Ugandan diabetic children cryout for insulin

By Beatrice Nyangoma

Maganda Henry is admitted at Jinja Regional Referral hospital in ward four. He was diagnosed with diabetes type one, six years ago. When you looks at him, you may think that he is between the age of 12 and 15 years.

But Maganda is 21 years. His growth stunted because of diabetes. Everyday, he takes two injections of insulin-adrug used totreat diabetes.

His body also started itching especially at night and he would sweat alot. He says that he increasingly felt thirsty and water became his source of life. After several visits to the local clinics, he lost hope as he was losing weight everyday and yet the clinics could not find the illnesses. He was later admitted at Jinja hospital after being diagnosed with type one diabetes.

He says that staying in school to complete senior six has been a life time experience he will live to remember. Amidst financial challenges, Maganda’s care takers have to part daily testing – 12,000 Glucometer -20,000, Insulin-100,000 per month,Needles-50, 000 per month, Tablets-100,000 per month

This is in addition to 10,000 shillings to monitor his insulin levels from private clinics as his does not own Glucometer machine that costs about 200,000.

Maganda says that he does not wish any other child to experience what he has gone through. He appeals to government to avail insulin and injections and also reduce the price of glucometers.

According to Dr.Thereza Piloya Were, a paediatric Endocrinologist at Makerere School of Medicine with the number of diabetic children increasing over thd years, there is an urgent need for the government to provide insulin.

She notes that in the treatment centers funded by an international organisation Changing Diabetes in Children, Uganda has over 1000 children battling diabetes. The centers are located in the regional referral hospitals of  Mbale, Soroti and Gulu.  

She says that number is very small compared to the number of children who die undiagnosed. She also says that the cost of treating diabetes is very expensive and most families cannot afford it. She notes government needs to intervene and provide treatment.

Piloya describes diabetes as a group of diseases in which the body cannot handle blood sugar leading to its rise which destroys many of the body organs.The vulnerable body organs, he states include the liver, heart, reproductive organs and the placenta in the womb.

She notes children usually patients who are diabetic experience loss of weight, eat a lot, blurred vision, dizzy and low sexual power.

Globally, 415 million people were estimated to be leaving with diabetes in 2015 and this number is expected to increase to 640 million by 2040. In Uganda, the national NCDs study estimates the prevalence of diabetes at 1.3%. This translates to over 500,000 Ugandans living with diabetes.

Unfortunately about 80% of Ugandans living with Diabetes are not aware that they have it. These will present later with difficult to manage complications including blindness, kidney failure, stroke and even impotence. We must therefore up our awareness campaign efforts to prevent suffering and premature death.