy.
Cartoon of a girl giving herself an injection in the stomach with the words: "People with type 1 diabetes need to take insulin several times a day via injection."
Cartoon of a glucose meter, glucose bottle and syringe with the words: "Constant monitoring of blood sugar levels and carbohydrate intake is part of life with type 1 diabetes."
Cartoon of a graph of 24 hours of blood sugar levels with the words: "Managing diabetes is a complicated task even with the best tools and technology."

An estimated 40 million people are living with type 1 diabetes. A large proportion of these people with diabetes live in places with inadequate healthcare. This means that there are likely hundreds of thousands of people (or more) facing death due to lack of insulin.

Prices for insulin and diabetes management are completely unaffordable to many people living with the condition. For example, our friend Nasiru in Nigeria must pay more than $100USD per month on his diabetes supplies, but the average monthly salary for a middle-class Nigerian is only $480USD, which means that if he were employed, nearly 25% of his income would be spent on diabetes supplies. In other places supplies can cost as much as 75% of a family’s income.

Cartoon of insulin vial (with words 40% monthly income)& arrow pointing towards nearest clinic 100 miles with words: "Some people still cannot access their essential insulin and diabetes supplies."

People around the world with type 1 diabetes also face other obstacles like an inability to keep insulin cool, lack of test strips and other diabetes supplies, and lack of education about diabetes. Without health insurance (or even with a health insurance plan) a person in the United States or Canada can be forced to pay thousands of dollars per month for their diabetes supplies and therefore may not be able to afford them at all. The injustice of all of this is outrageous.

These issues are global in scale and they effect every single one of us, whether we live with diabetes, know someone with diabetes, or care about human rights. It is vital that we raise our voices with those at the heart of this issue to support our brothers and sisters with diabetes and demand an end to this injustice.

Cartoon of a tomb stone with the following description: "This is a life or death issue". "Without insulin, a person with type 1 diabetes cannot survive."

T1International is one of several organisations trying to raise this much-needed awareness. We hope to bring the community together, inspiring action to improve the situation of those living with type 1 diabetes who are not as lucky as others. You can support the cause right away by making a donation.

The Type 1 Access Charter

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