News from the COVID-19 Coalition
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused difficulties for families, governments, and businesses across the globe in ways never imagined. This has been especially evident for people living with type 1 diabetes receiving care in under resourced health systems. And yet, as if to meet the challenge, there has been an incredible surge in selfless acts of generosity on behalf of Life for a Child donors and volunteers across the world. These extraordinary acts of human kindness was equally unexpected and yet so desperately needed, with so many young lives hanging in the balance.
We’d like to share some stories of how local challenges caused by the Coronavirus pandemic are being overcome locally.
In response to the global impacts of the Coronavirus pandemic, Life for a Child united with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation to form the COVID-19 Diabetes Supplies Coalition. Over twenty other like-minded organizations have joined and the Coalition is working to identify shortages of essential diabetes supplies and mobilize support from around the world.
In Bolivia, many families who have been financially crippled by COVID-19 are now finding they have to make the heart-wrenching choice between medication and groceries. Our generous donors have enabled Life for a Child to send additional supplies and funding to help the situation in Bolivia temporarily, but the effects of COVID-19 will not pass quickly.
We are very encouraged by the situation in Costa Rica.
“The country is making at-risk patients a priority and currently even shipping their medicines to them to prevent them from going to the hospital and getting infected. Families have been given extra insulin for the next two months, and the community is supporting each other if there is an urgent need for support or extra supplies.” – Dani, T1International Global Advocate.
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Life for a Child is sending funds for food to our partner center in Goma, Democratic Republic of the Congo, as they attempt to support children with type 1 through the COVID-19 pandemic. The DRC’s borders are currently closed to receiving imports of essential supplies like insulin, so many diabetes clinics have needed to stretch out the supplies they had in stock at the end of 2019
A Life for a Child partner centre has communicated that as the Ethiopian Government is so occupied with the COVID-19 situation, there are valid concerns that the country will run short of blood glucose meters and strips, and many people living with type 1 diabetes and their health care providers are worried there could be an insulin shortage. The partner, therefore, asked for special support during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In Ghana, people living with type 1, who are already at higher risk, need to pick up their supplies in person from hospitals that are epicenters for the spread of COVID-19. Their only alternative is to buy what they need from pharmacies where the cost of insulin is being pushed through the roof due to severe national shortages. Many young people are skipping their insulin doses because they are having serious difficulty accessing food and other essentials amidst the COVID-19 turmoil.
Life for a Child is sending funds to help provide for 1102 young people with type 1 diabetes in Ghana, which we hope will ease the burden on these families in the short term.
One of our partner centers in Guatemala has been home-delivering type 1 diabetes supplies to more than 150 families affected by lockdown measures. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to reach everyone and are still trying to find ways to overcome this under the impact of COVID-19.
Many diabetes clinics in Haiti are having trouble keeping their services open since so many young people are not able to attend the clinics due to the COVID-19 restrictions. There has also been a decrease in diabetes-related hospitalizations for young people, likely due to the economic impact COVID-19 is having on families who already struggle to afford transport and medical bills, and fear of contracting COVID-19 itself.
To help the type 1 community throughout the COVID-19 crisis, one of our partner centers in Haiti is training young leaders with type 1 through supervised social work in the community. They will deliver insulin to those in need and distribute diabetes resources and food packs to help prevent complications.
Kota, India, is in a state of severe lockdown where whole communities are barricaded into zones. In the middle of one of these “red zones”, Puneet ran out of insulin and strips and was completely cut off from accessing any supplies. Life for a Child was able to supply 2 months’ worth of insulin and supplies to Puneet’s doctor, Dr. G.D. Ramchandani, but he was unable to retrieve them due to the restrictions.
With special permission from the local authorities, the doctor’s own son, Raunak, travelled in scorching heat across the locked-down city to the gates of Puneet’s zone. Under the supervision of armed guards, Raunak was able to pass the supplies through the barricade to Puneet.
Type 1 children in villages surrounding Pune, India, were unable to travel to the city for medical aid and supplies during the nationwide COVID-19 lockdown. Fortunately, one of our partners was able to obtain special permission to make home deliveries to these remote areas and provide the affected children with their much-needed supplies. We are so thankful to the brave volunteers (both in India and also in other countries such as Sri Lanka, Uganda, Guatemala and Haiti) who are currently putting their own health and safety at risk to home-deliver essential medical supplies to type 1 children who are unable to leave their homes due to COVID-19. Their outstanding efforts have saved many young lives!
In the midst of the COVID-19 lockdown, reduction in public transport is making it difficult for those in remote areas to obtain supplies from hospitals or clinics. Life for a Child has managed to facilitate the distribution of insulin to local health centers in an attempt to minimize the need for travel.
In a creative use of technology, a WhatsApp group has been created in Rwanda to help collect funds for those who are most vulnerable. The group also functions as a support network, connecting young people living with type 1.
Life for a Child supports 100 young people living with type 1 diabetes cared for by the Diabetes Association of Sri Lanka. These children and adolescents mostly come from very poor families and so the insulin, meters and strips, education and medical guidance we provide is critical. Many families could not afford these expenses without our support.
On 20th March 2020, the Sri Lankan government imposed an island-wide lockdown. The government health system then became very short of insulin. Two IDF young leaders in diabetes, Vikasith and Dinuka, as well as a small team of volunteers, took it upon themselves to deliver essential type 1 diabetes supplies to over 100 young people all over the country.