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Blog Action Day: Poverty and Diabetes

October 15, 2008

Diabetes doesn’t care who you are.

Diabetes doesn’t care how old or how young you are. Diabetes doesn’t care where you were born or where you live. It doesn’t care if you are American, Kenyan, Brazilian or Australian. Diabetes doesn’t care how fat or skinny you are. Diabetes doesn’t care if you are needlephobic, a chocoholic or really bad at math. Diabetes doesn’t care if you have a job or are unemployed. Diabetes doesn’t care if you have health insurance. Diabetes doesn’t care if you live a hundred miles away from the nearest doctor.

Diabetes doesn’t care how much money it costs just to stay alive. It doesn’t care about co-pays and deductibles. It doesn’t care about rising costs for healthy food. It doesn’t care if you’re a single mom or don’t speak English. It doesn’t care about the shortage of good doctors in rural areas.

It just doesn’t care.

Today is Blog Action Day and the topic for this year is Poverty. Poverty affects billions of people around the world. In a 2007 survey by the International Diabetes Federation, there is an estimated 440,000 children in the world with type 1 diabetes, and about half of these live in developing countries (with 92,000 in India alone). The life expectancy of children who live in these countries are anywhere from a few months to a couple of decades. Thousands of children cannot afford insulin or their testing supplies, which makes it impossible to manage blood sugar. Even in the United States, those living below the poverty level, who are without insurance because they are without a job, face staggering costs of insulin and tests strips, which can costs hundreds of dollars in a single month.

What can you do?

The International Diabetes Federation created a program to help children living in poverty in the developing countries called Life for a Child. The money goes to purchasing insulin, syringes, glucose meters, test strips and provide diabetes education and A1C testing for children in 17 developing countries. I just donated $5.00 and if we all donated $5.00 to help a child with diabetes living in poverty, think of how much longer that child could live.

But IDF isn’t the only organization helping those in need with diabetes. Insulin for Life, based in Australia, is another great organization doing their part to bring insulin to those who can’t afford it. Insulin for Life collects unused insulin and diabetes supplies that would otherwise be thrown out. There is also an Insulin for Life center based in Oklahoma, at the Oklahoma Diabetes Center. Visit their website to find out more about their organization and to donate to help make sending supplies a little more affordable. Their website says that for every $1 they receive, they are able to send $20 worth of supplies. Wow!

Diabetic Rockstar is a new organization that is pitching in to help uninsured people with diabetes. Find out more about their organization and how to send money or supplies.

Call to Action

Blog Action Day 08 has a long list of ways that you can help eradicate poverty. It’s crucial that we take steps to solve this problem, because poverty is not just about going hungry. It’s not just about being unemployed. It isn’t even about lack of health insurance. It’s about quality of life. It’s about giving people the opportunity to make a difference in the world and to live out their dreams, just like we can. There are 3 billion people who are living below the poverty line. Half our world.

I hope this post and the others that you read today encourage you to support someone who needs help, whether that person does or does not have diabetes. Even if you don’t send in a donation today for whatever reason, my last call to action is for all of us to realize just how damn lucky we are to have jobs, a roof over our heads, access to life-saving medication, the ability to purchase to nutritious food, and to log onto the Internet everyday where we can learn and support each other.

Very lucky indeed.

  1. October 15, 2008 10:03 AM

    Crazy. I work for a non-profit, and to my knowledge we don’t work specifically with diabetics… we are luck here.

    Check us out:

  2. October 15, 2008 10:08 AM

    it was great of you to donate. hopefully i can as well when i start working.

    for now, i turn to sites like freerice, kiva, and goodsearch, as ways to help alleviate poverty online.

    saw this post via the front page of blog action day. it’s great that you’re participating. 🙂

  3. October 15, 2008 10:56 AM

    I was thinking about this lately. My four-year-old is Type 1. At our walk a couple weeks ago, reps were handing out free meters. I thought, why aren’t they sending these to people who can’t afford them? (But isn’t it the test strips that really cost people?) When I picked up our Lantus last night at Walgreen’s and the print out said “Your insurance saved you $280.” I was blown away. Are there people who have to pay over $300 for three months of Lantus without any assistance from programs?

    Our family is lucky. We are both employed with good insurance. We can afford copays and to take time off of work if needed. We didn’t balk at driving 200 miles to get her care at a large Children’s Hospital.

    We expect her to live a long, healthy, full life. But I realize that there are many children around the world who do not have the means to do the same.

  4. October 15, 2008 11:02 AM

    I can answer that question. When you don’t have insurance you buy a meter that takes cheap strips or just don’t test and miss your metaformin and pretend everything will be just fine. My husband had a kidney infection earlier this year because of no insurance, now we have insurance but it won’t cover the diabetes (pre exishting) but we have the money to pay for the pills and strips if we can find a new dr. to work with and get new prescriptions.

  5. tmana permalink
    October 16, 2008 1:24 PM

    Your post inspired me to do a post on the other side of poverty and diabetes: the effect poverty has on the increased development of Type 2 among the working poor, and the expected outcomes.

  6. rainbow permalink
    October 17, 2008 5:28 PM

    Raising money for children is all well and good, but what about all those adults who can’t afford test strips and insulin and syringes? I pay hundreds and hundreds of dollars a month in prescription drug costs for diabetes, asthma, depression, and acid reflux treatments, and nobody is raising any money to help me.

  7. October 20, 2008 3:20 PM

    Rainbow: I agree that there are still issues for those with insurance but who still have high co-pays or are on medications that aren’t covered by insurance. This goes above and beyond, in my opinion, the scope of what a single non-profit can do. I believe we need a fundamental restructuring of our health care system. Today was about people living poverty, but that doesn’t mean that people who aren’t in poverty but who still pay hundreds of dollars don’t need assistance. I wish medication could be free! Nobody asked to be on any of this crap. If I hear of anything that I think may help, I will be sure to post it.

  8. dailyopining permalink
    October 25, 2008 12:17 AM

    What a great post. I am new to this blogging thing but have written a post on my blog site that you can check out at

    My wife and I have been involved with diabetes in one way or another for the last 8 years (volunteering, when my daughter was diagnosed 5 years ago with Type 1 and as recent as a month ago when I was diagnosed with Type II). In talking with my daughter’s endocrinologist, it is evident that the disease is affecting people in epidemic proportions.

    I’ve always wondered what to do with unused or extra supplies. Your post has inspired me to look at the organizations you have in your post. Please visit my site and ask others to view and comment as well.

    Hoping for a cure,

  9. September 10, 2009 5:53 PM

    Diabetes can cause great poverty for those who pay upwards to $12,000 per year. “Patients who receive appropriate care ring up less than 10 percent of the medical costs of patients whose disease is poorly managed. That means a $5,000 annual medical bill for the healthiest diabetes patients, compared to $60,000 for patients who bounce in and out of the hospital with emergencies and complications,” according to Managing Editor Lola Butcher writing for Managed Care.


  1. Additional Thoughts on Poverty and Diabetes « Lemonade Life

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