Background: In order to improve the health of people with Type 1 diabetes in developing countries, a clear analysis of the constraints to insulin access and diabetes care is needed. We developed a Rapid Assessment Protocol for Insulin Access, comprising a series of questionnaires as well as a protocol for the gathering of other data through site visits, discussions, and document reviews.
Methods: The Rapid Assessment Protocol for Insulin Access draws on the principles of Rapid Assessment Protocols which have been developed and implemented in several different areas. This protocol was adapted through a thorough literature review on diabetes, chronic condition management and medicine supply in developing countries. A visit to three countries in sub-Saharan Africa and meetings with different experts in the field of diabetes helped refine the questionnaires. Following the development of the questionnaires these were tested with various people familiar with diabetes and/or healthcare in developing countries. The Protocol was piloted in Mozambique then refined and had two further iterations in Zambia and Mali. Translations of questionnaires were made into local languages when necessary, with back translation to ensure precision.
Results: In each country the protocol was implemented in 3 areas--the capital city, a large urban centre and a predominantly rural area and their respective surroundings. Interviews were carried out by local teams trained on how to use the tool. Data was then collected and entered into a database for analysis.
Conclusion: The Rapid Assessment Protocol for Insulin Access was developed to provide a situational analysis of Type 1 diabetes, in order to make recommendations to the national Ministries of Health and Diabetes Associations. It provided valuable information on patients' access to insulin, syringes, monitoring and care. It was thus able to sketch a picture of the health care system with regards to its ability to care for people with diabetes. In all countries where this tool was used the involvement of local stakeholders resulted in the process acting as a catalyst in bringing diabetes to the attention of the health authorities.