Living in Sierra Leone with Type 1 Diabetes

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It is so important that we share the following stories with you to give you a sense of some of the issues that people with type 1 diabetes are facing around the world.

Dr. Veronica Sawicki runs a charity called Help Madina. The main aim of the charity is to improve the health and well-being of the people living in the Madina district of Sierra Leone, which is one of the poorest parts of the world with shocking health statistics.

In 2013, supported by Help Madina, Dr Patrick Turay launched one of the first diabetes facilities in Sierra Leone at the Holy Spirit Hospital in the city of Makeni. They raise awareness about diabetes in the community and provide ongoing training for the medical staff. Currently there are a total of seven children and young people who have type 1 diabetes and attend the Wednesday clinics. They all require insulin and diabetes supplies. The charity does it’s best to provide insulin free of charge with meters and glucose strips.

The videos below are of Mohammed, Abdul, and Maxwell.

Mohammed, in the first video, is 15 and lives with his grandfather. Each morning he comes to the hospital, has a glucose check and insulin, then he is provided with food for the day which is cooked by one of the hospital staff. Veronica says, ‘‘Mohammed is incredibly bright and very well informed about diabetes. Every day, he would sit with me in my office after school and help with our other type 1 patients. He’s a great boy!’’

The other two patients are in their 30s, waiting for treatment at the clinic. As you can see, both are quiet, a bit lethargic and clearly unwell – this makes the audio a bit difficult to hear so you might want to turn up the sound. They describe feeling sick, having tingling sensations in their feet, and not having had insulin in several days.

Thankfully, Help Madina is looking after these people with type 1 diabetes as best they can and is supporting them by educating them more about diabetes. As the clinic grows, more people with type 1 diabetes will likely be identified who will need support with the costs of their insulin and testing supplies.

We look forward to continuing to work with Help Madina in their efforts and we hope to find lasting solutions to the many issues touched on in these interviews.

Share this with a friend to open their eyes to these tragic situations so that we can take action.

Read our full interview with Dr. Veronica Sawicki about her work in Sierra Leone.