COVID-19 – A multiplier impact on the diabetes community (Guest blog)
As people with diabetes are among those high risk categories, we offer this platform to our stakeholders to raise awareness of the challenges they are facing in these uneasy times.
Below is a blog by Elisabeth Dupont, IDF Europe Regional Manager.
Public health emergencies, such the coronavirus pandemic, are stressful times for all of us. No one knows how they will evolve, how our lives will be affected and how disruptive they will be in the long run for our societies. We all must learn how to deal with the uncertainty, and we are discovering the meaning of “vulnerability”. For people with chronic diseases, the word carries an even heavier burden, both physical and emotional.
People with Diabetes (PWD) feel more vulnerable to the virus itself as experts seem to concur that they are at an increased risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19). They also worry about the potential impact of COVID-19 on their ability to manage their disease as well as potential shortages in medication and medical supplies, especially insulin. This in part explains why PWD feel the need to stockpile or at least build longer buffers than usual while being fully aware of the potential adverse effects of such actions on other people living with diabetes. In some countries, delays in the delivery of therapeutic devices, including sensors, have been reported, most probably due to transport difficulties, adding to these concerns.
Another worry for PWD is the access to medical care in the context of heavily burdened health systems. Outpatient follow-up visits are suspended almost everywhere, and the only contacts allowed between specialists and patients are often limited to remote consulting.
PWD also feel more exposed to the likelihood of potential lockdowns or so-called “shielding” scenarios. And what is more, in healthcare systems where PWD pay out of pocket, loss of income creates even more pressure.
The coronavirus pandemic is highlighting the ethical need for preparedness. This is true for all citizens but even more for patients with chronic diseases, including people with diabetes, which are more at risk. We call for all stakeholders to unite in promoting primary and secondary prevention, in ensuring a resilient market is in place to enable access to diabetes, technologies and devices and in focusing on innovation and increased virtual healthcare.
While focusing on immediate priorities and public health emergencies, we should all already start learning from this crisis and derive key imperatives to improve, in the longer term, the sustainability of our health systems and the coordination at national and European levels.
IDF Europe, the European branch of the International Diabetes Federation, is an umbrella organization of 70 national diabetes associations in 44 countries across the European region. In the context of the current COVID-19 pandemic, IDF Europe has published on its website (www.idfeurope.org) specific recommendations for people with diabetes, covering management of the condition during “sick days” and staying physically active during confinement. This information has been translated in several languages and posted on many Member Associations’ websites.