Insulin for Life – saving lives around the world

At Beta Change, we are passionate about supporting organisations that are making a difference in the diabetes community. One such organisation we support is Insulin for Life – a not-for-profit that planted its humble roots in Australia.

To date, Insulin for Life Australia has been honoured with several  international awards, including The International Diabetes Federation Award 2009 – “In Recognition of Outstanding Service to Diabetes”; The American Diabetes Association – Harold Rifkin Award for Distinguished International Service; The Lilly Partnership in Diabetes Global and Australian Awards; The Sir Philip Sherlock Distinguished Award and the Novo Nordisk Hagedorn Medal for Humanitarian Medical Assistance.

In this article, we were lucky to chat with Insulin for Life Australia about what their work.

How did Insulin for Life Australia come about?

In many countries, insulin can cost the user more than 50% of the average per capita annual income.  As a result, many people cannot afford their life-saving insulin, a critical problem in countries where the full, unsubsidised price is high and must be paid by the user, or the family, over many years or decades. Consequently, many adults and children die due to lack of insulin. Insulin for Life receives and redistributes donated in date, unopened and no longer needed insulin and other diabetes supplies to such countries.

“Many of these supplies would have otherwise been wasted. Instead they are saving many lives.” – Ron Raab OAM, Founder of Insulin for Life, Past Vice-President of the International Diabetes Federation 2000-2006. 

How does the collected insulin and diabetes supplies get redistributed?

These are sent following specific requests from recognised organisations and with an agreed protocol. Insulin for Life Australia usually receives the transport and handling costs from the recipient organisations or their supporters, making this a partnership and a sustainable program.

Insulin for Life also has a partnership with the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) both in response to emergency requests and on an ongoing basis with the IDF Life for a Child Sponsorship Programs. In an emergency, a few months’ supply may be all that is needed, giving a person time to replenish their ongoing supplies.

What else does Insulin for Life do?

In recent years, Insulin for Life Australia programs have expanded to include camps for children with diabetes in Ecuador and the Philippines where several camps are held each year. These may be the only source of diabetes education and meeting other children with Type 1 diabetes, which offers a source of great encouragement, support and fun. Insulin for Life Australia also supports the camps with diabetes supplies.

With the growth of Insulin for Life Australia, Insulin for Life Global has been created as a separate organisation with the aim of assisting in the coordination of activities of the Insulin for Life organisations that exist in 9 countries.

How can people find out more about Insulin for Life and collection points around the world?

Diabetes Emergency Kits – Part 3

Welcome back to the final part of our Diabetes Emergency Kit series. So far, we have covered the importance of a day-to-day emergency kit in Part 1 as well as a larger kit for a natural disaster or an emergency event in Part 2. In the final part of our series, we will talk about access to diabetes medication and supplies during an emergency if you haven’t got a kit or if you need a top up.

Written by Fiona Scott.

So we learned all about diabetes emergency kits.

What do we do now? 

As well as utilising the checklists we mentioned in Part 1 and Part 2 of the blog series, it is important to know where you can access additional insulin and other diabetes supplies during an emergency. 

In response to emergency events across the globe, Insulin For Life do their best to send donated unwanted insulin and diabetes supplies to the affected region. For information on where Insulin For Life has global affiliates or donating insulin or diabetes supplies, please visit their website:

Remember to check up on your kit!

With any emergency kit, it is important to revisit it regularly. Set a yearly calendar reminder on your phone to revise and update your diabetes emergency kit and plan. If a particular season has a higher risk for natural disasters such as bushfires or hurricanes, it is a good idea to update your emergency kit and plan before this time.

Unfortunately, some natural disasters or emergency events are unexpected with no warning, which highlights the importance of a diabetes emergency kit and plan. Ensure that your emergency contacts, medication and current regimens are up-to-date and replace any perishable food or items that may have expired.

If your country has a diabetes emergency plan or if you have experienced a situation where a diabetes emergency kit or plan has been helpful, please share them with the Beta Change community.

Do you have other tips or tricks for your diabetes emergencies? We want to hear about them and add them to our list of resources!

Disclaimer: This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider.

Diabetes Emergency Kits – Part 2

Welcome back to our Diabetes Emergency Kit series. In Part 1, we talked about the importance of being prepared with a day-to-day emergency kit. Now we will look at preparing for a natural disaster or an emergency event. Click here to revisit Part 1, check out Part 3 here and click here to check out our Virtual Roundtable on Diabetes Emergency Kits.

