Changing Diabetes® in Children: Uganda

12 March 2018


Meet Immy Anne, a 14-year-old in Uganda that is living and thriving with type 1 diabetes after she was lucky enough that a doctor recognized her symptoms.

Immy Anne - Changing Diabetes® in Children - Immaculate Anyango, type 1 Uganda

Immy Ann, living with type 1 in Uganda

The cicadas sing in the tall grass as I talk to Immy Anne at the front porch of her home in the outskirts of Kampala’s buzzing traffic. I met her during a visit to our Changing Diabetes® in Children program in Uganda.

Her doctor described her as stubborn; to me she is refreshingly outspoken – about her government, ignorant health personnel and about moving with the hope.  

“You are more than life savers,” she says. “You are more than the government in my country. You have done more than enough. I thank you Novo Nordisk. Not only for keeping me alive but for continuing to enhance and improve our lives. If I could have sent you a cake, I would have sent you one.” And so, this 14 year old girl goes on in a very heartfelt video to thank the company which has its name on the lifesaving vials of insulin that she receives at the clinic every month.

Diagnosed by coincidence

”Honestly,” she says ”many health care providers are really ignorant about type 1 diabetes. As a patient I have to teach them.” With only four paediatric endocrinologists in the country [of 39 million inhabitants] it is little wonder that the knowledge about type 1 diabetes is scarce. As a consequence, only few of the children who develop type 1 diabetes in Uganda live long enough to be diagnosed. In fact, it was a pure coincidence that Immy Anne ran into a doctor who recognised the signs of diabetes. By then, she had had all the signs for two months (large appetite while losing weight, excessive thirst and frequent urination) but been told that it was because she was growing. This journey towards diagnosis was told to me over and over again during my visit, and one can only speculate about those children who never run into a doctor who recognizes the signs. You do the math.

We are many

This was back in 2008. Today, Immy Anne has grown into a bright 14-year old who has learned how to manage her diabetes by measuring her blood sugar levels and taking daily injections. “I know that my HbA1C is too high, but I have increased my dose of insulin and started walking to school,” she says. Along with 1,000 other children Immy Anne is part of the CDiC program in Uganda and has access to specialist treatment, insulin and glucose monitoring free of cost as well as diabetes camps.

These children are growing up to become their country’s first generation of young adults with type 1 diabetes. “We are many. The children are many. The ones upcoming are also many. You keep thinking of a way to improve our lives, to enhance our lives and to make us know that there is hope for tomorrow. I can tell you, solemnly I am grabbing that hope and taking it on and moving with it,” she ends while thanking Novo Nordisk once again.  

I think we can all be proud of how we are Changing Diabetes for these children.

Fact: CDiC in Uganda

CDiC was launched in Uganda in 2009 to run for five years. The program was extended in 2014 for another three years. While the Ugandan health authorities are planned to take over the program as of 2018, Novo Nordisk will continue to provide human insulin until 2020.

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