The International Diabetes Federation (IDF) estimates that approximately 5 million people die each year as a consequence of diabetes.1 Many of these deaths could be prevented with proper access to medicines and supplies.

People with diabetes require medicines to control their blood glucose levels, blood pressure and blood lipids, equipment to monitor their blood glucose levels, and a healthcare system that can provide integrated and comprehensive care to all parts of the country.

"Unfortunately, the quality of care for people with diabetes varies widely around the world."

In many high-income countries, people with diabetes have access to all components of care. In some other countries, quality care is inaccessible or unaffordable. Continuous accessibility to medicines is still a major problem in many less-resourced areas, especially in low and middle-income countries.

Nearly 100 years after its discovery by Frederick Banting and Charles H. Best, insulin is still not available on an uninterrupted basis in many parts of the world. This is an issue in low- and middle-income countries, as well as low-income groups in some high-income countries. Often, the total supply of medicine is less than required, there are transportation problems, or medicine is not available in regional areas. Solutions to improving access include increased education of health professionals, reducing taxes and duties, promoting competition and high-quality generic medicines, differential pricing, good procurement practices, and open access to pricing information.

"In the case of insulin, the lack of a reliable or continuous supply can lead to severe illness and death."

IDF has recently released a report on Access to Medicine and Supplies for People with Diabetes2, providing evidence on the daily challenges faced on the ground and encouraging intersectoral collaboration to strengthen health systems and improve access to medicines and supplies. The report is the result of a global survey, conducted in 2016, of people with diabetes and health professionals on their ability to access medicines and supplies. It provides evidence-based policy recommendations, enables policy makers in low- and high-resource settings to make informed decisions, and supports IDF members in advocating for increased access to medicines.

Responsibility for improving access lies with a number of stakeholders, and therefore IDF calls for all parties in the public and private sector to come together and develop sustainable strategies to improve the lives of those with diabetes, and at the same time promote growth and development.


1. International Diabetes Federation. IDF Diabetes Atlas, 7th edn. Brussels, Belgium: International Diabetes Federation, 2015.

2. International Diabetes Federation. Access to Medicines and Supplies for People with Diabetes. Brussels, Belgium: International Diabetes Federation, 2016.