Thursday, April 24, 2008

Previewing "Life for a Child" Film at Tribeca Film Festival

This evening, I've been invited (along with Allison and Kerri, although I believe some others were invited but were unable to attend) to attend the "Life for a Child" documentary film being screened at the Tribeca Film Festival. The film will later be available online at the Life for a Child website (see the bottom of the page for details on where).

The documentary film, produced by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) and sponsored by Eli Lilly and Company to raise awareness of the devastating impact of diabetes in the developing world, is being screened at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival in New York from April 23 - May 4.

The film, directed by Academy Award nominee Edward Lachman, has been selected to compete for the honor of Best Short Documentary. It follows the journeys of children with type 1 diabetes amid the verdant mountains and bustling streets of Nepal, one of the world's poorest countries.

Why do I mention this? Because presently, big-named celebrities like Madonna, whose new documentary, "I Am Because We Are" which is all about Malawi, the AIDS-ravaged country where she controversially adopted her third child is receiving a lot more press attention -- in fact, she graces the cover of this month's Vanity Fair extolling the virtues of charity (particularly for orphans in Malawi), her new album, etc.

I don't dispute the importance of those issues or her right to bring attention to them, but I do find it a bit troubling that we so often hear about the AIDS epidemic in places like Africa (anyone who watched American Idol last week also saw that issue highlighted on tabloid television). But how many of you knew that International Diabetes Federation (IDF) estimates that 3.8 million people died as a result of diabetes in 2007? This is more than deaths from HIV/AIDS and nearly four times the deaths from malaria. What makes this so sad is that doesn't have to happen.

The IDF "Life for a Child" campaign aims to address this huge discrepancy in media coverage and call attention to the fact that around the world, many people are dying -- unnecessarily -- because of diabetes. The reason is because many people mistakenly believe that the issue has been a non-issue since the discovery of insulin in 1921, conveniently overlooking the fact that the logistics of getting basic supplies to some of these places makes it an unnecessary death sentence for these children. The "Life for a Child" program was established in 2001 with support from Diabetes Australia and HOPE worldwide.

Participants in "Life for a Child" part-sponsor the most needy children at diabetes centers in these countries. This sponsorship enables the children to receive the clinical care and diabetes education they need to stay alive. The centers provide thorough clinical and financial feedback.

The goals of the program are to provide:

  • Sufficient insulin and syringes
  • Blood glucose monitoring facilities
  • Appropriate clinical care
  • HbA1c testing
  • Diabetes education
  • Technical support for health professionals (if requested)
  • Some centers need support for all these areas, others need support for some components.

This is a big reason for the IDF "Life for a Child" program -- to raise awareness of the people who do not have access to even the most basic healthcare that so many of us take for granted. I hope you'll take a few minutes to look into the "Life for a Child" campaign.

4 comments:

Jonah said...

Scott- your figure on how many are dying of diabetes is irrelevant to the life for a child campaign because that's not the number of children dying of type one diabetes for lack of insulin.
There are more people under twenty dying of HIV than of diabetes.
P.S. This is not to say that I think it's at all trivial that there are people developing diabetes and dying for lack of access to insulin.

Anonymous said...

Scott--

It might be interesting to ask if any of these children DO have access to insulin. If so, are calamitous outcomes witnessed because (1) the 'gifted' insulin is fast-acting & peaky; (2) regular monitoring is impossible; and (3) FOOD is not readily available. The problem is probably broader than 'only' lack of insulin.
--Melody

Anonymous said...

Lilly is sponsoring this to "raise awareness"? I suspect Lilly wants to be high on the list for no-bid contracts if our government and/or charities step in to fill a void. And what is better than brand-recognition?

Lilly won't care whether revenue comes from third-world governments, American/International charities, or the American taxpayer (via government). The erosion of trust in pharmaceuticals continues apace; it's difficult for me to believe that Lilly's sponsorship motives are "Lilly (sic) white."

Brent

Scott said...

Jonah, You're right that they aren't all children, but many of them ARE. I wouldn't call that irrelevant, thus the Life for a Child campaign.

But the numbers relative to another condition are less relevant than the cause: insulin is not a new treatment (indeed, it wasn't invented by any company, but discovered researchers at U of Toronto) and no company invested billions to develop it (which is a complaint about why AIDS treatments don't reach many of these people), so its simply lack of access to basic, lifesaving medicines. This campaign aims to address that.