Diabetes Blog Week
Note: I would have addressed this petition to governments with a form of national health system, but since I don’t know other governments, I am limiting my petition to the Japanese government.
Dear Japanese government,
I have type 2 diabetes. I regularly visit my endocrinologist for my A1c and other tests to make sure that I am on top of my diabetes and not developing any complication. I do not inject insulin, and control my diabetes through diet, exercise and oral medication. I also am a believer in self-testing my blood glucose, a belief which the Japanese government’s policy makers apparently do not share. I am writing this petition to change the government’s approach to self-testing.
First, let’s talk about what the national health system subsidizes, or rather does not subsidize. It covers my tests but not my OneTouch test strips because I am not on insulin. Just because I do not use insulin does not mean I do not test or do not need to test. The benefits of self-testing do not apply just to diabetics who use insulin, but to all diabetics who want to control their diabetes. How can a diabetic know what effect food, drinks, exercise and other factors have on his BG if he is not allowed to test? If diabetics test regularly, they know where they stand and can consciously and actively reduce complications, which results in a healthy population and cuts on health and medical costs. Isn’t this what we all want?
But even if I were on insulin, there is a limit to the test strips subsidized. My neighbor who is a T2D on insulin has to limit his daily BG tests to the number of subsidized strips, and basically has to wing his BG and insulin shots for most of the day.
Second, why doesn’t the government allow more brands and models of blood testing instruments in Japan? I’ve been using a OneTouch UltraMini, which is small and handy for me to use, for the past few years, but it is not available in Japan. By allowing more brands and models, the prices of these instruments, especially the strips, will go down. One Touch Ultra test strips, which come in boxes of 30 strips (why not 50 strips, as in other countries? I don’t know), are pricey. But it’s not just this brand of strips, the other strips (for whatever meters are available) are not cheap either. I thought of changing my brand of testing meter, but the pharmacist I spoke to agreed with me that it wasn’t worth it.
Concerned diabetics are forced to either skip regular testing of their BGs, which is not good for their health and the bottom line of the national health system, or find other sources of cheap test strips which are available outside Japan, which does not translate to business in Japan.
Third, because self-testing is expensive in Japan, self-testing is not an integral part of diabetes treatment and management. This situation is far from ideal for any diabetic.
For these reasons, I am petitioning the government to:
- recognize self-testing as an important tool in treating, managing and controlling diabetes;
- subsidize the costs of test kits and strips for diabetics who do not inject to the extent necessary for them to control their diabetes; and
- liberalize the entry and sale of testing products and strips into Japan.
Running Without Sugar