14 November - World Diabetic Day

healthcare disease diabetes World Diabetes Day
Thursday, 14 November, 2013 - 11:07

Poverty, access to healthcare facilities and lack of proper nutrition, among others, are some of the challenges to remember as we commemorate the World Diabetes Day

As we commemorate World Diabetes day (14 November 2013), have you ever considered what happens to a child who is a diabetic and comes from a poverty-stricken home?
 
Well, the consequences can be so dire that the child can end up in a coma, suffer irreparable brain damage or even die.
 
This is what can happen if the parent or caregiver is unable to give the insulin, provide regular food, or is incapable of accurately testing the child’s blood sugar levels. Added to these problems is the cost of transport for regular check-ups at hospital. It becomes even more complicated when there is parental denial of the child’s condition or when the primary caregiver is illiterate or a substance abuser.
 
Here at St Joseph’s Home we currently have approximately 20 diabetic children. Our youngest child is two years old and our oldest is 18 years old. The children are cared for at the Intermediate Care facility at St Josephs as their condition cannot be managed at home for reasons already mentioned.
 
All our younger diabetics are managed by the nursing staff in the home while the teenagers are taught to test their blood sugar levels and inject themselves with insulin under the supervision of a registered nurse. By the time the older children leave the Home they are able to monitor their blood sugar levels and correct any imbalances. This is done by administering insulin or glucose.
 
They are trained to take care of the nursing management of their disease. However, this only partly addresses the problem. They still have a need for regular and healthy meals once at home. Unfortunately, when the home is poverty-stricken this does not happen, and can result in readmissions and even death.
 
Their sustained well-being remains a challenge for us as it is beyond our control once they are discharged. We do refer all discharged diabetics to home-based carers in the community as well as referring those from poor social circumstances to the Department of Social Development to access the grant system so as to alleviate their poverty.
 
Despite this, our diabetic children remain at risk once back home. Diabetes is a severe condition that requires complex management. Our chronically ill children deserve the best care they can get! We believe that St Joseph’s Home goes a long way in providing this care to this vulnerable group of children.
 
-  Thea Patterson is a director at St Joseph’s Home.

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