An Update on Insulin for Syrians

WRITTEN BY: Elizabeth Rowley

Many of you supported T1International’s Insulin for Syrians* campaign last year, when we raised funds for our partner organisation, the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) to ensure that people living with diabetes amidst the crisis in Syria would be able to have access to insulin and basic supplies.

At the time, we were told that at least 2,000 people with diabetes in Syria were in need. It is likely that the number has only grown since that time, and it has become increasingly difficult to ensure that aid gets into parts of the country safely.

We recently had the chance to communicate with Dr. Ossama Barakat, a Consultant Physician & Endocrinologist. Dr. Barakat is Syrian and spends time supporting Syrian children with diabetes. He echoed the sentiments of the SAMS team regarding the struggle for continued access to insulin during the war.

When speaking about the Syrian healthcare system, Dr. Barakat noted, “It used to be one of the best in Middle East, and has suffered due to doctors leaving the country, lack of local and imported medications, lack of power supply, and hospital destruction.”

Several sources have emphasised that the government previously provided all insulin free to patients, but that is no longer possible. There are no insulin production factories in Syria now, and patients must search on the black market, which is expensive and dangerous. Many resort to taking expired insulin because it is all they can find at nearby pharmacies.

Dr. Barakat estimated that around 80% of people in need of insulin in Syria are struggling to get it. He noted that in addition to the lack of insulin, there is limited power supply to keep medicines cool and very few doctors with specialist diabetes expertise.

The good news is that SAMS recently updated T1International about the use of the £9,388 ($12,500) raised during the Insulin for Syrians campaign. They told us that in January, 2,400 vials of insulin were purchased with the money raised by T1International supporters.

The insulin was delivered to a SAMS clinic in the city of Idleb, which serves the city and surrounding small towns. “It was chosen because it has an endocrinologist, Dr Reda, who will be in charge of the patient’s evaluation and prescribing the insulin accordingly,” Dr Randa Loutfi, Director of Programs at SAMS, told us.

He also explained, “In January 2017, SAMS participated with six relief organizations to design an insulin distribution plan for 41 medical facilities in Aleppo, Idleb and the Hama governorate. Fourteen of them are SAMS facilities.”

If you made a donation, know that you have put life-saving insulin in the hands of someone who really needed it. Together we helped more than 2,000 Syrians receive a vial of life-saving insulin.

T1International will be sharing further stories and updates from the SAMS team when we receive them. We plan to continue supporting SAMS by providing our human rights healthcare resources, as well as educational materials for diabetes management, to the brave doctors that continue to treat patients with diabetes in and around Syria.

*Beyond Type 1 was proud to provide a small matching grant for this campaign. This article was originally published in T1International news.

Read Life as a Refugee with Type 1 Diabetes and learn more about T1International and their Global T1D Mission.

Elizabeth Rowley

Elizabeth is the founder of T1International, a small charity that works alongside people with Type 1 diabetes around the world to ensure access to diabetes supplies and #insulin4all. She was born in the United States and has lived with Type 1 for over 20 years. Elizabeth has a Master’s degree in International Development and Humanitarian Emergencies from the London School of Economics and Political Science. Passionate about sharing the stories of the many people with T1D who are fighting for their lives daily due to lack of supplies, care, treatment and education, Elizabeth is confident that by working together we can find creative and sustainable solutions to the complex problems they face. She lives in England with her husband, John, who also has Type 1 diabetes.