“For us to secure the most basic necessities of life is becoming extremely difficult with a small child suffering from diabetes. I tried to run away towards Europe, but did not have the courage to risk taking my family in the sea after I saw pictures of children who drowned in the sea. We are trying to keep alive, but of all things I wish that my son could live like other children.”
The above is just one example of thousands of harrowing stories of Syrians affected by the double burden of diabetes and war. Type 1 diabetes is a non-preventable auto-immune condition where an attack on the beta cells means the body can no longer produce insulin. Living with 1 diabetes means relentless finger pricks, injections, and almost constant food calculations and health decisions. Picture trying to manage such a condition without regular access to insulin or the other tools needed to keep blood sugar levels stable. As you can imagine, it is virtually impossible. This is why T1International carried out our ‘Insulin for Syrians’ appeal in June and July of 2016. Donors helped ensure these families get their life-saving insulin and diabetes supplies.
Our partner in this initiative is the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS). They are working in various parts of Syria, including Aleppo and Idlib where it’s especially dangerous and where the need is great. Insulin and other supplies will be purchased in Turkey as all insulin production in Syria has come to a halt. The supplies will be brought over on a reefer truck by the incredible healthcare staff who regularly cross extremely dangerous roads to get to and from the carnage in Syria. They know that although it is unsafe, there are thousands who need insulin urgently.
In Aleppo, the road is heavily targeted from snipers, shells and air strikes, and it is exposed from two sides – the Kurdish militias and the government forces. The SAMS Logistics Manager told us, “The doctors and the medical aid providers threaten themselves to deliver the insulin and the other medical aids to more than 300,000 living in the city. Many civilians are killed every day. They are facing many difficulties in their life, even if they did not need medical service. The hospitals are the main targets of the Syrian and Russian air strikes.”
There are only a number of operating hospitals left in Syria, many of them underground and many are heavily damaged after consistent attacks. These remaining hospitals will be the main points of distribution of the insulin and supplies, where insulin can be kept cool enough through refrigerators kept going by generators.
“My brother is regularly stopped by the military checkpoints on the way to get his insulin. He walks for about 4 hours, risking his life, every month to get his insulin.”
We hope that the £9,388 that the diabetes community raised through this appeal will allow even the smallest relief to those who are facing the unthinkable. Insulin, syringes, and blood glucose monitoring supplies for people in Syria will be the difference between life and death, but only when the violence stops will people with diabetes in Syria have the chance to live in safety, health, and peace.