This post is one of a series of seven blog posts that go behind the scenes on our recent short film Insulin for Life. Watch the film below and check back on our blog for more stories about the people in the documentary.
The sign for the Belize Diabetes Association hangs above the intersection of Mahogany Street and Central American Boulevard in Belize City, Belize. It notifies passersby of a small set of offices that act as a pipeline for life-saving supplies and a source of information for many people in this small Central American nation.
Anthony Castillo, the President of the Belize Diabetes Association (BDA) guided our film crew around the complex dynamics surrounding the treatment of diabetes in Belize. The country is widely defined as middle-income, with an annual per capita income of around $4,500. The US Government estimates that about 40% of the population lives below the poverty line, with some estimates of extreme poverty hovering around 10%. As Anthony Castillo says, many people in Belize fight to maintain steady household finances even without the burden of purchasing medical supplies for a chronic illness.
“Not everyone with diabetes has access to insulin and for those who have access, it comes at a cost. Medical costs can be astronomical,” Mr. Castillo told our film crew. He added that even for those who can afford medical supplies, often visits to their pharmacy for refills reveal that the particular insulin or needles they require for care are nowhere to be found due to supply chain issues.
“We inform the parents that once they are diagnosed, all supplies that they ever need to maintain their diabetes, we will be able to give them free of cost,” Mr. Castillo explained. The BDA has a group of children and adults on their roster. Though all are entitled to receive free insulin and supplies – many just come for test strips or syringes and purchase insulin on their own if they are able.
The Belize Diabetes Association also has a consistent schedule of diabetes education courses and events. When they hear of a new diagnosis from a local physician, one of their staff members visits the patient in the hospital to welcome them to the community. Mr. Castillo is often the person who makes hospital calls to newly diagnosed, offering their first introduction to the kindness, education and support that the BDA provides its members.
Mr. Castillo credits donations of insulin and supplies, like those that come from Insulin for Life USA, for helping to keep people with diabetes in Belize healthy.
“If we didn’t have these supplies, especially the supplies form IFL, it would be a great challenge for people. Not everyone would be able to purchase the supplies, hence the reason there would be a number of person suffering from complications.”
Watch the film to learn more about how the Belize Diabetes Association helps their members.
To donate supplies or funds to Insulin for Life USA click here.