When the disease is a source of discrimination

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I suffer from an invisible and stealthy disease that brings its share of serious complications over the years. However, nothing appears. I smile and seem to live day by day, like any healthy person.

However, my existence is marked by about 200 decisions to be made every day just for my health. I live with a second parallel thought system that, like a sentinel, tries to prevent me from the terrible consequences of this disease.

I have to plan everything or I might die. I am handling a vital substance but with a high potential for danger. In a healthcare setting, two signatures are required to administer it.

I have insulin dependent diabetes. Did you know that diabetics have far more mental health problems (depression, suicidal thoughts, anxiety, etc.) than the general population? In addition, we suffer more frequently from serious diseases, the consequences of the difficult management of the disease (chronic renal failure, blindness, amputations, coronary heart disease, neuropathy, etc.).

Good news

Technology has come on leaps and bounds in recent years, and thanks to the use of a smart insulin pump, we can finally start living an almost normal life again. This is a fantastic revolution for people like me.

Combined with a continuous blood glucose meter, this pump allows insulin doses to be adjusted in real time to avoid life-threatening blood sugar variations.

That’s why five out of ten Canadian provinces, as well as all three territories, reimburse the cost of an insulin pump to all citizens who need it.

In addition, the federal government has introduced a bill in the Commons aimed at creating a new national framework to improve access to diabetes treatment and prevention in Canada. The insulin pump is now recognized as a preferred treatment for diabetics.

Finally, in May 2022 in Quebec, the National Institute of Excellence in Health and Social Services (INESSS) said it was in favor of reimbursing pumps for all diabetics who need them.

Bad news

In addition, Quebec is different. It continues to cover the costs of this treatment only for diabetics diagnosed before the age of 18; these people are covered for life after that. We are, of course, happy for them, but what about diabetics diagnosed as adults?

This is definitely discrimination. However, to put an end to this blatant injustice, diabetics in Quebec, of which I am a member, created a coalition last August.

Admittedly, this treatment is expensive: a pump costs about $7,000 and lasts an average of four years. In addition, related supplies cost approximately $4,000 per year. That’s why most of us can’t afford it. It is also true that the ill effects of this disease cost taxpayers a fortune: for example, dialysis for a single person costs $80,000 a year. Ultimately, universal coverage of this treatment would save the population of Quebec a considerable amount.

That is why, a few days before World Diabetes Day, November 14, 2023, we ask the Quebec government to end this discriminatory situation by offering universal reimbursement of the cost of the insulin pump and related supplies, as is the case of the majority of Canadians with this disease.

This would allow us to recover a quality of life so that we too can contribute to the best of our society.

Photo provided by Nathalie Godin

Nathalie Godin, diabetic for over 30 years