The growing global burden of diabetes

Monday, 14th November 2022 is World Diabetes Day. This is a day which draws attention to the condition of Diabetes and what can be done to treat and prevent it.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), ‘Diabetes is a chronic, metabolic disease characterised by elevated levels of blood glucose (or blood sugar), which leads over time to serious damage to the heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys and nerves.’ The WHO estimates that over 420 million people worldwide have diabetes. Most of these people live in low- and middle-income countries. Each year, 1.5 million deaths are directly attributed to diabetes globally, making it the seventh leading cause of death internationally. In line with our mission of providing high-quality healthcare, free of charge, IHP are distributing diabetes treatment to people around the world, for whom access to affordable treatment, including insulin, is not a luxury. It is critical to their livelihood and their survival. Yet currently, average medical expenditures amongst people with diabetes are approximately 2.3 times higher than those without it. From the Dominican Republic to Ukraine, we want to provide better access to medication to ensure that those living with diabetes can thrive.

As World Diabetes Day attempts to promote a greater understanding of diabetes, it is important to explain the disease categories. Diabetes type one is a condition in which the pancreas does not produce enough insulin. It is not preventable but can be managed with insulin injections. Type two diabetes, which is more common and usually occurs in adults, exists when the body either becomes resistant to insulin or doesn’t make enough of it. It is preventable and treatable, yet cases are increasing rapidly worldwide. A member of our team here at IHP, who has lived with type one diabetes for the last fifty-six years, was kind enough to share his experience with us.

After showing symptoms (losing weight, feeling tired, passing a lot of urine), he was able to access treatment very quickly, something he fears would not be the case in many countries. Furthermore, he notes that type one is complicated. It is typically self-administered and treated with insulin, but there is a lot of equipment and guidance needed to deal with this; the supply of insulin being, in his words, ‘critical.’ Moreover, our colleague informed us that ‘the right food is essential, such as a high-fibre diet.' People from rural communities would have far fewer dietary choices and would, therefore, not necessarily be able to achieve the needed fibre intake.

Throughout his time dealing with diabetes, he has witnessed ‘an evolution in diabetic care.’ The knowledge of healthcare professionals has become more and more specialised, with most GP surgeries now having a specialist diabetic nurse because of the increase in type two diabetes.  Envisaging how markedly different his treatment may have been in a less economically developed country, he notes that the readily accessible facilities for diabetics in high income countries are ‘very sophisticated.’ Hone blood testing is readily available, for instance. However, such treatments are expensive, and need to be updated every few weeks. Self-monitoring blood glucose is, therefore, much harder in less economically developed countries.

IHP was established to bridge the health gap for people in low- and middle-income countries. We want to ensure that everyone has access to high-quality healthcare, irrespective of where they live or their financial situation. As far as diabetes is concerned, this means affording people from deprived communities access to the best possible diabetes treatment, prevention, and detection. Diabetes doubles a person’s risk of early death, so providing healthcare solutions to those with the condition is essential. In Cherkasy in Ukraine, one doctor reported on the results of our work:

“When Glucophage appeared in the department, it was an unprecedented case for our diabetes type two patients; nothing from this group was available then, so when they came to us for treatment, there was a metformin drug here; it was like a miracle. They could not believe that it was free and in sufficient quantity. It is difficult to single out a patient case because a queue of patients forms on our doorstep as soon as the rumour spreads that we have this drug in the hospital.”

This testifies to the unmet need for diabetic treatment in vulnerable and disaster – hit communities, while also illustrating how change can be achieved and lives can be drastically improved.

I didn't know there were people who can care about the poor.

-Bernadette, IHP recipient in the DRC -

Bernadette, a patient at Panzi Hospital in the Democratic Republic of Congo

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, we work with the Panzi Hospital, which specialises in treating women who have suffered sexual violence. One of the services we offer is diabetes medication. These treatments were disseminated to over 12,400 patients, including 545 children. One patient, Bernadette, has suffered from diabetes for several years. She describes the treatment as ordinarily being ‘incredibly expensive’ in her country, to the point where she could ‘no longer get the medicine.’ However, at Panzi Hospital, we supplied her with free treatment, which she claims has significantly improved her health. She said, 'I didn't know there were people who can care about the poor.' With each donation, we are contributing towards fulfilling our vision to see a world in which all suffering due to lack of healthcare is eradicated.

Our mission at IHP is to serve those in need by providing long-dated and high-quality donated healthcare products. This World Diabetes Day, we hope to illuminate the growing global burden of diabetes. As the diagnosis of the condition increases, we hope to further our work in this area, providing more relief to those who need it most.

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£5 can help us to give 15 people treatment

£20 will provide 40 children with antibiotics

£100 will provide 400 pregnant women with life saving medicine.

£450 will provide am emergency medical kit to 60 families.

Whatever you give, you could be making a life-changing, even life-saving difference to someone every month.

See how your donation makes a difference

£5 is enough to source and send £600 worth of medical supplies a year to people in need; enough to help approximately 50 people around the world.

£10 is enough to source and send £1,200 worth of medical supplies a year to people in need; enough to help approximately 100 people around the world.

£25 is enough to provide around 750 treatments in a year, helping approximately 250 people in need; and for some, is the difference between life & death.

£100 is enough to provide medicines and supplies for approximately 1,000 people a year living in disaster-hit and vulnerable communites.

Whatever you give, you could be making a life-changing, even life-saving difference to someone every month.

Help us deliver access to medicine all year round

Join our giving community and help us transform the health outlook of families every single month.

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