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Recognising diabetes educators now: a roadmap for decision-makers

Training healthcare professionals to impart culturally appropriate, practical knowledge to people living with diabetes is key to addressing diabetes in low- and middle-income countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Diabetes self-management education allow people with diabetes to manage their conditions in the community outside of a medical environment. This white paper describes pathways for the development of diabetes educators as a cost-effective, targeted intervention that is likely to yield the most results in reducing the burden of diabetes in Africa.

Conducting a remote diabetes consultation in Africa: a how-to guide

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a tremendous impact on mindset and practices for healthcare professionals. In many respects, it has accelerated the transition to a more flexible provision of healthcare, particularly in Africa, where access to basic and specialised healthcare remains a challenge. Telemedicine is an effective tool that can be used to expand the reach and most importantly improve the quality of healthcare in Africa in these challenging times. However, conducting a diabetes consultation remotely requires specific skills and knowledge, as it is in many respects more challenging than a face-to-face consultation. Upskilling healthcare professionals to ensure that they are adapting their practice appropriately is key to improving health access with telemedicine.

And also

Most people have never heard of Ketosis Prone Diabetes: Here is what you need to know

Clinicians once assumed that diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) only occurred in Type 1 diabetes. So when middle-aged, high-body-weight people of African and Caribbean origin presented with DKA, they were diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes even though they didn’t fit the age or weight category: they were older and more overweight than expected. We now know that Ketosis-prone or Flatbush diabetes, an atypical form of diabetes, should have been the diagnosis. But what does it refer to exactly?

Our youngest patient was 10 years old: the new face of the diabetes epidemic

When it comes to diabetes, healthcare professionals could assume until recently that early teenagers presenting with high blood glucose levels were suffering from Type-1 diabetes, an auto-immune form of the disease. As a matter of fact, Type 2 diabetes was so rare among children that it used to be called adult-onset diabetes. Not anymore. African and Caribbean communities are at the forefront of a worrying trend: children being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.

Cultural competence in diabetes management: why is it important?

Our culture influences our beliefs and world view, which influences our relationships. And nowhere are relationships more important than in the management of chronic diseases, where a network of people interact daily to improve the health of the person living with the disease. Successful diabetes care relies on a positive and trusting relationship between a patient and their care team. There is, however, no doubt that forming relationships with people different from us can be a challenge, especially when we don’t have a good understanding of their background. In an increasingly culturally diverse world, where everyone needs to access effective healthcare, how do we ensure that we interact respectfully? or knowledgeably? — with people whose norms may differ from ours? The answer: by being culturally competent.

Pioneering low-carb diets to reverse type 2 diabetes in Africa

"Is type 2 diabetes curable?" is often the first question that newly diagnosed people ask their physician. "No" is a common answer given by healthcare professionals, who have been trained to recognise type 2 diabetes as a chronic condition that can only be managed, in the hope of avoiding serious complications over the course of a lifetime. There is, however, a growing body of evidence to suggest that, with the right lifestyle changes, the progression of type 2 diabetes can be slowed down, and even reversed. Over the last decade, physicians have learnt to adopt a more nuanced approach to diabetes, and training programmes have been created to help people living with diabetes and healthcare professionals navigate this new reality safely. Some of these programmes have taken place in Africa and with people of African origin.

In Kinshasa, during the pandemic, the message is clear: “get tested for diabetes”

Since September 2020, an exceptional campaign is underway in the Democratic Republic of Congo to screen the population of the capital city Kinshasa for diabetes and hypertension. The objective? To limit the impact of COVID-19 on the population. Without appropriate management, diabetes and hypertension can lead to serious complications, particularly for those affected by COVID-19. Supported by the World Health Organisation and UNICEF, and organised in coordination with the Ministry of Public Health, this campaign is taking place in 10 health centres and institutions across the city. Diabetes Africa met with the patients and professionals in Kinshasa to hear their experience and help enhance the message of this campaign: an early diagnosis of diabetes or hypertension followed with education and care can save lives.

