Children with diabetes
The life expectancy for a child with type 1 diabetes in much of sub-Saharan Africa is typically less than one year. A child with the same condition in the developed world has the possibility to live a full life. While access to insulin is generally difficult in poor countries, a Novo Nordisk study in Tanzania showed that many children die in hospitals even where insulin is available. Parents often lack money to pay for transportation to hospitals. Because diabetes shows in children as an acute crisis, they are often misdiagnosed and given the wrong, sometimes fatal, treatment.
In December 2008, Novo Nordisk announced an ambitious five-year project to change the future of these children. The programme, called ‘Changing the Future for Children with Diabetes’, will begin in 2009 with an initial roll-out in Uganda, Tanzania, Guinea-Conakry, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Cameroon. A series of satellite centres will be set up around existing hospitals and clinics where diagnosis, treatment, patient education, patient registration, and healthcare training will take place.
Treatment, including free insulin, will also be provided.
The ultimate goal is for local governments to take over after the five years. It is modeled on an approach begun in 2006, in which children with type 1 diabetes were referred to a Novo Nordisk-funded diabetes clinic in Dar-el-Salaam. A diabetes nurse was assigned to follow up with the children and their families. Today mortality among children with type 1 diabetes at the clinic has decreased dramatically and children are rarely admitted in emergencies.
The programme, which supports the UN goal of reducing child mortality, builds on an approach the company began in Tanzania in 2006. Children with type 1 diabetes are referred to a Novo Nordisk-funded diabetes clinic for specialised care, which has led to dramatically decreased mortality. Emergency admissions have also dropped. Novo Nordisk will replicate this model with the aim of reaching a total of 10,000 children by 2013. It is estimated that some 38,000 African children aged 0–14 have type 1 diabetes.
The programme builds on partnerships with the World Diabetes Foundation and local partners such as national diabetes associations and Ministries of Health.
This programme is the first time Novo Nordisk gives away insulin, except for emergency relief situations.