Diabetes in Cambodia: Hope thanks to Insulin For Life

I received this compelling story from Rob Raab, head of Insulin for Life, a great project that makes life possible for thousands of people in developing countries. We have featured them previously, as part of the Green Diabetes video.

Greetings, I was fortunate to be able to visit Cambodia in October. I could do this on my way to an International Diabetes Federation meeting in London, that I was invited to attend, about access, for children with diabetes in developing countries, to insulin on a sustainable basis.

Insulin for Life Australia has a long standing and major program in Cambodia.

I met some of the patients and physicians there and saw first hand how the insulin that we are supplying, and met the pharmacist and others involved.

I also visited another hospital catering for the very poor. I learned that only in the last decade or so have people with type 1 diabetes had any real chance of survival, and I met some of the desperately poor patients. One of them Ol Sarun (photo attached), a 26 year old and married with a 2 year old son, who was diagnosed in 2007 with the usual symptoms of extreme thirst and weight loss. He and his family are very poor and lives 26 kilometres from the capital Phnom Penh. Dr Touch Khun has been giving him some insulin that he has been able to obtain from various sources so Sarun (first name) has been kept alive. Dr Khun told me that without such assistance this young family man would have died, and his 2 year old son would not have a father.

I did not visit Cambodia with any significant amount of insulin, as I was not expecting to be in a position where I needed to distribute it there personally to save lives; however I always carry extra supplies, and so I gave some to the desperately poor type 1's that I met, as an interim measure, until we were able to establish an additional program for such people by IFL Australia.

A young lady, Bun Lim, who is 19 year old ( photo attached, and note how thin she is) is in a desperate situation, and is traumatized emotionally by everything she had been through. I think you can sense this also from the photo. I gave her some money with a promise to Dr Khun that I would do everything I could to set up a program to supply insulin and that I hope we could build on in the years to come.

Another patient, whom I met some distance from the capital in a rural clinic, had a form of type 1 diabetes that did not exhibit ketones (Mody), but you can see that this 29 year old lady is extremely thin as she had also been without insulin for several months. She had used the US$50 donated to her by a person from Scandinavia partly for the transport cost to get to the diabetes clinic in the city, and this donation had been used up. Again I used my own insulin supply as an interim measure and gave her a 10 vial of NPH (photo attached); again with the hope that the insulin that we would start sending very soon would serve these people.

Another photo attached is of Orin from MoPoTsyo patient Center, who was one of their early patients, and was dying, and he now works for them.

With the help of our international team, IFL Global is able to keep alive 3500 people with insulin that would otherwise be wasted.


Ron Raab B.Ec, OAM
President, Insulin for Life Inc www.insulinforlife.org
Past Vice-President (2000-2006), International Diabetes Federation