Not caring for children with diabetes is a human rights violation

Predominantly type-I diabetes affects children. "In case of these children with type-I diabetes, when they don't get insulin it is deciding whether they will survive or they will die" said Dr Anil Kapur, President of the World Diabetes Foundation (WDF) who was conferred upon the IDRF Lifetime Achievement Award last week. "So it is a basic human rights to live issue here. It needs to be stressed that governments in every country in the world should make sure that these children get access to proper care - in terms of supply of insulin, diagnostics and for monitoring and also they should receive information on how they should remain healthy day-to-day" said Dr Anil Kapur.

"In many developing countries these children do not have access to even proper care and treatment, they do not get insulin, they don't have facility to monitor themselves, and many times people who are treating them - physicians, general practitioners - are often not aware that children also get type-I diabetes and sometimes these children would die even before a diagnosis is made in many of the developing countries" added Dr Anil Kapur.

One important issue is to create the awareness about the type-I diabetes in children and making sure that there is access to appropriate care and treatment. "In World Diabetes Foundation (WDF) we have been advocating that this should be seen as a human rights issue unlike other conditions, where making treatment available is about surviving and about finding a better quality of life" said Dr Anil Kapur.

"Increasingly with rising obesity around the world the first people who are getting affected in a big way are the children. And increasingly we are finding that more and more children are overweight or obese in the developing countries. These are often the children that are born small in weight, and they often have high levels of fat, and increasingly the doctors that are treating children are finding that these children get a different form of diabetes (type-II diabetes) in late teens" said Dr Anil Kapur.

"This is a sorry state of affairs because they would live a long part of their life with type-II diabetes which increases the risk for various other complications that are associated with diabetes and this form of diabetes is eminently preventable, and we need to create public awareness about prevention of obesity, about ensuring that school children have the ability to play sports, they have access to playgrounds and access to physical activity, and in the curriculum it is important that physical activity is not taken out, and instead of putting in more academic subjects, and loading children with lot of homework, I think we have become too obsessed with performance and high test grades, and both parents and children are under pressure that children must perform well academically" said Dr Kapur.

When children come back from school they have lot of homework and no time to play. The other issue is that even if they have time to play outside school, the outside urban environment is often not safe. "So these are some of the issues about urbanization, about providing safe areas for children to play, and do outdoor physical activity. It could be done in school, it could be done at home, or in community parks, this is something that we need to do for the future generation. Failing to do that I think we will be faced with a massive problem of not only diabetes but consequences of diabetes in terms of cardiovascular diseases, stroke, kidney failures, blindness, amputation among others. It is very important to focus attention on this aspect too" emphasized Dr Anil Kapur. (CNS)

Bobby Ramakant – CNS
(The author is a CNS Policy Adviser and received the World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General's WNTD Award 2008. He writes extensively on health and development for Citizen News Service (CNS). Email: [email protected], website:

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