These were the words from my mouth as i sit as a panelist in the Insulin4all panel of The Affordable Medicines Now Conference in Washignton D.C.
The Affordable Medicines Now is a training conference designed to build skills, knowledge and community among the activists (advocates) who power the movement for affordable medicines at the state, federal and international levels.
Hosted by O’NEILL INSTITUTE FOR NATIONAL AND GLOBAL HEALTH LAW and PUBLICCITIZEN with partnership from various local and international orgaisations; the objective was clear “Medications must be affordable” and its absolutely essential for us all to hold all stakeholders responsible.
From Rep Ro Khanna to Rep Peter Welch to Senators Cory Booker, Tina Schakowsky the messages were clear:
Medical innovations are from universities, public institutes of health (supported with tax payers money); while most of the medical innovators are not after the billions, their innovations are branded by MBA guys and profiteered.
Prescription drugs should be affordable.
The loopholes in governance that allows massive profiteering must be blocked and congress and governments must work in unison to ensure affordable health is for all.
In the midst of the well organized, highly educative meetup is my meeting Ola Ojewunmi a nigerian american disabled activist, founder @ProjectASCEND,cancer and 2 organ transplant survivor who spoke on the intersectionality (I was awed at the strength and resilience of Ola and i believe a lot of african feminist have a lot to learn from her view on intersectionality)
INSULIN4ALL AND HOW IT AFFECTS AFRICA
Africa although experiencing significant economic changes faces an epidemic of chronic non-communicable diseases (NCDs) including diabetes.
Some 425 million people worldwide, or 8.8% of adults 20-79 years, are estimated to have diabetes.
About 79% live in low and middle income countries. The number of people with diabetes increases to 451 million if the age is expanded to 18-99 years.
In Africa, an estimated 15.5 (9.8-27.8) million adults aged 20-79 years have diabetes, representing a regional prevalence of 2.1 (6%).
Africa also has the highest proportion of undiagnosed diabetes; over two-thirds (69.2%) of people with diabetes are unaware they have the disease and almost a third of them need insulin – both insulin-dependent type 1 children living with diabetes and people living with type 2 diabetes who need to take insulin.
An estimated 50,600 children and adolescents under the age of 20 are living with type 1 diabetes with nigeria being the 9th largest country with children living with diabetes worldwide.
INSULIN PRICING AND ITS TOLL ON AFRICA
Availability of insulin:
The inconvenience and additional travel costs as a result of unavailability of insulin in some localities will definitely lead to disrupted treatment and eventual poor management of blood glucose and eventually lead to complications.
Affordability of insulin
The pricing cost of insulin is high which makes it unaffordable.
In Nigeria, for instance it costs about 12usd to get a vial of insulin which may look relatively cheap as compared to a country like The United State of America; however for a country like nigeria where 92.1% live in poverty this is equivalent to a 10 working day wages.
The out of pocket cost of hospital visits, insulin and other consumables makes it difficult for People living with diabetes to maintain their blood glucose and also visit hospitals regularly for checkups.
Lack of healthcare workers and facilities factor in the lack of adequate care for example in countries like uganda, sierra leon,the gambia to mention a few.
Only 11 countries of the 58 countries in africa has universal health coverage.
Religion and Culture
A major issue affecting diabetes care especially with children living with diabetes is the tendency of parents and caregivers to quickly fall back to alternatives in cases of inability to buy insulin or visit hospitals.
Top of the list of alternatives are the religious and traditional centers.
Major setback to these care is the limited understanding and unwillingness to refer peopele to hospitals for adequate care.
This most often leads to complications and in some cases death.
It is to this end that it is important for us all as individuals to demand for action from the executive and legislative arms of government into ensuring
Insulin access being a high priority for government
Diabetes programmes must be integrated and evidence based, highlighting the scale of the problem and areas for effective intervention
1)Reduction in the purchase price of insulin and medical devices
2)Improving geographical access to insuilin by ensuring NCD clinics are available at primary care health centers closer to people in rural areas
3)Incorporate Insulin into healthcare coverage schemes