”If it wasn’t for Life for a Child the story of Type 1 Diabetes in Liberia would only be expressed as mortality rate. Management of diabetes at the individual level is beyond challenging due to pervasive poverty resulting in food scarcity and the inability to purchase insulin” Augustine, our man on the ground in Liberia.
Life for a Child has been supporting children and young people in two centres in Liberia for the last six years with a third centre recently joining the program. Augustine reports;
”Prior to the partnership, there was no systematic way for children with diabetes to obtain routine care for their diabetes, or a regular supply of insulin, syringes and glucometers with test strips. Insulin especially is a scarce commodity in Liberia due to cost.”
Liberia is a country where chronic disease is rarely supported, with the Ebola outbreak being a recent priority for the health facilities. Other challenges include a scarcity of refrigeration and transportation problems. Patients visit the clinic twice a month to collect their insulin, sometimes from as far at two hours away, funding their trips by themselves. Over the years the clinic has managed nineteen patients, between the ages of 6 and 16 years old.
Life for a Child arranged for Dr Julia von Oettingen, a Paediatric Endocrinologist to visit the centre where she is a frequent welcome visitor to guide local diabetes management. Julia (far left) and Augustine (far right) are pictured here with some of the young people supported by the program in Liberia.
This work would not be possible without your generous donations. Support a child with insulin, strips and education for just a dollar a day donate now.
Life for a Child (LFAC) has commenced new work towards sustainability in diabetes care. For LFAC, two key pillars of sustainability include promoting health systems reform and encouraging advocacy.
Being engaged in health systems reform means to research and evaluate the changes/trends within national health systems in the countries that LFAC helps. Doing so helps us understand where the provision of diabetes supplies fits into changes within national health policies. The research in health systems reform involves study into various levels of health systems, including the national, regional and international platforms. Now is an important moment to engage with how national health systems are addressing diabetes care as the international health stage is focused on a) the epidemiological shift from communicable to non-communicable disease, and b) the promotion of universal health coverage and equity in health.
By gaining knowledge through the research done at the health systems reform level, we are better able inform the advocacy through evidence-based and tailor-made approaches for national circumstances. This work is being informed by complementary research being done by LFAC in epidemiology (particularly determining prevalence – the number of existing and projected future cases), and health economics (determining the most cost-effective approach for each country). Evidence-based and targeted advocacy can then be conducted by our country partners and, on a global level, by LFAC.
LFAC’s work in these areas works towards our Vision that “No Child should die of Diabetes”.
View Life for a Child’s Research and Impact page.
You can support this research by making a donation here.
James Ron, one of Life for a Child’s great advocates recently wrote about his son’s diagnosis and why he supports the program:
“When our two-year old son, Sacha, was first diagnosed my wife, Emma and I scrambled to figure out how to get him the help he needed – long and short-acting insulin, syringes, test strips, Glucagon, HbA1Cs, etc. etc. – we wondered, “how do parents in poor countries cope?’
We were blindsided by the disease, but we also benefited from access to a medical hotline staffed by excellent diabetes educators. Our local pharmacy, moreover, was open at all hours, and never lacked for supplies. Although the medicines were expensive, we could make it work. How, we wondered, did this kind of resource-intensive care get delivered to parents and children living in places where the medical infrastructure was limited, where medications were often unavailable, and where refrigeration for insulin was expensive, or even non-existent?
To learn more, I took a trip in 2010 with Life for a Child to a clinic they support in Nagpur, India, accompanied by two of my son’s pediatric endocrinologists from the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario. I learned first-hand how difficult it is for parents who make only a few dollars a day to keep their children with T1D alive. Sure, T1D parents and patients have it difficult in North America. Yet our struggles pale in comparison to those faced by parents living on modest incomes in India, Sudan, Mexico, and the 39 other countries where Life for a Child works.