Written by Fiona Scott.

Natural Disaster or Emergency Event Diabetes Emergency Kits and Plans
Another type of diabetes emergency kit is one we need for emergencies such as a natural disasters or times when you need leave or evacuate in a hurry. This emergency kit takes a little more planning and needs a bigger storage bag or container. 

Being prepared is key to make sure you are in a position to manage your diabetes in a crisis, and reduce the risk of infections and DKA. These emergency plans are important as they explain what is needed in an emergency pack (i.e. 3 weeks supply of insulin, phone, water) and also contain information you may not remember instantly in a crisis (i.e. medical contacts, medical information) all listed in one place. Once your plan is complete, you can keep it in your emergency box and update it each year or if changes occur in your diabetes management.

Since Hurricane Katrina, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) have played a key role in ensuring people with diabetes and carers have access to up to date information including how and where to access insulin and other diabetes supplies. These emergency plans and kits can also be adapted to suit where you live, if there isn’t already a resource easily available.

A couple of extra handy hints are to: 

  • Take a photo of the emergency plan with your phone. Therefore you will always have up-to-date information in multiple places.
  • Add a note to your emergency kit to remind yourself to pack your insulin.

There are some fantastic resources that can guide you on how to plan for an emergency. Two of the plans we discussed at the Virtual Roundtable came from the United States and Australia.

Disclaimer: This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider.

Diabetes Emergency Kits – Part 1

The Beta Change team held a Virtual Roundtable in October to discuss diabetes emergency kits. It was a conversation that was thought-provoking, funny (Ash keeps life-saving lipstick in hers…), and honest. Our Emergency Kit Expert, Fi, has written a 3-part series on the Beta Change Blog to expand on the Roundtable discussion. Read on for more and check out Part 2 and Part 3 too.

Written by Fiona Scott.

Day-to-day Emergency Kits
An important part of living with diabetes is being prepared – not just in the event of an emergency, but also for day-to-day unplanned events in our lives. It could be that your insulin pump line falls out at work, you left your insulin at home, or your pump battery goes flat in your pump while you’re travelling. Therefore, maintaining a day-to-day emergency kit is important to ensure diabetes lives with us and we don’t live within the constraints of diabetes.

Sample list of what to include in your day-to-day emergency kit:

  • Hypo treatment (i.e. glucose tablets, glucose gel)
  • Blood glucose meter
  • Blood glucose test strips
  • Blood ketone strips
  • Fast acting insulin (e.g. novolog, apidra)
  • Insulin pen/syringe 
  • Pen needle tips
  • Spare reservoir cartridge (for pump users)
  • Spare site change (for pump users)
  • Spare batteries (for pump users)
  • Information on how to work out insulin doses in case of pump line failure with ketones (for pump users)

Your day-to-day emergency kit has to go everywhere with you so make sure you find an awesome bag for it! An everyday emergency kit has the ability to prevent a hospital admission or ensure a romantic date is not cut short, but most of all it means diabetes won’t stop us doing something be it work or play. 

Disclaimer: This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider.


A couple of weeks have flown by since the American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE) Annual Meeting. I’ve been taking this time to reflect on the busy few days that was AADE17, which was filled with many new learnings and plenty of networking. Here are my main summary points from the conference. Don’t forget to check out our Facebook page for my daily takeaways from each day at the conference.

1. Affordability and Accessibility
#Access4all has been a huge movement over the past few years with the rising cost of insulin. But I realised that we can and should actually break this down to accessibility and affordability. Access is the first barrier predominantly faced by developing countries. Without access, it doesn’t matter how much money you have, getting insulin is difficult. The other problem that we see, especially in countries like the United States, is insulin affordability, which draws a real divide between the wealthy and the poor. However, access is there, whether it be through emergency departments, free clinics or cheaper varieties of insulin. 

Both are difficult challenges to tackle and I believe that part of the solution is to work closely with industry, government, healthcare professionals and people with diabetes to drive change, which brings us nicely to our next point.

2. Collaborative approach to change
Part of our mission at Beta Change to bring industry, healthcare professionals, researchers, policy makers and people with diabetes together to create change within and across diabetes communities. For the past year, we have been trying to find the right channels to reach out to other stakeholders. From many of the sessions, it sounds like they’re willing to collaborate too. So we’re doubling our efforts to make this happen. It is crucial that the voices of people who are passionate to create change in the global diabetes community are heard. In time, we hope that your voice and your passion can lead to a partnership with Beta Change. If you’re interested, feel free to drop us a line, we’d love to chat!

