Helping the Diabetes Community in Ukraine


11Note: This page will be updated as communications and news from Ukraine become available. This resource was created in partnership with JDRF, an active partner of Beyond Type 1 at the time of publication, through the JDRF – Beyond Type 1 Alliance.

This article was updated on March 28 2022, and will continue to be updated as new information emerges.

What is the Current Situation?

Approximately 130,000 people with type 1 diabetes and over 2.3 million with type 2 diabetes in Ukraine now face inconsistent access to insulin, supplies, medical professionals and diabetes care. Many of the estimated 15 to 20,000 children with type 1 and their families are fleeing westward to the borders in hopes of escaping into other countries as refugees.

The main distribution channels for insulin and diabetes supplies in Ukraine are being coordinated through the Ukrainian Ministry of Health, according to Dr. Iryna Vlasenko, vice president of the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) on a call with international diabetes organizations March 24, 2022. While there has been a coordinated effort between manufacturers, nonprofit organizations, and the government, the primary challenge remains getting crucial medications to regions in active combat areas. While humanitarian corridors are requested for both civilian escape and emergency medical supply delivery, they are not always safe. Due to the increased levels of stress and its impact on blood glucose levels, more rapid-acting insulin and oral hypoglycemic medications have been requested.

Warehouses with insulin products are accessible and The Ministry of Health is prioritizing normal routes of insulin distribution: pharmacies and regional hospitals. While Direct Relief has provided large shipments of insulin and supplies, it has been noted that it is difficult to get supplies into the country.

More supplies and insulin will be brought into Ukraine through non-governmental organizations as part of sanctioned humanitarian efforts, including a comprehensive coordination effort between Direct Relief, International Diabetes Federation (IDF), IDF- Europe and the Ukrainian Ministry of Health.

There is a current need for blood glucose meters and strips, not just in Ukraine, but in the surrounding countries welcoming refugees, especially Moldova and Slovakia.

In Poland, while Ukrainian refugees can access diabetes supplies and medications, they must purchase them out-of-pocket first and then request reimbursement, which is placing strain on the local diabetes associations.

Unfortunately, hunger and food shortages are also emerging as challenges for the type 1 diabetes community.

How Can I Help Right Now?

All individuals with diabetes in Ukraine impacted by the war will need extensive assistance, whether they are trapped in their current locations, traveling to safer areas within the country, or crossing the borders into Poland, Romania, Moldova, Slovakia and Hungary.

Beyond Type 1 has been working with other global organizations, including IDF and WHO, sharing how best our community can help. Based on the latest information we have obtained, we encourage our diabetes community to focus their efforts and donations through established, recognized non-governmental and non-profit organizations.

Individual Shipments of Insulin and Diabetes Supplies to Ukraine

Please do not attempt to ship supplies or insulin directly into Ukraine, as most normal shipping avenues have been blocked or restricted. All air travel in and out of Ukraine has been suspended due to military activity. The Ukrainian government is doing what it can to assist humanitarian supply convoys at the borders, but it is difficult with multiple checkpoints and military activity preventing shipments from arriving.

We recognize that you may see individuals or organizations on social media asking for insulin or supplies to ship into Ukraine or into surrounding countries where refugees may go. While it is heartbreaking to see these requests, the best way to help these individuals at this time is to provide them with internal country resources to connect them with the closest medical clinic to get what they need.

According to the Ministry of Health of Ukraine: “All healthcare institutions continue providing medical care under martial law.” Individuals in Ukraine can call the ministry’s hotline at 0 800 50 52 01 to determine the closest open medical clinic.

Diabetes-Specific Financial Donations

Direct Relief

Direct Relief is actively working to bring needed medical supplies into the country, with a large shipment of diabetes supplies arriving before the invasion by Russia. They continue to coordinate and support the Ukraine Ministry of Health in the collection and distribution of emergency supplies.

Connect Solidarity (IDF)

Connect Solidarity (IDF) is a new effort through the International Diabetes Federation to support people living with diabetes in Ukraine and those who had to flee their country. “Your monetary donation will support the delivery of medical supplies as well as the work of IDF Europe’s Member Associations providing assistance to person with diabetes (PwD) affected by the conflict, in and outside of Ukraine.”

Spare a Rose for Ukraine

Spare a Rose for Ukraine will run throughout March, with all donations earmarked to support people with diabetes in and out of Ukraine. Monetary donations will be directed to Insulin for Life, a registered charity with over two decades of experience providing insulin and diabetes supplies to under-resourced countries and responding to emergencies. Beyond Type 1 has pledged $10,000 to help Insulin for Life complete their mission.

General Medical Assistance Financial Donations

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is mobilizing in the surrounding countries to assist those crossing borders with emergency medical response camps. They are also attempting to help transport needed medical supplies across the border into Ukraine. Click here to learn more about their activities to help those within the country and those attempting to leave.

International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)

International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is currently helping Ukrainian medical clinics with needed equipment and supplies while simultaneously providing food and hygiene items to families.

Refugee Assistance Financial Donations

UNHCR/The UN Refugee Agency

UNHCR/The UN Refugee Agency is not just monitoring and providing data but actively assisting those who need immediate assistance. As of March 1, over 660,000 refugees have left Ukraine, with more expected as the war continues, with detailed information regarding each refugee-accepting country bordering Ukraine here.

However, many others remain inside the country, unable to leave. UNHCR spokesperson Shabia Mantoo stated: “UNHCR is also ramping up its response in Ukraine to help displaced and conflict-affected people. But the volatile situation, security concerns, lack of safe access for humanitarian workers and movement restrictions are posing major challenges for aid workers, including UNHCR staff.”

Diabetes Supplies Donations—Insulin For Life USA

Insulin for Life USA is actively engaged in providing relief in Ukraine, you can help someone in the global diabetes community. The items sent by Insulin for Life include insulin, test strips, glucose meters, syringes, pen needles, lancets, lancing devices and pump supplies. Insulin For Life USA will accept several diabetes supplies and distribute them in several areas, including North America, South America and parts of Africa. Donate insulin and other diabetes supplies by clicking here.

Resources For Those In The Impacted Region

If you are in contact with those in Ukraine or the surrounding countries, please share the following resources:

Medicine WarriorsThis new site, using public records from the Ukrainian Ministry of Health, provides people living with diabetes in Ukraine with accurate, updated, and user-friendly information about the location of pharmacies where insulin is currently available.

Novo Nordisk Emergency Insulin Hotline 

  • (toll-free in Ukraine): 0-800-801-341
  • (regular line in Ukraine) 032-246-50-73

Guides for Switching Insulin Products

WRITTEN BY Christel Marchand Aprigliano , POSTED 04/21/22, UPDATED 04/15/23

Christel Marchand Aprigliano is an international speaker, nonprofit executive and diabetes advocate, having lived with type 1 diabetes since 1983. After several years in client engagement roles for multinational organizations, she turned her expertise to diabetes advocacy. Through her efforts to bring the diabetes patient perspective to policymakers and the public, she became a frequent guest speaker internationally and on Capitol Hill, testifying in front of Congress in 2017 and 2019. She holds a BA from McGill University (Montréal, Canada), a MS from University of Maryland Global Campus (Heidelberg, Germany) and the hands of her husband and daughter whenever she can.