Global health experts have come together to discuss how access to insulin and medical devices can be improved for people with diabetes around the world.

Representatives from the World Health Organization (WHO) came together with key international health partners to tackle issues that impact the diabetes community.

Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death and also a condition that leads to other major health problems, such as lower limb amputation, heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure and blindness.

For those who have type 1 diabetes, insulin is an essential medication, but in many countries many people still struggle to afford it.

The drug is also required among some people with type 2 diabetes, although in the early stages the condition can be managed by diet, exercise and oral medication.

According to the WHO, around 60 million people around the world with type 2 diabetes need insulin, but only 50% of receive it.

The WHO’s Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said: “It is a failure of society and the global community as a whole that people who need insulin should encounter financial hardship to buy it or go without it and risk their life.”

 To tackle the issue, the WHO wants to increase global partnerships ensuring patient-centred approaches are implemented and access to essential diabetes medicines, including insulin and associated devices, should be significantly scaled up.

It is thought more than 420 million people have diabetes, which equates to 6% of the world’s population. That number is four times greater than it was 40 years ago and diabetes rates are expected to increase to 570 million by 2030.

Access to diabetes medications has been further delayed because of COVID-19. A recent WHO survey discovered that 50% of countries had experienced a disruption of diabetes services during the coronavirus pandemic.

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