Free insulin supply for needy children

Friday June 14 2013

A diabetes clinic.

Photo/FILE A diabetes clinic. KNH deputy director Simeon Monda said only children from needy families qualify to get the free medication. 

By LILLIAN ONYANGO [email protected] and ALUGO STACEY [email protected]

Needy diabetic children can now get free insulin supply from the Kenyatta National Hospital.

The hospital, which sees about 200 children with the disease every year, will also train parents on how to administer the injection.

While making the announcement on Friday, KNH deputy director Simeon Monda called on parents to register their children under the age of 23 with the hospital.

He said only children from needy families qualify to get the free medication.

“The hospital has noted with concern that several diabetic patients are being re-admitted due to lack of insulin,” Dr Monda said during a press briefing at the hospital in Nairobi.

Type 1 diabetes mostly affects children

The insulin injection used to control blood sugar in people who have type 1 diabetes, which mostly affects children, will be supplied by the International Diabetes Federation.

However, Dr Monda said that the hospital is looking for partners to support training of more healthcare professionals, get more funds for blood sugar home tests and set up a KNH childhood diabetes call centre to complement the free insulin.

“We need funds to buy equipment needed to check blood sugars of these children at home at the cost of about Sh7,000 for each child every month,” he said.

He added that though the project has kicked off only at the national hospital, they hope to extend the benefit to patients from other counties.

“We are looking to liaise with such patients through the county health officers who can place the orders in advance with the hospital and we have it sent out to them,” Dr Monda said.

1,500 diabetic adult patients annually

KNH also attends to over 1,500 diabetic adult patients annually with at least 10-20 new adults and about two new paediatric cases registering every week for treatment.

Consultant Paediatric Dr Lucy Mungai said the major challenge facing families with diabetic children is inability to access and obtain treatment due to its high cost.

Others face challenges such as psychological trauma and discrimination of the patient.

“Children are born with the Type 1 diabetes in their genetic makeup and it has got nothing to do with lifestyle choices or obesity,” Dr Mungai said.

The current cost of an insulin vile is Sh500 and some patients may need to use up to 6 in one month.

Dr Mungai said an early diagnosis and regular supply of the treatment can go a long way in saving the lives of children suffering from diabetes.

Many diabetes patients in Kenya

“If you notice your child is thirsty often and regularly needs to urinate or, if they had stopped wetting the bed but start all over again then you should have them checked,” she said.

On Tuesday, it was revealed that Kenya is among six African countries with the highest number of diabetes patients with 1.8 million people living with the disease.

According to the Kenya Diabetes Management Information Centre, the biggest challenge facing the country is that the number of young people with diabetes is on the rise.

Executive director Eva Muchemi said the youngest patient at the institution is four months old and that for every one person diagnosed with diabetes in Kenya, two others are living with the disease undiagnosed.