My name is Elizabeth Rowley and I have had Type 1 diabetes for over 20 years. I grew up in a small town and went to a small university, where I studied International Relations. The amazing people at my university opened my eyes to global issues and I found my passions of education and humanitarian work, which led me to eventually pursue a Master’s degree in International Development and Humanitarian Emergencies at the London School of Economics.
I am lucky enough to be married to my best friend who is also Type 1 diabetic. I am also lucky enough to live in a country where healthcare isn’t perfect, but is usually satisfactory – at least for my family and our circumstances. I was diagnosed at age four, and although living with diabetes is an incredible struggle, I know that there are those out there fighting for their lives daily due to lack of supplies, care, treatment, and education for Type 1 diabetes. I want to change that.
My hope is that this space can help to raise awareness about the struggles of those living with Type 1 diabetes who are not as lucky as others: the ones who cannot access test strips to test their blood sugar (something I often take for granted, as I am able to test at least 8 times daily), the ones that suffer frequent Diabetic Ketoacidosis and amputations because they cannot get enough insulin regularly, the ones who have to walk miles to get their diabetic supplies – if they can get the supplies at all.
More than a quarter of a million people with diabetes live in developing countries with inadequate healthcare. There is also the problem of developed countries like the United States, where without health insurance (or even with with health insurance plan) a person can be paying hundreds or thousands of dollars per month for their diabetes supplies and therefore may not be able to afford them at all.
Personally, I am outraged by this. I often find myself asking again and again why so few people know about these problems and why more isn’t being done. There has been an incredible impact on decreasing HIV/Aids, so why aren’t we seeing the same response in Non-Communicable diseases like diabetes? I think there are various answers to those questions, but a lot of it comes down to lack of awareness and education. So many people do not understand the difference between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, for example, and when you don’t understand something you tend to forget or ignore it. People simply don’t realize that a person will die without enough insulin.
Despite being active in the diabetes community and someone with an interest in humanitarian crises, I have had to search in-depth to find information, data, and publications surrounding Type 1 diabetes and developing countries (or lack of access to and affordability of insulin in the developed world), let alone programmes or charities that focus on it. I use this space to continue my research and to share updates, facts, stories, and interviews about Type 1 care, policy, and treatment in places where Type 1 diabetics are often forgotten.