I recently had a conversation about diabetes advocates that has left me thinking. Are diabetes advocates in Canada too quiet?
The conversation itself was about patient engagement. We were talking about access to medications and much more. It was very interesting and a bit refreshing.
The ins and outs of the conversation are neither here nor there. What got me thinking, however, was the other person’s claim that after working for years in the realm of cancer drugs, the support for new drugs in diabetes seemed to be lacking. This individual felt that there was not the same enthusiasm and support from groups and individuals as there was in the world of cancer.
All of this got me thinking. Were Canadian diabetes advocates too quiet? How could we be louder? I know that patients love to see new technologies but sadly not everyone can afford them. What if working with big pharma companies, access could become easier? What if we weren’t talking to the right people? How could we fix that?
There are many advocacy groups in Canada and around the world. There are the diabetes associations. There are chapters of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation throughout the world. You can also find many grassroots groups and organizations in most countries.
As social media grows, so do online groups. Canada has seen the inception of such groups as Type 1 Together and the US has DPAC. There are also many small communities that have formed and are ready to advocate and educate the misinformed at a moments notice.
Is the Canadian diabetes advocacy voice too quiet? Is the worldwide voice of people living with diabetes too quiet?
Actually, I don’t think so. I think that the voice of the online diabetes community is getting louder and stronger. Just look at how quickly the people calling a Starbucks drink a “cup of diabetes” were corrected on Instagram. A lady recently balked at a man checking his blood sugar levels and injecting at the table in a restaurant. She now has her own meme thanks to the diabetes community.
Does this translate into improved access to diabetes drugs for Canadians? Most likely not. It is getting people talking, however. I think it is also creating a stronger, louder voice. (Ask the Minister of Finance in Newfoundland and Labrador what happens when you make a flippant remark about diabetes care in that province.)
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