Since that trip in 2010, my wife and I have done site visits to medical clinics supported by Life for a Child elsewhere in India, Morocco, Rwanda, and Mexico. My wife is a member of the US board, and I help out whenever I can. I can attest, through personal experience, that this is a well-run, bare-bones organization that wastes not a single penny. It partners with pharmaceuticals when it can, but requires the help of many individual donors to survive.
From his office in Sydney, Australia, Life for a Child General Manager and Co-founder Graham Ogle has carefully managed the provision of life-saving medical supplies to over 18,000 children worldwide for over 15 years. He is the most hard-working, trustworthy, and dedicated man I have ever met. Indeed, his peers know that Graham is an amazing guy; in 2013, his life of international service was recognized by the American Diabetes Association.
Please help Graham and his colleagues do all they can to get insulin, syringes, test strips and more to parents around the world. Without our help, these parents will struggle to keep their children alive and in good health.
Recurring monthly donations are particularly important, as they will give Life for a Child the financial stability it needs to plan ahead, assume responsibilities, and keep the support flowing from one part of the global T1D community to another.
The global T1D family is all in the same boat. Some of us, however, have better oars than others; we should help out when we can. Please consider giving a recurring, monthly donation to support a child with insulin, syringes, BG test strips and education materials. You can donate here.’’
James Ron, Harold Stassen Chair of International Affairs, University of Minnesota
I live in Chimaltenango in Guatemala and I am 16 years old.Eight years ago I started to lose weight, I was very thirsty and urinated very often.
My parents were very worried so they took me to the local hospital where I had tests and I was told I had type 1 diabetes. There was no specialist so I was transferred to the Roosevelt hospital.
My mother had diabetes too, and when we were told the cost of insulin and supplies we didn’t know how we would be able to afford supplies for us both.
The doctor told us about the local diabetes association, and we were immediately given test strips, glucometers, syringes and insulin, together with a book to understand diabetes that was a great help for me and my family.
I have received so much help from the diabetes team and the association since being diagnosed. We still face an uncertain future as my mother has chronic renal failure and my father is very unwell.
However, I have brothers and sisters who look out for me, and I take responsibility for my diabetes. I see many small children being diagnosed and I want to help them and teach them how to look after themselves as I do.
You can help families like Mildred’s navigate their way from diagnosis to management by donating just a dollar a day to provide insulin, supplies and diabetes education. You can make a tax deductible donation here.
Thank You to the Diabetes Online Community!
Over $22,000 was raised by Spare a Rose during 2017, enabling Life for a Child to support 369 young people with the insulin, tools and education they need to manage their diabetes.
Our Education Director, Angie recently visited Colombo in Sri Lanka to see your donations in action. Watch the video above and see the difference support from Life for a Child has made in the life of Nuzaira. Her family could not afford the insulin or supplies she needed but with help from Life for a Child she is now doing really well, working as a nursery teacher and has a little girl of her own.
‘’There were heartbreaking moments along with heart-warming ones.’’ Angie said about her visit.
‘’One of the toughest moments was meeting Amila, a 22-year-old young woman who was diagnosed with T1 when she was 12 years old. She is dealing with multiple complications, and the devastation on her mother’s face was heartbreaking.’’
Life for a Child is working with the National Diabetes Centre to support Amila and her mother. We are striving to equip the next generation with the insulin, education and tools they need to live long and healthy lives.
‘’We also visited 19 year old Sandramina at her uncle’s apartment. She was diagnosed at the age of 11 and struggles with the constancy of diabetes management and her consistently high blood glucose levels. She relies on her family to give her injections and was very reluctant to move from a twice daily insulin regimen to four injections a day.’’
Angie encouraged Sandramina to start giving her own injections to help increase her independence. She also suggested Sandramina chat with other teenagers at the activity day, to learn how her peers approach their management, in the hope of helping to reduce her feelings of isolation, empowering her to move forward and face a positive future.
Your donations make this possible.
There are still many children that need our support to manage their diabetes. For just $1 per day you can support a child with full care – a blood glucose meter and test strips, insulin and education. Make your pledge today.
