Last week, the American Diabetes Association awarded Dr. Graham Ogle, manager of the Australia-based Life for a Child program, an award for distinguished international service. Ogle’s group uses charitable donations from individuals, foundations, and corporations to help over 10,000 children with their basic type 1 diabetes needs, including insulin, syringes, test strips, and educational materials.
Some 450,000 children in the world are known to have type 1 diabetes, and roughly half of these kids live in the developing world. Many more thousands probably die each year without their affliction ever being diagnosed, registered, or acknowledged. We have no accurate data on the true incidence of type 1 diabetes in many countries around the world.
It’s wonderful that groups such as the JDRF and the ADA raise money for research on the artificial pancreas and a cure. My son will benefit from those advances, and I pray that these groups will be successful.
Yet if and when these innovations occur, many children in the developing world will not benefit for years to come, if ever.
Insulin pumps are great; my six year old has one. So is his Dexcom CGM, which has reduced our anxiety greatly. The former costs over $7,000 USD, however, and the latter costs about $1,000 USD. The weekly maintenance costs, moreover, are huge.
Last week, my son mistakenly jumped into the pool with his Dexcom on. The company graciously gave us a huge discount, but a new receiver still cost $250.
I know that many children in the US, Europe, Canada and other wealthy countries have difficulty meeting their diabetes needs. Still, things are so much worse in the developing world, where even the fortunate middle classes can’t afford pumps, CGMs, and expensive analogue insulins.
And when the artificial pancreas finally arrives in 5-7 years, they’ll only be able to read about it online.
In the short, medium, and possibly long term, there are only a handful of small, underfunded organizations looking out for the world’s paediatric diabetes needs, and Life for a Child is one of them.
Graham Ogle, more than anyone else I’ve ever met since my son was diagnosed four years ago, is my diabetes hero. The world needs more people like him.