#cgm4all is SA’s first campaign, led by SA Diabetes Advocacy to get medical aids in South Africa to start funding a life-changing technology.
South Africa (03 July 2020) – Living with Type 1 diabetes is intense. It’s a constant balancing act between high and low blood sugar, using insulin injections and blood sugar testing to do the work of a pancreas that no longer works. But in the last few years, diabetes tech has changed many people’s lives, with the arrival of the Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM). These small devices are inserted in the skin and worn 24 hours a day. They provide continuous blood sugar readings without the need to prick a finger.
#cgm4all is South Africa’s first Type 1 diabetes advocacy campaign, led by SA Diabetes Advocacy: a social media campaign to get medical aids in South Africa to start funding this life-changing technology.
The #cgm4all campaign
“Diabetes is a difficult condition to manage that requires 24/7 care 365 days of the year,” explains Kirsten De Klerk from Bete It, one of SA Diabetes Advocacy’s members. “In the past, you had to urinate on a testing strip to see your sugar level. Technology progressed to the finger prick blood test method and has now progressed exponentially. We want South Africa to catch up.”
For those lucky enough to be on medical aids, people with diabetes are provided with a max of 150 strips a month – which allows for 5 blood sugar checks a day. What’s happening with your blood sugar in between those 5 points is a guessing game. CGMs offer continuous data throughout the day – and night – that give people with diabetes access to data that explains how their blood sugar reacts to different foods, exercise, stress, weather, hormones. It takes the guessing game out of daily life.
“With this constant data, people with diabetes are able to make better-informed decisions,” explains Kirsten. “They have the ability to actively improve their diabetes management, and avoid emergencies by correcting their sugar highs and lows before they become dangerous. This ultimately reduces the risk of the long-term complications like blindness, kidney failure and leg amputation.”
Type 1 diabetes advocacy
While 90% of people with diabetes in South Africa have Type 2 diabetes, Type 1 is the focus of this campaign because CGM tech is a game-changer for those who are insulin-dependent (who need to inject every day to stay alive). Bete It is a South African NPO aiming to build a national community to support and empower Type 1 diabetics.
“Our main focus is to create a platform for advocacy, awareness and education,” says Kirsten. Their work is supported by SA Diabetes Advocacy, an alliance of all the South African diabetes patient organisations.
“We want every insulin-dependent diabetic to live a less limited lifestyle,” says Kirsten. “We’ve seen the impact that CGMs have had on the diabetes community worldwide and we want South African diabetics to be afforded the opportunity of a better life with diabetes.”
A voice for diabetes
At the moment, no medical aids or public facilities are covering the costs of CGM in South Africa, despite the data proving that it has long-term benefits that outweigh the costs. The CGM conversation has to start somewhere.
“If we start the conversation with medical aid schemes and open the door for CGMs to be funded in the private sector, this will give us the opportunity to provide concrete evidence on the long-term benefits of CGMs in diabetes management in South Africa,” explains Kirsten. With twice-daily updates on Bete It’s social media from people living with diabetes all over SA who have felt the life-changing benefits of CGM, it’s clearly a conversation many want to have.
The future of diabetes tech
Some medical aids are considering diabetes tech like CGMs to be covered for the 2021 year. Discovery has responded to social media posts saying that they are in talks with Abbott, the manufacturer of the FreeStyle Libre, to have it as part of the formulary next year.
“We hope that by standing together as a Type 1 community in South Africa, we will create a louder voice for insulin-dependent diabetics,” says Kirsten. “We hope that medical aids will see the value in funding this life-changing technology and afford diabetic South Africans the chance to make better-informed decisions when it comes to their diabetes management.”
Find out more
See all the #cgm4all posts on www.diabetesadvocacy.org.za/2020-cgm4all-campaign
Find out more about SA Diabetes Advocacy: www.diabetesadvocacy.org.za
Find out more about Bete It: www.facebook.com/BeteIt
Find out more about Sweet Life: www.sweetlife.org.za
Join Diabetic South Africans, SA’s largest online diabetes community.