The Life for a Child programme was established in 2000 by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) in response to the desperate situation facing many young people with type 1 diabetes in less-resourced countries. Since inception, the programme has been managed by Diabetes NSW in Sydney, Australia.
The idea for the programme came from the then IDF President Maria de Alva, who was appalled that children and young adults were dying because insulin, a therapeutic advancement made 75 years earlier, was not available to them. She asked Professor Martin Silink to establish a programme to help address the issue. Professor Silink and others important to the genesis of the programme held a brainstorming meeting in Sydney in March 2000. The meeting led to the official launch of the programme with a pilot across three countries – the Philippines, Fiji, and Papua New Guinea. Diabetes NSW commenced administration of Life for a Child, with Dr Graham Ogle as the General Manager. HOPE worldwide also provided critical initial support, and Diabetes Australia also became a key donor.
The vision of Life for a Child is that no child should die of diabetes.
Assistance for diabetes centres in India and Bolivia commenced in 2002 and the programme expanded into Africa in 2004. Coverage grew quickly in 2009 when Lilly Diabetes started to support the programme with insulin, and other companies (in particular Trividia Health, LifeScan, and Becton Dickinson) initiated support. Substantial grants from the Fondation de l’Orangerie and the Leona M and Harry B Helmsley Charitable Trust enabled expansion to new countries and the development of education, mentoring, and research initiatives. Generous support from the Helmsley Trust continues to this day, and in 2019 JDRF also become a major donor.
Life for a Child now supports more than 21,000 young people with type 1 and other forms of diabetes in 42 countries. Beyond the support to young people living with diabetes, Life for a Child is recognised globally for its initiatives in advocacy and research.
From 2018, the programme has been fully under the auspices of Diabetes NSW. Life for a Child is extremely grateful to IDF for all of its support. A number of IDF Members are in-country partners and others support the programme in various ways.
Activities and direction are overseen and guided by an International Steering Committee with the administration of the programme provided by Diabetes NSW. The Steering Committee includes representatives from Diabetes NSW, Life for a Child USA Inc., IDF, the International Society for Pediatric and Adolescent Diabetes (ISPAD), and Direct Relief, as well as two international experts carefully selected for their skills and experience.