Andrew Mutua is a seven-year-old boy in Machakos County who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of two.
His mother, Josephine, was devastated after the diagnosis since the family had no history of diabetes.
She says the boy begun showing signs of frequent thirst, was frequently urinating, had body weakness and was easily irritable.
“The initial visits to the hospital did not reveal anything serious but when we went for a third check-up in a different hospital, the boy was diagnosed with diabetes,” she says.
They were immediately put on medication and diet, and he has been improving for the last five years.
‘Sometimes in school when I begin feeling unwell, I start crying but then I realise I’m feeling bad because my sugar levels are unstable so I run and tell the teacher who allows me to eat and I feel much better,” says Mutua.
He has been carrying in his bag a sugar-level monitor that he checks now and then, something that has helped his family and teachers manage his condition.
“Diabetes is not a disease; it is a condition that one can live with if you follow the doctor’s directives. If he tells you not to eat sweets or other sugary foods, then you should not do so because if you do, you will always be feeling sick,” says the brave boy.
According to World Health Organisation (WHO), Type 1 diabetes (previously known as insulin-dependent, juvenile or childhood-onset) is characterised by deficient insulin production and requires daily administration of insulin.
Dr Mohammed Ezzi explains that diabetes in children is a common condition where a person’s body is fighting and killing the cells that produce insulin in the body
This is the reason why diabetes is not easily preventable and why all the children who have been diagnosed with it are usually put on insulin injections as their response level to the tablets is slow.
Type 1 diabetes is the most common in children which could be caused by genetics, family history, and certain viruses. Doctors advise for regular check-ups, exercises and a healthy diet.
“If a family has a strong history of children with diabetes or older people with diabetes, then they should regularly monitor and look out for diabetes in their children also,” says Dr Ezzi.
He explains that although it is not a disease that is frequently diagnosed, it shows up from the ages of five to 15 although some may get diagnosed with it as early as two years, just like Mutua.
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Children who get the right medication and follow the doctor’s prescription and advice to control blood sugar and pressure can live a long and normal life.
WHO recommends easier access to treatment and insulin for people with diabetes, with the main aim of halting the rise of the disease by 2025.