Imagine

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July 25, 2011 // DSMA

Every Thursday night Diabetes Social Media Advocacy Live (DSMA Live) comes online, where various topics relating to diabetes are discussed. Last week, the special guest was Professor Jean Claude Mbanya, President of the International Diabetes Federation (IDF). He spoke about many diabetes advocacy and global diabetes initiatives that are going on worldwide, the most pressing of which include:

  • O is for Outrage
    The topic of the United Nation’s 2nd summit on global health issues is non-communicable diseases (NCDs), of which diabetes is one. Create a postcard right now to send to United States President Barack Obama, and ask him to represent us at the UN Summit on September 19-20, 2011. The IDF is taking care of all of the shipping costs. (P.S. – I don’t care what political affiliation you are or whether or not you approve of President Obama. This isn’t political. This is necessary.)
  • I Agree
    Do this now. Just click the “I Agree” link above. Just by doing that, you are telling the IDF, the UN, and the world that you support essential care for people with diabetes. People should not have to choose between starvation and living life with diabetes. Not anywhere.
  • Life For A Child
    Saving the lives of children in the developing world. As Professor Mbanya said in his time with us on DSMA Life, “No child should die from diabetes.”
  • World Diabetes Day
    November 14 is World Diabetes Day. Wear blue on this day, attend or host an event, and increase awareness of diabetes worldwide.

Something that really jumped out at me was what he shared about the stigma of diabetes, especially in less fortunate countries where oppression, starvation, corruption, overpopulation, and poverty reign.

Professor Mbanya shared with us the story of a man whom he met in a hospital that had four children, one of which was a daughter who had type 1 diabetes. Despite what help he could get from the hospital, the man was always sad and never smiled. One day Professor Mbanya went away on a trip, and when he returned and happen to run into the man, he was happy, and had a smile on his face. Professor Mbanya asked him, “Why are you so happy?” The man answered that his daughter with type 1 diabetes had died. Professor Mbanya, unable to understand why the death of a child would bring a smile to the father’s face, asked, “Then why are you smiling?” The man answered, “Professor, it was better that my daughter should die, so that the rest of the family can live, for when she was alive we couldn’t eat, the other children had to drop out of school, and now I have changed and put on weight because we are able to eat.”

Imagine.

Among some tribal people in the undeveloped world, diabetes is not viewed as a medical condition, or a sickness, or even a disease. It is viewed as a curse. Professor Mbanya explained to us that in those cultures, the family of a child with diabetes is viewed as having the disease as much as the child, where parents take their children and commit suicide or infanticide because of the profound negative stigma of diabetes.

Imagine.

In 1979, Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping enacted the One Child Law for urban areas of China in an effort to control population. The basic premise of the law states that couples are limited to only one child per family. However, if that one child develops type 1 diabetes, then an exemption is allowed so that the parents may essentially try again, because the expectation is that the child with diabetes will die.

Imagine.

Professor Mbanya said it, and I couldn’t agree with him more: “No child should die of diabetes. All children should have adequate access to insulin, monitors, supplies, and education needed to have a happy and quality life.”

Imagine.

Imagine - photo courtesy of Allison Blass

Photo courtesy of Allison Blass

One Comment

  1. Wow, Martin, ever since last week’s DSMA Live chat (my first), I’ve been trying to find the words to share what an impact it had on me. I reckon I might just link to your post here since you’ve summed it all up perfectly. Thank you for this.

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