News and insights brought to you by the International Diabetes Federation

Spare a Rose promotional image

For many people around the world, February means Valentine’s Day and romance, roses and declarations of love. For the Diabetes Online Community (DOC) and global diabetes advocates, February means one thing only: Spare a Rose, Save a Child.

Spare a Rose was developed in 2013 by a small group of advocates connected to the DOC looking for a way to support people with diabetes in less-resourced countries. Fundraising for the initiative begins around Valentine’s Day with a very specific ask:  instead of sending a dozen roses for Valentine’s Day (February 14th), why not send eleven roses and donate the 12th rose to Life for a Child.  The value of a single rose (about US$5) provides one month’s supply of insulin to a child in need.

Life for a Child (LFAC) provides critical diabetes medications, supplies and education to young people who would otherwise have nowhere to turn. The program currently supports over 21,000 young people with diabetes in 42 countries around the world. This year marks the seventh anniversary #SpareaRose has been running.  Since 2013, nearly US$190,000 has been raised and donated directly to LFAC. This six-figure roughly equates to a year’s supply of insulin for over 3,166 children with diabetes.

The average life span of a child diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in sub-Saharan Africa is only 12 months.

The campaign has also highlighted where a child lives and is diagnosed often determines the quality of care and access to medicines. In some under-resourced countries, children and young people living with type 1 diabetes are unable to access life-saving insulin, blood glucose testing tools and diabetes education. Many people would be horrified to learn that the average life span of a child diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in sub-Saharan Africa is only 12 months. Access to diabetes medications, supplies, healthcare and education shouldn’t be determined by geography, but while that continues to be the case, the Spare a Rose campaign provides greatly needed support and funds.

The magic of the Spare a Rose campaign is in its simplicity: one rose equals a month of life for a child with diabetes; twelve roses equal a year of life. This modest equation shows that even small donations can make a significant impact. As the initiative has grown, many people have donated their entire Valentine’s Day rose budget to Spare a Rose. There are wonderful photos posted online on Valentine’s Day showing empty vases. After all, is there a more beautiful and romantic gift than saving the life of a child with diabetes?

In 2020, the campaign continues to be a strongly led community and social media campaign with the hashtag #SpareaRose. Anyone and everyone affected by diabetes can be a part of it by donating, sharing details of  the campaign with #SpareaRose on social media and encouraging others to contribute. Roses die, children with diabetes shouldn’t. Please donate.

How can you get involved?

It’s easy! You can make a donation by going to Spare A Rose.  You can share the campaign on social media with all your networks, encouraging your families and friends to donate.

How to spare a rose


Renza Scibilia has lived with type 1 diabetes since April 1998. She is a well-known diabetes patient advocate and activist, promoting a person-centred approach to healthcare, and in the development of diabetes information, services and technologies.

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