Tackling diabetes at grassroots level in Uganda
By Rose Lule, Uganda Platform for Diabetics
IAPO member, Uganda Platform for Diabetics (UPLAD), has been developing innovative ways to tackle diabetes in community settings. By starting and running ‘Diabetic Camps’ in different locations across Uganda, UPLAD has managed to screen, diagnose and educate many people through one day events.
From January to April 2016, UPLAD screened 1,661 people, diagnosed 51 people with diabetes and supported 99 previously-diagnosed people.
In providing local communities with free blood sugar tests, blood pressure tests and other services such as eye check-ups for retinopathy, the camps have managed to diagnose people with diabetes at a much earlier stage than before. Many of the people diagnosed through these camps were previously unaware that they were diabetic.
The impact of these targeted events is clear. At the most recent camp, held in the school playground of a community based on the outskirts of Uganda’s capital Kampala, 385 people were tested for diabetes in one day. Of these, almost 20 people were diagnosed with diabetes, whilst four cases of neuropathy and two cases of retinopathy – complications closely associated with diabetes - were found.
By continuing to provide locally-based and immediate diagnosis services to communities throughout Uganda, UPLAD will be able to help patients get the information and support they need. Funding continues to be a challenge for the ‘Diabetic Camps’ and so UPLAD is looking for new funders and sponsors so that they can continue their work.
Managing diabetes, particularly for those who are newly diagnosed, can be extremely challenging without the right level of support. It can leave people feeling lonely, lost, scared and confused. UPLAD frequently meets people who do not feel in control of their diabetes, and many of whom face devastating complications associated with the disease. Through the ‘Diabetic Camps’, UPLAD educates people about how to manage the disease. With information, support and good self-management, people with diabetes can lead normal, healthy lives.