Last but not least……
The Life for a Child team would like to say thank you to the superstars who come together every year to make the Spare a Rose campaign happen. Kerri, Manny, Mike, Bennet, Jeff, Kelly, Ava, Renza and Grumps – thank you so much.
It was a sticky, humid day in Colombo, Sri Lanka when I met Kassun.
I was visiting the Sri Lankan Diabetes Association to meet young people supported by the program and the health professionals caring for them. The association had arranged for me to see the kids with the biggest challenges, none with HbA1c below 11.5%.
One of the first patients I saw was Kassun, he was diagnosed with type 1 at 6 years of age. He was a really bright young man, full of hopes, dreams and smiles but is struggling with the challenge of managing his diabetes. He has been admitted to hospital with severe hypos and in DKA many times.
Kassun doesn’t receive any financial support from his family and, as he struggles to find regular work, wouldn’t be able to afford his insulin and test strips if it wasn’t for Life for a Child. Thanks to your donations we are now able to help Kassun with his management, ensuring that he has access to a regular supply of insulin, education and support through the diabetes centre.
Kassun now thinks of the centre as his home away from home, and obviously feels very comfortable there. He would travel through the night on a bus from miles away, just to come to clinic and did so these on two consecutive days while we were there.
Team games and dancing
On the third day of my visit we held an activity day at the centre for sixty-six young people aged between 6 and 26 years old. At the beginning of the day the girls sat to one side of the room and the boys opposite to them – everyone was very quiet and no one mingled at all.
However, after a packed day of talks, small informal group discussions, team-building games and a parent Q& A session, things changed. Everyone was singing and dancing, laughing, chatting and having fun. This was so heart-warming to see and demonstrates the power of peer support. Kassun attended the activity day, and as one of the oldest in the group, he was always running around, generally helping and looking after everybody.
During my visit to the centre I also had the opportunity to visit the home of two sisters, Nuzaira and Nazara who have been supported by the program and are now doing really well. Nuzaira was diagnosed age 10, is a teacher and has a 6 year old daughter. She was very happy to chat to us and share her experiences of living with diabetes, she told us she once fainted in front of her class with a hypo – luckily the headmistress knew what to do to help her. The sisters and their mother made us feel very welcome and were so grateful for the support your donations provide.
For me, the visit really reinforced the importance of the support we give to these children in this wonderful but under-resourced country. Not only are we saving lives with the insulin we provide, we are making it possible for these young people to lead normal lives and follow their dreams to become teachers, carpenters, parents and doctors. Thank you.
At age four, Yasir was rushed to hospital in Karachi, Pakistan where doctors realized he was in Diabetic Ketoacidosis. He was diagnosed with type 1 and, for the next few days stayed in hospital with his parents.
Yasir comes from a poor family and lives in Karachi along with his parents and four brothers and sisters. His father is a laborer and his mother has her own business selling home-made snacks. Because of their low income and the high cost of diabetes supplies his family simply don’t have enough money to buy the insulin and tools Yasir needs to stay alive.
Your donations allow us to support Yasir by providing the basics he needs to manage his diabetes. This includes his twice daily regimen of short and long-acting insulin and the strips he receives when he attends clinic every month.
Yasir and his family get very frustrated with his diabetes and say that they ‘wish it would go away’. He attends school regularly and is in the expected grade for his age, although, he is shorter than his friends which makes him feel different. However, they realise that Yasir must take his insulin and monitor his blood glucose level to stay healthy.
Life for a Child’s Education Director, Angie first met Yasir in 2015 when she visited the National Institute for Children’s Hospital in Karachi, Pakistan. We are pleased to report that, two years later Yasir is doing well and these photos show him at his most recent clinic visit. He does, however, have persistently high blood glucose levels, and is undergoing testing for Coeliac Disease.
Yasir’s story is full of hope and is only made possible by donations from people like you.
Can you donate $30 to support a child like Yasir? click here.
”I thought that I may have been refused as I have type 1 diabetes..”
