April 23, 2020
The global Covid-19 pandemic has not spared Sri Lanka. The first case was registered in February, a migrant worker from China who subsequently recovered and left the country. As the number of cases grew, the Government of Sri Lanka imposed a nation-wide lockdown on March 20. The lockdown is still in place and may be extended further.
Over 700 young people living with type 1 diabetes are registered at the National Diabetes Centre (NDC) Rajagiriya, headquarters of the Diabetes Association of Sri Lanka and the NCD Alliance Lanka. Half of these regularly receive insulin, blood glucose meters, test strips, laboratory tests and medical guidance free of charge. They are underprivileged and therefore unable to purchase insulin from private sector pharmacies.
One week after the lockdown started, we received calls from our young people with diabetes, telling us that they could not access the insulin they needed from government hospitals. We investigated further and found that the public health system had exhausted its stock of this vital medicine.
Dhanuka Dilshan (better known as Vikasith), an IDF Young Leader in Diabetes (YLD), had made us aware of this serious situation. We contacted another YLD, Dinuka Jude, and together we mobilized our staff to call each person with type 1 diabetes to assess how much insulin they had left. We then put together individualized packages of insulin and test strips for over 100 people with type 1 diabetes in different districts of Sri Lanka. We called our relief effort #SavealifeCovid-19SL.