Life for a Child + the Diabetic Association in Bangladesh Partner to Save Lives
Editor’s Notes: Until 2022, there have been wide gaps in the data about the incidence and impact of type 1 diabetes across the world. According to estimates from the type 1 diabetes (T1D) Index by JDRF, almost 25,000 people just like Bushra live with type 1 diabetes in Bangladesh, but more than 38,000 additional people would still be alive today if everyone had access to a timely diagnosis, vital diabetes supplies and management education. An average young person diagnosed at age 10 will lose an estimated 47.2 years of healthy life. Globally, there are an estimated total of 3.86 million people that would be alive today if everyone had equitable access to diabetes healthcare and tools. Learn more at T1DIndex.org.
Life for a Child supports young people living with diabetes in some of the world’s most vulnerable communities. In addition to the story shared below, read more about their work supporting young people like Rwandan sisters Ineza and Rebeka at ToClimbAThousandHills.org.
Bushra is an artist; she attended art school and enjoys drawing, crafting and sewing clothes. She lives in Dhaka, the bustling capital city of Bangladesh, with her father, stepmother, two younger brothers and younger sister. Together, the family navigates Bushra’s life with type 1 diabetes and deafness.
When Bushra was 13 years old, her parents noticed ants were attracted to her pee. They also noticed frequent urination, as well as weight loss. The family took her to the hospital where she was ultimately diagnosed with diabetes.
Her father was shocked and scared. At the time, Bushra’s mother was undergoing cancer treatments for leukemia, which she ultimately passed away from in 2017. Through tears, Bushra’s father explains, “Bushra cannot talk, she cannot hear properly, she’s diagnosed with diabetes and her mother was fighting blood cancer. I did not know how I would handle everything. Due to her mother’s illness, it did not seem possible to take proper care of Bushra as well.”
Living with diabetes in Dhaka
After Bushra’s initial diagnosis, she was referred to the Bangladesh Institute of Research and Rehabilitation in Diabetes (BIRDEM), which has a social welfare department that houses the Diabetic Association of Bangladesh (BADAS). Bushra’s age and financial position meant the team at BIRDEM could enroll her in the Life for a Child program, an organization that helps young people living with diabetes access supplies and diabetes education, and partners with local care organizations like BADAS to provide care.
Through Life for a Child, Bushra and her family learned how to manage diabetes and live a healthy life. Now, Bushra has a support system complete with doctors, educators and other healthcare professionals. She also receives free insulin, blood glucose test strips and blood glucose meters.
Families like Bushra’s often struggle to access resources and supplies in Bangladesh. Kamrul Huda, the Life for a Child program manager at the Diabetic Association of Bangladesh (BADAS), explains how the health system’s complexity can make it difficult for young people to access the care they need.
“The government’s responsibility is to prevent and treat illnesses in our people for free or at minimal cost through the public healthcare delivery system,” Huda says. “Bangladesh’s health service delivery system is an intricate web of public health departments, non-governmental institutions (NGOs) and private institutions.”
Receiving care through BADAS and Life for a Child
BADAS has played a vital role as an extension of the government of Bangladesh to aid citizens with the management of diabetes. Thirty percent of all patients with diabetes in Bangladesh receive free services, including insulin, from the association’s social welfare department at the BIRDEM.
BADAS is the largest diabetes association in the world, boasting 114 healthcare facilities and more than 500 accredited diabetes centers across Bangladesh. More than 3,000 patients receive free services through the program there—Bushra is one of them. Bushra’s father lost his job due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He revealed that “without Life for a Child’s support, I could not have saved my daughter’s life.”
The support Bushra received not only saved her life but helped to improve her mental health. Bushra received counseling as part of her diabetes care at the BIRDEM; since then, she has taken to drawing again.
No one should have to go without the life-saving medication and supplies they need every day simply to survive. If you would like to support the efforts of Life for a Child and give back to people in need across the world, learn more about how you can help at LifeforaChild.org.
Life for a Child believes that no child should die of diabetes. Find out how you can help support young people living with diabetes in some of the world’s most vulnerable communities on their website. Beyond Type 1’s work with Life for a Child is sponsored by Lilly Diabetes.