Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) is a condition for which a well-structured, holistic, healthcare system can endow those afflicted with long, healthy and productive lives. In Africa, however, many countries are unable to provide basic healthcare services for citizens living with T1D.
Children from low income households are the most vulnerable. Mortality is still very high due to several factors such as lack of awareness, insulin insecurity, and the hefty cost of treatment. Many die undiagnosed and worse still, diagnosis does not ensure survival. Stigma towards those afflicted is all too common. It is not uncommon for children diagnosed with T1D to be disowned by their parents and left to die. Some are removed from school since the hard logic of poverty is that it would be a waste of family resources to educate a child with a presumed low life expectancy. Yet still, children that do grow into adulthood are often burdened with complications due to poor glycemic control.
Successful management of T1D requires access to insulin and other relevant medical supplies; vigilant monitoring of glycemic levels; and access to a multidisciplinary team that not only includes medical doctors but also other essential personnel such as dietitians and psychologists – onerous demands for already overburdened healthcare systems in Africa. As such, other partners and actors are needed to improve the T1D healthcare system across the continent.