In response to February 1998’s article “Out of Africa” on Arthur Teuscher’s, MD, work in Tanzania, DIABETES HEALTH has received numerous letters and phone calls from concerned readers asking where they can donate insulin and money to those diabetics who lack the basics of diabetes care.
We are pleased to support Teuscher and Robert Dixon in their efforts to supply aid to needy diabetics in underdeveloped countries. Following is information is for all readers who wish to donate supplies and money.
Donations to Teuscher’s efforts in Tanzania can be made to:
The Diabetes Foundation
Diabetes Center Lindenhof
CH-3012 Bern, Switzerland
Fax: 41 31 302 82 10
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The following is an open letter from Robert Dixon asking concerned readers to donate supplies and money to people with diabetes in underdeveloped countries:
Insulin For All
Insulin was first used as an effective treatment for diabetes in 1921. Three quarters of a century has passed since that historic date.
Here in the United States, diabetes is a severe disease that can be somewhat controlled with proper nutrition, exercise and medication for some. For those with type 1 diabetes, insulin is a necessity. Approximately two million Americans owe their very existence to insulin.
Every month or so, most of us in this country who need insulin go to our local pharmacy or medical center and get our allotment of insulin. Some of us will inject it and some will use a pump to do the injecting. With insulin, we can lead a somewhat normal life. Yes, we may have to inject insulin one to four times per day, do blood tests three to six times per day and must constantly be on guard for low blood sugar reactions as well as high blood sugar episodes … but we’re alive. We can laugh, go to the movies, work at jobs, play with our children and get joy out of life.
For a moment, let’s visualize a world in which insulin is not available to us. Our happy picture of a pleasant existence vanishes quickly. We become a population of very sick and physically declining people. We look thin and gaunt. Our futures are gone. This picture is the real plight for many diabetics who happen to live in under-developed countries.
In many areas, insulin is an extremely expensive medication. Imagine one-half of your income going just for insulin, and that is IF you can even get it. What can these fellow diabetics do? What chance do they have for survival?
There are groups that collect insulin, monetary donations and medical supplies for donation to these diabetics. So far, the amounts available do not come close to the need, but this situation can improve. The International Diabetes Institute (IDI) in Australia is one such group. The coordinator of the insulin distribution program, Ron Raab, has been assisting diabetics in places like Tanzania, the Philippines, India and even Russia to obtain donated insulin since the 1980s.
The program is supported by donations of money as well as insulin. Money helps pay for shipping costs of the medical supplies, and insulin comes from various donors. Medical groups, insulin manufacturers and private donors are among the contributors. Because diabetes supplies and funds for expenses are not always consistent, demand almost always exceeds the ability to supply.
We here in the United States can help. We can donate funds to organizations like the IDI to assist in their programs. We can also donate insulin to these organizations. I have been sending donated insulin to Ron Raab’s organization for two years. Insulin is sent to me from individual donors, and I then ship the collected insulin to the IDI, care of Ron Raab, for eventual distribution to areas where it is an extremely rare and expensive commodity.
Recently, donors here in the United States provided a life-saving supply of Humulin insulin to a young woman, Irina Ivanova, in Russia. Her family had not been able to pay for the cost of this expensive insulin. The only type of insulin that was available to her caused severe physical reactions. A supply of Humulin insulin was donated to her and she has greatly improved physically. However, her one-year supply of insulin will soon run out, and she needs assistance for more supplies.
If you are willing to help diabetics like Irina survive, you can contact the International Diabetes Institute, care of Ron Raab, 260 Kooyong Road, Caulfield, Victoria, Australia 3162. You can also e-mail Ron Raab at email@example.com.
If you would like to discuss ideas further, you can contact me, Robert Dixon, at (408) 479-7837. You can also reach me via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.