- Alec Raeshawn Smith (26 years old; USA)
- Shane Patrick Boyle (48 years old; USA)
- Kevin Houdeshell (36 years old; USA)
- Antavia Worsham (22 years old; USA)*
- Others worldwide whose names we do not know
This list honors those confirmed to have died prematurely due to healthcare inaccessibility and/or* the high costs of obtaining insulin. Sadly, these deaths occurred in the 21st century, at a time where cutting-edge treatments and healthcare benefits are hot topics.
We can and we must do better.
While I am normally shouting from the rooftops for a diabetes cure, this year feels different. The diabetes community will never forget the names on that list, which speaks to their continued advocacy even after death.
My one ask on World Diabetes Day (WDD) 2017 is this:
Let’s not add more names to this list by the next WDD, or the next one, and so on. The clock starts now.
The best memorial we can provide for those named here is to keep that list stagnant through our collective efforts. Whether you identify as a fellow person with diabetes; someone who loves a person with diabetes; an employee of Pharma / PBM (pharmacy benefit manager) / insurance company / healthcare entity; an advocate; a non-profit leader or volunteer; an elected representative; a healthcare provider; or simply a human being with a heart, we must actively address this issue, together.
All politics aside, the only meaningful, mutually exclusive interests when it comes to insulin are life or death. Particularly in the past year, we have encouraged a more open dialogue among many parties in the healthcare equation. I hope that today reinvigorates us to keep moving that dial forward, toward more equitable opportunities for survival and quality of life for every person touched by diabetes.
There are many blog posts and articles out there detailing how this can be done effectively. My little piece of WDD advocacy is not to reinvent that wheel today. It is simply to ask us to reflect on lives lost too soon, and on so many others who fight convoluted healthcare systems all over the globe in search of insulin.
Keep saying their names. May we hold their stories closely today, and always.
If you know of other names we can honor and remember here, please contact me to update the list. Thank you.
*This post was updated on April 26, 2018.