Access to Insulin: Current Challenges and Constraints. October 2015
(2015; 30 pages)

Abstract

One in three people around the world do not have guaranteed access to essential medicines. While access to essential medicines for infectious diseases, like HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, has received considerable attention, little has been done to address access to essential medicines for non-communicable diseases (NCDs). This is particularly the case for insulin, which is essential for the survival of people with type 1 diabetes and required for better management of some type 2 diabetes cases. Although this life-saving medicine was discovered in 1921 and first used for treatment in 1922, numerous barriers continue to make it unattainable for many people in 2015.

The consequences of poor insulin access are devastating. In Sub-Saharan Africa, for example, lack of insulin access results in a life expectancy of less than a year for a child with type 1 diabetes, compared to almost normal life expectancy in high-income settings. In addition to increasing life expectancies for children with type 1 diabetes, improved insulin access would decrease blindness, amputations, kidney failure and premature mortality in people with type 1 and 2 diabetes around the world.

Although little is known about the global demand for insulin, approximately 381 million people worldwide between the ages of 20 and 79 had diabetes in 2013. By 2035, it is estimated that 592 million people will have diabetes—an increase of 55 percent over the 2013-2035 period.

This report is the first step of the ACCISS Study. It highlights where we currently stand with access to insulin in 2015. Although there are multiple challenges that the ACCISS Study must address, it is hoped that this work will enable the 100 Campaign to achieve its goal of ensuring that 100 percent of people living with type 1 diabetes have access to insulin by 2022.

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