Keeping diabetes under control in under-served areas

Binti, a 16 year old in Kenya living with diabetes, with her mother Mariam. (Photo: Corrie Wingate/Amref Health Africa)


Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) like diabetes, asthma and hypertension are on the rise in sub-Saharan Africa. This is taking a huge toll on the continent’s already stretched health systems which have little resources or experience in treating NCDs on such a large scale. The World Health Organization estimates that over the next 10 years, over 28 million people will die from NCDs. This means that NCDs will soon be the leading cause of ill health, disability and premature death.  


That’s why we’re training Community Health Workers (CHWs) to help people in their community manage their asthma, diabetes and hypertension in four areas in Kenya: Nairobi, Nyeri, Kakamega and Kilifi – all of which exhibit high rates of NCDs. 


Binti is sixteen years old and lives in Kilifi County. Binti has diabetes: “I used to feel tired and thirsty all the time. My mother took me to the hospital and they tested me. They told me I have diabetes.”


Mariam, Binti’s mother says, “Binti was seven years old when she was diagnosed. We did our best to manage it, but she was young and lacked knowledge on how. She couldn’t play with her friends in school, and often missed classes due to her condition.” Because of this, Binti dropped out of school.


This all changed when Amina – their neighbor and Community Health Worker – was trained on managing diabetes. Amina was trained using LEAP, a training platform that runs on basic mobile phones so health workers can improve their skills anywhere and at any time (read more about LEAP).


Binti and her family with Amina (third from left) - a community health worker we trained to help her community manage their diabetes and asthma. (Photo: Corrie Wingate/Amref Health Africa)


Binti tells us, “Amina has taught me how food affects my diabetes. She has even taught my mother how to prepare the food, and the right portions I should take to make sure I regulate my blood sugar. I rarely feel sick anymore!”


Because of Amina’s help, Binti has gone back to school. Amina taught Binti to inject herself with insulin when she needs it, “Now she can attend school and I am not worried about who will give her the insulin shots. My friend is healthy and happy. I am happy.


Together with her doctor and mother, we have been mentoring her, so she can still enjoy life, but still take care of what she eats at all times. She has shown great maturity for such a young age and I could not be prouder.”



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