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Personal Stories

T1D Expert, Lucía Feito Allonca on the Importance of Advocacy

With her dual Spanish and Argentine nationality and 31 years of experience living with type 1 diabetes, Lucía Feito Allonca spreads awareness and the necessity of universal healthcare.

T1D Expert, Lucía Feito Allonca on the Importance of Advocacy

Through the dedication, support and activism of countless individuals, progress in the field of diabetes has grown exponentially with research breakthroughs, technological advances and activists working diligently to aid the community. Through her various roles, Lucía Feito Allonca brings about the needed changes.

Type 1 Strong was fortunate to speak with Allonca and discuss her advocacy roots, life with T1D, and finding her diabetes tribe. 

About Lucía Feito Allonca

Beyond her work as a health lawyer, Allonca holds many titles: patient rights specialist, diabetes educator with the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), project manager for her company, Glucomundo and activist for the rights of people living with noncommunicable diseases.

Allonca has worked with DiaVerge Diabetes, where she is a DiaVerge coach and completed ADA Diabetes Management Training for Mental Health Providers. She was a contributing writer/editor at Beyond Type 1 and NCD Diarist, highlighting people living with noncommunicable diseases. Allonca also represents Argentina as a Voice of the Circle of Blue of the IDF, while the NCD Alliance provided her with Global Advocacy Training.

In addition to her law degree, she holds a Patient Expert in Cardio-Metabolic Diseases diploma from the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos in Madrid, Spain. What’s more, she was recently awarded an International Patient Voices Scholarship at the DiabetesMine Innovation Summit.

DiabetesMine Innovation Days

Allonca was among the ten DiabetesMine Patient Voices Scholarship 2023 winners for her diabetes advocacy work in Spain. In 2017, she began writing for Beyond Type 1, which extended to the European countries. As a lawyer, she specializes in patient rights, devoting her life to diabetes awareness.

“It (the convention) was a marvelous experience surrounded by innovation and industry leaders. It was such a unique experience and such an honor. It’s important that people with diabetes interact with stakeholders and industry leaders. So many things were exciting, especially the idea that someday we wouldn’t need an insulin pump; a real artificial working pancreas.”

Allonca said her diabetes has affected every career decision she has ever made. Her latest training is with artificial intelligence, algorithms, and technology for diabetes treatment. Health equity is equally important to her. “Every person living with diabetes should have the right to access technology for a better quality of life.” Allonca is currently working with a team investigating the impact of diabetes in schools, seeing how kids are treated and the staff’s T1D knowledge. “The goal is for kids living with type 1 to be safe at school.”

As a health lawyer, Allonca was recently selected to attend a health financing course on universal health care with the World Health Organization (WHO) Barcelona, a personal and professional achievement. “Everyone needs access to medicines and treatments and not to spend a catastrophic amount of money. For example, in some parts of the world, like India, the cost of diabetes can be up to 80% of someone’s monthly income. So you have to choose between eating, insulin, and test strips, and many people are rationing insulin, and it’s still a matter of health policy. The goal is to create better advocacy and financing measures, policies for all the countries around Europe and worldwide.”

Allonca’s T1D Diagnosis

Allonca, who now lives in Gijón, Spain, spoke about her diagnosis at the age of 10. “I started with syringes and insulin. There weren’t even insulin pens; they came later. Now, it’s like paradise with so much technology—CGMs (continuous glucose monitors) and insulin pumps.”

Since her diagnosis, Allonca has regrettably experienced some retinopathy, a common side effects of the disease. Fortunately, in recent years, she has switched to pump therapy with a CGM to prevent further progression.

“There is a great taboo when speaking about complications surrounding diabetes. I didn’t receive the right diabetes education at the time. It was also really hard for me to accept my diagnosis. I didn’t want to have anything to do with diabetes, and I lacked the family and community support that is so important.”

Human Rights Advocate

It’s much easier to manage diabetes today with all the essential tools, pump therapy, and continuous glucose monitors. Yet, so many don’t have access to these and even struggle to pay for insulin. Allonca lived in Argentina for several years, where not everyone could acquire these resources. “People living with diabetes must be actively involved in the decision-making, policy design, and activity relating to their health.”

Some geographic regions worldwide lack access to insulin treatment, pump therapy, and education. Allonca feels passionate about healthcare and education for all, regardless of your income. “When your diabetes isn’t properly managed, it affects your well-being. Diabetes invades every space in your life. The diabetes community is everything. The peer support, in my opinion, is part of the treatment. I came to terms with my diabetes thanks to the community. It’s so essential to know that you are not alone. The emotional side, making friends, feeling supported by people that really understand, because diabetes is so complex with so many daily struggles.”

Glucomundo

To this end, Allonca founded Glucomundo, an online initiative that covers diabetes information internationally and in Spanish. Her experience with Beyond Type 1 introduced her to the global community.

“I love networking and talking to people. When I left Beyond Type 1, I created my own platform in Spanish to interview people, stay up to date on the latest diabetes news, share other people’s initiatives, and create a community because together we are stronger.”

You can find Glucomundo on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

In a Perfect World

“Health is a human right. We need to strive toward it to live our best lives,” said Allonca. “We need better diabetes education and access to treatment and the latest technology. One size does not fit all.”

When asked what she would tell someone recently diagnosed with type 1 diabetes: “You have a great community here. You’ll find many friends, it’s an adventure, it’s challenging, but you’re not alone. Everything’s going to be okay.”

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