Malian children in focus

Fundraiser will improve the lives of young West Africans with type 1 diabetes.

15 September 2014 Gwendolyn Carleton

A child with type 1 diabetes is examined at the national hospital in Bamako. Photo: Santé Diabéte

There’s something new at the 50th annual meeting of the EASD in Vienna, Austria: a chance for delegates to make a difference in the lives of children with type 1 diabetes in Mali.

A fundraiser supporting a new WDF project will take place at this week’s European Association for the Study of Diabetes conference. The project will improve healthcare and quality of life for Malian children with type 1 diabetes by:

• Adapting and creating specific tools for type 1 diabetes education
• Conducting camps for children and adolescents with type 1 diabetes and their parents
• Creating seminars for parents who have a small child with type 1 diabetes
• Raising awareness among teachers who educate children with type 1 diabetes, and
• Renovating a section of the national hospital in Bamako, Mali, that shall host consultations and education of children with type 1 diabetes

This project is supported by WDF, and will be implemented by the French NGO Santé Diabète, in close collaboration with the endocrinology and diabetology service in Mali’s national hospital and the National Federation of Diabetic Patients of Mali. The project is currently in the planning phase, with work beginning in 2015.

To participate, EASD delegates can visit the Novo Nordisk booth and complete ‘The educational challenge’, a short quiz. The company will donate 2 euros to the fundraiser for each challenge completed.

Dramatic changes

In 2004, the situation for people with diabetes in Mali was alarming. Type 2 diabetes was the leading cause of dialysis, amputation and blindness in the country. Type 1 had a very poor prognosis: 95% of type 1 diabetic children died in less than one year after diagnosis.

Between 2004 and 2009, a series of projects supported by the WDF and implemented by Santé Diabète improved the situation dramatically. Knowledge about diabetes, its risk factors and complications have improved; the country’s 18 diabetes associations helped move diabetes up on the national agenda; thousands of doctors, nurses, paramedics and other healthcare professionals were trained.

As for the children, the number living with type 1 increased from 10 to 250. These children, and others diagnosed in the future, will benefit from the new project.

“I believe we have a specific obligation to help children with type 1 diabetes,” says Anders Dejgaard, managing director of the World Diabetes Foundation. “It is an extremely vulnerable population that has received too little help for too long.”

“Santé Diabète has a long history and long-term presence in West Africa, and they’ve gained in-depth knowledge about the infrastructure and needs of the existing healthcare system,” he adds. “They have the experience needed to set up successful projects in this specific region - they have shown significant results not only in type 1, but also type 2.” 

If donations surpass the goal of 55,000 Euros, then the project will expand, allowing the WDF and its partners to offer extra camps, more training, and other much-needed services for the children with type 1 diabetes.

“Whatever contribution we receive will have a huge effect,” Anders Dejgaard says. 

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