Africa: A Gamechanger for Diabetes Care in Refugee Settings or Resource-Poor Countries or in Hard to Reach Settings


Seeking to explore ways to improve diabetes care in resource poor settings a joint study by Médecins Sans Frontières /Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and University of Geneva published in February in PLOS ONE , has demonstrated that a range of insulins can be stored at temperatures ranging between 25-37 degrees for a four–week period of use. This study confirms the possibility for people living with diabetes in similar temperature conditions to be able to use insulin, for a period of up to four weeks, even in the absence of access to refrigeration.

Diabetes is a chronic, progressive disease that can be controlled with effective treatment. However, in many countries, people living with diabetes are not getting the treatment they need to stay healthy and alive. It is a shameful fact that only about half of people requiring insulin have access to it. Access to insulin has been largely prevented due to high prices, challenging storage requirements and complex treatment protocols.

Strict storage recommendations for insulin are difficult to follow in tropical regions and even more challenging in conflict and humanitarian emergency settings, adding an extra burden for people managing their diabetes. Storage recommendations for insulin require refrigeration until its expiry date, or until it is opened for use. Once in use, the storage recommendations on the label of most human insulins are below 25°C for 42 days. In many settings, this results in people being asked to travel to the health clinic for injections and monitoring, at least twice a day, for life.