Estephany is a young girl supported by the program in Guatemala. She wanted to share her story to encourage younger children living with diabetes:
”My name is Estephany and I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in June, 2009.
At the time I was studying 5th grade at school. My teachers and classmates were all worried about me as I was absent from school and supported me following my diagnosis.
Throughout high school I never faced discrimination and was able to attend school camp with my friends. Everyone, including my friends were very encouraging and thought I was brave injecting myself and regularly testing my blood glucose level.
When I decided to study nursing I thought that I may have been refused as I have type 1 diabetes, however, this was not a problem, and I am enjoying the course.
I am so thankful to have all these excellent people to help, including my diabetes team.
I can do anything!”
Support from people like you has helped brighten the world of Estephany, there are many more young people that still need our help, join us and donate Now.
Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA) occurs when there is profound insulin deficiency. It frequently occurs at diagnosis, and also in children and young people with diabetes, if insulin is omitted, or if insufficient insulin is given at times of acute illness.
It is quite likely that some children and youth in developing countries, presenting for the first time in DKA, die undiagnosed. The symptoms they present with may be diagnosed as more common illnesses such as pneumonia, gastroenteritis, malaria or typhoid. Even when the correct diagnosis is made, it is sometimes too late, and the young person can die or suffer permanent damage.
To combat this the Life for a Child Program developed a poster campaign, depicting symptoms of DKA, to alert health professionals and help them to make a swift diagnosis and provide appropriate treatment to save lives – championing the vision that no child should die of diabetes. Health professionals are the key target audience for this campaign with posters put up in common areas such as hospitals and community centres.
One of these posters is in Twi and Dagbanli, local languages of Ghana, who also participated in this campaign. The importance of the message is illustrated by this comment from a doctor in Kumasi, Ghana: “Several of these children with diabetes are dying unrecognized. It is only education to create awareness that will save many of these children.”
Dr Graham Ogle recently visited a centre we support in Haiti, where we have been providing support for young people with diabetes since 2010. Below are some of the diabetes education materials depicting symptoms of diabetes, hypoglycaemia and others in the local languages, Creole and French.
You can see all 28 posters developed by LFAC since 2012 here: www.idf.org/lifeforachild/education-resources/dka-awareness
Help us increase awareness of DKA by making a donation today.
Our colleague, Aracely Basurto, from FUVIDA diabetes center in Guayaquil, Ecuador, was contacted via Facebook by a young girl called Darlenis, seeking advice. Darlenis is the only young person with T1D on San Cristobal Island, in the Galapagos Archipelago, so has very little support regarding her diabetes management.
There are no specialist doctors which means that Darlenis must travel to Guayaquil in Ecuador for annual appointments. This is very expensive for the family.
Aracely says “Darlenis does not have test strips for glucose control, so every morning, noon and night she has to walk four blocks to the health center to check her blood glucose, returns home, and injects her insulin, prescribed by the doctor.”
These doses of insulin are fixed, and can only be changed by the doctor, so she must take the same dose which allows no flexibility for what she eats and the exercise she does.
On one occasion, Darlenis woke up feeling ill. Her father took her to the Health Centre, however, they had no test strips. Darlenis went home and drank some juice but felt no better so they had to travel to another island, Santa Cruz, two hours away.
There was some delay at the health center because a doctor had to order the blood glucose to be checked. By this time Darlenis’s father was frantic. Eventually she was allowed to check her blood glucose. A severe hypo was thankfully avoided.
This illustrates how the complex Darlenis’s situation is and the difficulties she and her family face.
The staff at FUVIDA have provided testing equipment from Life for a Child, and have taught Darlenis and her family food label reading so that she can adjust her insulin according to what she eats and her exercise. Acracely: “She learned that by making a proper count she can eat the food she wants and so far had been told
that it was forbidden.”
Aracely adds: ‘There are many cases like Darlenis. Children are exposed to a health system that does not accept them responsibly, and unfortunately, with this poor control, life is shortened and the chances of survival are reduced by half.’