Youngsters struggling with diabetes in the face of broken health systems depend on wellwishers
SEE ALSO :I don’t let diabetes control my lifeHealth group Joining a diabetic health group, Baringo South Diabetes Organisation, that ensures they attend clinics every Tuesday at Marigat sub-county hospital has helped most of the learners cope. Marion Wendot’s story is somehow different. Marion, 18, was diagnosed with diabetes in 2016. She was then in Form Three at Kesub Girl’s. She had to leave and join a day school where she could easily access medication, manage her diet as well as keep up with her studies. “I did not understand why I had diabetes. I participated in athletics and advocated for healthy eating habits. When the news was broken to me, I was devastated,” said Marion. She eventually came to terms with her condition and is sitting her Form Four national examination at Marigat Secondary School. “Most schools do not cater for students with special diets. They also lack fridges where one can store drugs. Accessing drugs and syringes is a major challenge. For Marion, her daily routine dictates she wakes up by 4am to prepare to go to Marigat hospital where she keeps her insulin drugs. After getting her jab, she then heads to school where she has to report by 7am for classes. During lunch time, she walks back home where she takes her meals before heading back for afternoon classes. Besides insulin drugs that cost Sh ,200 a month, she also spends Sh30 a day on needles. Fifteen-year-old Winnie Jepchirchir’s case is also different - she gets admitted five to six times a year for constant lack of drugs. The Form One student at St Patrick Shimoni in Eldama Ravine has type 1 diabetes and has lost a sibling to diabetes. Her 23-year-old brother is also diabetic, and also has challenges accessing drugs. Lack of modern medical equipment and access to drugs has been a major challenge to patients from the region. As a result 87 diabetic patients from Marigat, among them Abdi, Vivian and Marion, came together under the umbrella of Baringo South Diabetes Organisation to encourage each other on how to manage the disease. Source of solace The founder, Prisca Chemobo, said she formed the group following high cases of individuals who suffered from the disease with no one taking care of them. “This group is a source of our solace. Here, we encourage each other, share challenges we face and through it, we have overcome stigma,” said Ms Chemobo. However, in the neighbouring Nakuru County, the government has partnered with a medical sponsor to offer services and drugs to patients at subsidised prices. The partnership with Novo Nordisk will see diabetic patients access quality medication and management of the disease. Medical sponsor Under the programme, individuals below the age of 21 will receive blood-glucometer and insulin, and also go for regular checkups frre of charge. Those above 21 years can access insulin at Sh200, down from Sh1,500 at the Diabetic Centre of Excellence situated at Nakuru Level Five Hospital. Novo Nordisk, a medical sponsor company, established the centre in 2016. The centre, established at a cost of Sh10 million, has computersed equipment for checking sugar levels and pressure. According to Novo Nordisk project manager Dorothy Owegi, access to insulin has been a major challenge to patients in the country because of financial constraints. “We need people to access quality care on time, more so children,” said Ms Owegi.
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