Diabetes affects millions of people throughout the world, and is on the increase. Estimates put the global population affected at 171 million in 2000, rising to an estimated 366 million by 2030. That’s a lot of people, but still a minority (albeit a significant one) of the total population. For this reason the world can still exploit the needs of diabetics, or ignore their needs should their market be directed at non-diabetics. Thus, diabetic supplies such as blood testing strips, insulin, needles, pumps and all the other sundry necessities can be charged out at premium prices with a small cartel of companies holding a nice and comfortable hold on life-preserving essentials.

Similarly, the food industry in particular are able to market highly processed, unhealthy foods packed with sugar, fat and salt at the majority of people with little obligation for the probable health problems and cost to society that ensue. This majority are also encouraged to participate in leisure activities that make few demands on their cardio-vascular health, leading to an ever-increasing tendency to obesity and heart disease.

But what if everyone had diabetes? Everyone would have to start taking care of themselves, or suffer the awful consequences. People could still choose unhealthy lifestyles, of course, but only in the full knowledge that it would almost inevitably lead to loss of sight, limbs or kidney function. Governments would have to take action immediately to prevent the healthcare services being overwhelmed. Diabetes consumables would become cheaper. Research into cures or treatments would be funded by all, not via charities that have to plead to a self-interested minority – everyone would have a personal interest in a successful breakthrough!

Maybe it will happen one day, with the way the numbers are increasing year by year…

If everyone had diabetes,
I wonder what the world would be like?
Would we give up our motorised transport
And all travel round on a bike?

For I’m guessing we’d all be more active,
And eat fewer biscuits and buns,
And maybe some chemist would come up with
A sweetener that doesn’t cause the ‘runs’!

We wouldn’t treat children with chocolates,
Nor feed them on pizzas and pies,
They’d learn from the start about footcare,
And how to look after their eyes.

Our food would contain far less sugar,
And we’d choose with more care what we ate,
There’d be warnings, like cigarettes, on packaging,
And we wouldn’t pile so much on our plates.

Maybe we’d see rapid progress
On things now affecting us all,
So we wouldn’t need charity for funding,
And the politicians all would play ball!

Maybe one day it will happen,
For we’re 300 million strong,
And the way that the world seems to be heading,
The rest will all join before long!

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Comment by Christalyn on March 17, 2010 at 11:56am
Diabetes need a better campaign, marketing and publicity plan.... Look at Breast Cancer and AIDS. It is cool and hip to donate money and time to these causes. Can you go anywhere and not see a pink ribbon in the grocery store, target, sporting goods store, etc? There are more people dying of diabetic complications than Breast Cancer and AIDS combined.

In your well written article please recognized that even though Diabetics are considered a minority....It is the minorities of the minority that truly are suffering from this. In the African American , Asian, and Latino communities it is a pan epidemic for various reasons that I will spare everybody from. We all know some of these.

Manufacturer of diabetic goods and services are a cartel. They are no better than OPEC. If one should reduce their rates all the others would have to follow but they would not do that unless they were forced into doing so. Being a scientist and having worked at the 5th largest pharmaceutical company in the world I understand how things are expensive. Once the initial production and research costs are done...I am not understanding the markup on supplies.

This is why I have been writing certain suppliers for discounts in November during Diabetes Awareness Month. Would you care to join me in this cause?
Comment by Robin M on March 17, 2010 at 12:41pm
Yes, the drug companies do see a good profit from us! I remember soon after my diagnosis in 1979 when I remarked to my mother that diabetes would never be cured because the drug companies would lose so much money if that happened and I remember that my mom got very angry with me for saying that. Now that I'm a parent I recognize that her anger was probably her own fear that my words were true and that her child would have to live with this disease forever. And in those days we only checked urine for control; just chem-strips, syringes and insulin and I realized that even those brought good money to the manufacturers. Why give up that income stream? I hate to be cynical but I've carried that belief for all these years. In 1979 the doctors told me that there would be a cure in five years, then eight years later I heard that a newly diagnosed diabetic had been fed that same lie! Now at least they don't bother with that story anymore...

Oh well. We will survive!!! (Don't let me get started on the struggle for health insurance for us small business owners who can't be a "group"! Yikes!)
Comment by Robin M on March 17, 2010 at 12:45pm
Oh wait, I got carried away, I'm sorry Alan I forgot to tell you how much I love the poem! Thanks!
Comment by Alan Eastwood on March 18, 2010 at 12:28am
Guys, this is why I am so thankful fr our National Health Service here in the UK. It's not perfect, but it means I don't have to pay for any of my medication or supplies. Pumps are much harder to obtain though. I have had to fight insurance in many other areas of life, and it must be so stressful to have to worry about them where your health is concerned.

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