Issue brief |

A century of neglect: challenges of access to insulin for diabetes care

Why is insulin, discovered almost 100 years ago, not readily available to people who need it? A combination of factors, including high prices, challenging storage requirements and complex treatment protocols, all contribute to preventing access.

Photograph by Linane Saad

An estimated 422 million people are living with diabetes worldwide. Prevalence has nearly doubled over the past 30 years and is now rising faster in low- and middle-income countries than in high-income countries.

Diabetes is a chronic, progressive disease that can be controlled with effective treatment. However, in many countries, people living with diabetes are not getting the treatment they need to stay healthy. In fact, only about half of people requiring insulin have access to it.

MSF works in over 70 countries worldwide and in most of these settings, insulin is often not available in public health facilities or private pharmacies. In 20 projects across 11 countries, MSF focuses on diabetes as one of the most common non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in people receiving care in our clinics.