world diabetes day

 {Photo credit: Warren Zelman.}A health worker speaks with a woman and her baby outside a clinic in Ethiopia. Gestational diabetes occurs when a woman develops high blood sugar during pregnancy.Photo credit: Warren Zelman.

This post originally appeared on Devex on November 14, World Diabetes Day ().

During her third pregnancy, Eden Bihon visited the Mekelle Health Center in Tigray, Ethiopia. Although a routine prenatal visit, it held great importance for Eden, as she had recently lost her second child, who died from unknown causes at the age of just one year.

Unknown to her at the time, this visit would have lasting implications for Eden and her baby. A 23-year-old mother, Eden, like most Ethiopian women, had concerns about her pregnancy and well-being. But gestational diabetes was not one of them.

 {Photo credit: Warren Zelman}Democratic Republic of CongoPhoto credit: Warren Zelman

November 14 is World Diabetes Day. This year’s theme, “Protect our future,” emphasizes the importance of engaging and inspiring local communities to promote awareness and education on the effects of diabetes and its preventable risk factors. 

Suffering from chronic fatigue, weight loss, and repeated infections, twelve-year-old Hadija had made frequent visits to the national referral and teaching hospital in the capital city of her Sub-Saharan African country. At first, doctors presumed she had HIV, testing both her and her parents. Then physicians looked for cancer. After several follow-up visits and investigations, the physicians tested for and confirmed that Hadija had type 1 diabetes. 

Despite finally arriving at an accurate diagnosis, the hospital struggled to track down and provide the next key ingredient Hadija needed: human insulin as treatment for her disease. Eventually, Hadija was fortunate that her doctors were able to get her the needed treatment in time and that a health care provider and patient support group, along with community volunteers, were able to help her adhere to treatment. Other children have not fared as well.

Think diabetes is a problem of the rich and developed countries? Think again. 

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