I am a mother of two boys, aged 8 and 4, and I work as a finance director in a company in Croatia. I’m currently completing a PHD in finance and in my free time I enjoy traveling, riding a motorcycle, skydiving and other sport activities.
I also have diabetes. I was diagnosed with diabetes more than 11 years ago. Nobody in my family had diabetes so it was quite a shock and a major lifestyle change. Thankfully, both of my pregnancies were fine and without major complications despite having diabetes. For me, diabetes was kind of a motivator in trying to achieve the maximum and trying new things in life.
I’m Vice-President of the Croatian diabetes organization, an umbrella organization of local group and have been a number of local diabetes projects. I’m also a board member of the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) Europe, based in Brussels.
It’s interesting to see how the patient voice and the role of patient advocacy is growing; patients are a key participant in expert panel discussions and roundtables. I remember when people did not want to hear our voice; that has changed considerably: people now see that only patients have an insider view on their needs and without the patient voice, there can be issues further down the line.
1. What medical devices are relevant to your disease area?
Glucometers that measure the amount of glucose in the blood, are important, as are insulin pumps that release insulin over time. CGMs that constantly monitor your blood glucose are also devices used by patients.
Connecting with healthcare professionals is very important: there are devices that can send the results of your blood glucose level to care-givers as well as the patients themselves. Technology can also help to educate and generate awareness.
Technology is improving constantly; it is vital that such innovations are accessible for patients and rolled out across Europe.
2. Have you seen any developments in recent years in the treatment of the disease, which were helpful to you?
Research into diabetes is advancing all the time. There’s a lot of development in the area of CGMs. For parents, these advances in CGM technology are crucial, particularly for very small babies and young children. Parents experience challenges trying to measure the glucose levels of their young children and CGMs help them monitor the sugar in the blood throughout the day. Such monitoring is especially important at night, when parents can check the sugar levels and as children’s eating and sleeping patterns change.
3. What initiatives to educate people about the disease have you been involved in or seen, which you think might be interesting for other countries to learn from?
The role of patient advocacy is outstanding; it’s very organized and we work closely with healthcare professionals.
Diabetes UK has a wonderful programme for young adults living with diabetes. Children and teenagers growing up with diabetes all across Europe are often affected emotionally by their condition, they can de depressed and even sometimes have taken their own lives. Diabetes UK are trying to tackle this head-on, spending several weeks with young people discussing their issues as part of an education programme.
4. If you had a wish to your government and the medtech industry for the future, what would it be?
Diabetes is reaching epidemic levels, and yet there is still not enough attention, nor resources provided, for prevention. Governments and healthcare systems are still spending too much time and money on treating complications, medical devices and medicines, rather than on prevention, and quality medicine and medical devices.
Diabetes is a huge and growing problem and costs to society are high and escalating. Over 10% of total healthcare expenditure is spent on diabetes. However, 89% out of the total 10% is used for treating complications, while only 11% on prevention, medicine and medical devices
While research and development is increasing, access to the latest and most innovative medicines, treatments and devices is not possible for everyone. Yet everyone should have the right to a good quality of life and medicine.
Finally, we need to encourage advocacy amongst our politicians. When they are not connected to the disease they aren’t active. Politicians need to become better informed about health and see what they can do to change the policy landscape. Greater advocacy efforts are needed to ensure the patient voice is included in political decision-making and therefore increase a patient’s chance to access good quality medicine and devices, and a better quality of life.