3. The importance of mentorship 
One of the special moments of flying across the world for AADE to share my research was the opportunity to meet many of my international diabetes friends who also attended the conference. Throughout the conference, I was lucky to be provided with very wise words, guidance and encouragement personally and professionally. And I thought “imagine what budding diabetes advocates could do with such inspiring advice and networks”, which reinforces our goal at Beta Change to develop a mentorship program so that potential leaders can have the same support and resources to achieve their advocacy efforts. 

So there you have it! Those are my takeaways from AADE17. Check out the #AADE17 on Twitter for more conversations.

Disclosure: My attendance at AADE17 was partially funded by a grant from Deakin University, Australia, as part of my PhD program and for a poster presentation on my research. The grant covered my flights and some accommodation costs. 

Diabetes Tech Updates from the American Diabetes Association 77th Scientific Sessions

Beta Change co-founder, Pei Yan, recently visited San Diego – and her visit coincided with the American Diabetes Association’s 77th Scientific Sessions (attended by fellow Beta Change co-founder Robert Brooks). Here she shares her top tech takeaways – try saying that ten times fast! – of the world’s biggest diabetes conference.

We checked out Johnson & Johnson’s brand-new OneTouch product: the OneTouch Via. It is a thin, tubeless, on-demand insulin delivery system. There is a trigger mechanism by each side of the patch and each simultaneous click delivers 2 units of insulin. Pretty sleek and no hassle of dangling tubing. The only downside is that it only delivers exactly 2 units of insulin per click, so sorry, no 1 or half units doses!

After clinical trials of the highly anticipated 670G system by Medtronic, the insulin pump is officially in the U.S. market. Users of the 630G system will be first in line for an upgrade. The 670G comes with an algorithm (when used with the Guardian 3 sensor) that detects glucose patterns of the user throughout the day and then automatically suspends and resumes or adjusts basal delivery accordingly. The display interface is quite different when compared to the 630G/ 640G system with its coloured shield display.

Also available at the Medtronic booth was the improved i-port system for MDIs. The i-port Advance system comes with an integrated inserter (similar to their Mio infusion set) which makes inserting the i-port much easier. The product was launched in 2014 (no wonder I find the inserter familiar – we had the chance to trial it at the Singapore children’s diabetes camp two years ago).

OpenAPS refers to Open Artificial Pancreas System, such as Nightscout. It provides a platform for communication and information for anyone with compatible medical devices who is willing to build their own basic artificial pancreas system. It is quite interesting to see the trend of somebody’s blood glucose on the computer’s screen. Not only does it show the most recent trend, but it also shows the trend of the past 72 hours.

Other interesting new technologies showcased at the ADA conference include a new receiver from Dexcom and a soon to be launched device by Omnipod, as reported by diaTribe.

I also had the opportunity to meet with many people whom I have been wanting to meet face to face. On a somewhat somber note, I was invited to join in the informal farewell toast for Diabetes Hands Foundation as they close their operations and are absorbed by Beyond Type 1.

I wished I could have stayed longer to meet more people, but unfortunately I had other travel plans.

Catch up on more tech news and diabetes community updates on Twitter by using the hashtag #2017ADA.

Edited post; republished with permission from Pei Yan’s blog.

Welcome to Beta Change

Welcome to the Beta Change blog! Here, we share with you stories from the diabetes community. For our very first story, we want to tell you about how we came to be…

Beta Change was co-founded by RobertStephaniePei YanKatie and Ashley. We met through the International Diabetes Federation’s Young Leaders in Diabetes Programme. In 2017, we welcomed Fiona to the team. We will each tell you our own stories of how we arrived at Beta Change, but – spoiler alert! – a central theme continues to be the inspiration and energy stemming from the tangible connections we make with young diabetes advocates from all over the world. These connections are what motivate us each day to fill the gaps we see within the diabetes community, and Beta Change resulted from those initial sparks of inspiration!

Beta Change aims to bring the diabetes community together. From grassroots advocates to healthcare professionals, from policy makers to industry movers and shakers – we believe everyone has an important role to play and something important to contribute. By working with each other, we will be the change we want to see in the diabetes community.

Today, we are building Beta Change brick by brick. We invite you to join us as we create a world in which diabetes isn’t a barrier to a full and happy life, anywhere and everywhere!