Tackling non-communicable diseases after a devastating year

How do you care for non-communicable diseases in a pandemic? We met with Prof. Jean-Marie Dangou, head of the programme for non-communicable diseases at WHO Africa to reflect on an unprecedent year and the outlook for 2021. We talked about humility, public health strategies, research and innovation, universal health coverage and the fight against diabetes.

University of Abuja partners with Diabetes Africa on diabetes education

The University of Abuja (Nigeria) has entered into a partnership with Diabetes Africa to share knowledge and support the development of an academic degree on diabetes education, marking a first in the region. The partners signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on 8 January 2021 on the occasion of a virtual ceremony that brought together senior executives and advisers to both parties.

Nigeria has less than 200 endocrinologists. Here is a way to bridge this gap.

In the wake of the disruption across sectors caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, there is an opportunity to use technology to improve on existing processes and better manage chronic diseases in Nigeria, especially for chronic diseases such as diabetes mellitus. Dr. Michael A. Olamoyegun from Ladoke Akintola University of Technology Teaching Hospital writes that telemedicine can play a vital role to help keep track of records and interact with patients without putting them at risk of catching the COVID-19 virus.

An easy solution to pick up diabetes medicine during the pandemic

People with diabetes who are shielding from social contacts have struggled to access their medicine during the pandemic. In collaboration with a diabetes patient group in South Africa and Diabetes South Africa, Diabetes Africa led an initiative to create a medicine collection form for third parties. The important thing was to ensure buy-in from the pharmacies by providing sufficient guarantees to verify the identity of the patient and document the patient’s consent to have someone pick up their medicines on their behalf. Read more to find out how Diabetes Africa worked with Luleka Mzuzu to create the form and accompanying guidance note.

Larry Distiller: COVID-19 is shaking up diabetes education

For the first time in 22 years and because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the annual forum of the Centre for Diabetes and Endocrinology (South Africa) will be online. To bring knowledge and discussions to hundreds of healthcare professionals from across Africa, the CDE is adopting a new format, adapted to COVID-19 restrictions. Dr Larry Distiller, the founder of the centre, talks about the challenges and opportunities brought about by the pandemic, and reviews the programme of the event with us.

Telemedicine in Nigeria: a simple solution for people with diabetes?

Despite the multiplication of telemedicine applications and services and the appetite of investors for a potentially huge market, telehealth and remote consultations in Nigeria are in their infancy: a lot remains to be done to structure, popularise and effectively practice telemedicine.

COVID-19 has acted as an accelerator and many hospitals are in the process of setting up dedicated telemedicine units. But physicians and specialists did not wait. Since the beginning of the pandemic, many have taken on themselves to reach out to patients by phone, messages and -more rarely- video calls, often providing a lifeline to those affected by chronic diseases. However, healthcare professionals are keen to emphasize that not everything can be done remotely, and patients can miss important signs of complications.

During an event organised by Diabetes Africa, participants discussed telemedicine in Nigeria, its potential and its limitations when caring for people with diabetes. There is a case to better document and develop guidance for healthcare professionals, not all of whom are experts in diabetes. Or in telemedicine.

Five elements to set up a successful diabetes clinic

Two leading private diabetes care institutions in Africa met virtually to share their stories and discuss multidisciplinary diabetes care models across the continent: the Lions Diabetes Care Centre of MP Shah Hospital in Nairobi, Kenya and the Centre for Diabetes and Endocrinology (CDE) in Johannesburg, South Africa. Some fifty-eight healthcare professionals, medical and pharmaceutical business executives joined in the live discussion on 4th June. Their objective? To identify the key elements that a private healthcare provider should consider before establishing a diabetes clinic. This event was part of Diabetes Africa’s ‘Active Conversations’ series, examining diabetes care in a changing world.

Rethinking Podiatry of Africa: when amputations are not inevitable

Rethinking podiatry care in Africa

Healthcare professionals and business executives joined a spirited discussion last Thursday to tackle an ambitious topic: ‘Rethinking podiatry care in Africa’. Led by a podiatrist, an endocrinologist, and the head of the only academic podiatry department in Africa, the conversation addressed topics such as perceptions of the profession, multidisciplinary care and education. Over a hundred participants joined in the live discussion, which was part of Diabetes Africa’s ‘Active Conversations’ series, examining diabetes care in a changing world.