Today I visited the Rwanda Diabetes Association

Today I visited the Rwanda Diabetes Association to meet with its director Crispin Gishoma and one of its two doctors, Arsene Hobabagabo. I can’t get the image of this refrigerator out of my head. Until the year 2004, it was the only place in the country where people could get insulin, Crispin told me.

I met with Crispin and Arsene for a story I plan to write on the University of Global Health Equity in Rwanda. Both men will graduate this week with a Master of Science in Global Health Delivery. The new university, which will enroll its first class of medical students in 2019, is committed to equity – to bringing the highest quality of health care to the poorest people in the world and teaching medical professionals how to meet the unique social and economic needs of their patients. The insulin refrigerator was a stark reminder of the huge hurdles ahead. I know that health disparities exist but its hard to fully grasp the reality until you see an image like this refrigerator, which had to serve as a life line for thousands of patients. It’s also a reminder of all the lives that were likely lost because they lived in rural areas, where insulin was non-existent. Insulin has been used in humans for nearly 100 years. The science of developing medicine should be the hard part – and yet so many decades later people die because they can’t get access to what should be a very basic medical treatment.

– Sarah Karlin-Smith