May 16, 2012
Question from Salt Lake City, Utah, USA:
I am a 22-year-old male who has had type 1 diabetes for 17 years. Next summer, I am hoping to go to the Democratic Republic of Congo. I am wondering the typical traveling questions: how difficult is it to get insulin; how much does it cost? I have never traveled outside the U.S. for longer than a week so I do not know all the information or questions I would need to ask. I take NovoLog and Lantus. I am planning on taking pens with me for ease of use and less likelihood of damage. Even though I have had it for 17 years, I don’t know exactly how to care for insulin in hot, humid climates. As I said, any and all other information is welcomed and needed!
If you will travel with pens, then you should not have any problems. Keep all your insulin with you and you can use a simple cooler pack that will maintain the temperature while traveling and also even while you are staying in Africa. In a small insulin carry-bag, this will work quite nicely. The Democratic Republic of Congo will have pharmacies that have insulin but guaranteeing that they are stored correctly, available and not outrageously priced is more difficult. If you go outside of the main city areas, then this will get even more complicated. The same goes for strips, batteries and glucagon. It is always easier for you to keep your own supplies.
It is equally important to make sure that you have all your immunizations up-to-date: polio, hepatitis, tetanus. You’ll likely need malaria prophylaxis either once-a-week or daily depending upon which medication your physician chooses for you. You should check on the Health Information for Travelers to Democratic Republic of the Congo page for up-to-date recommendations.
Enjoy your travels.
See the Frio Pack at our page on Carrying Cases.
You should also try to have two carry on bags containing your diabetes supplies, which should be twice the amount you would anticipate needing. If one bag is stolen or lost, you will still have the other. You should make sure you have adequate emergency food for at least the first few weeks and anti-diarrhea medication should you have issues with the local food/water.