I know I can make an impact – Maja Zaplan, Philippines
Hyperglycaemia in pregnancy
A seminar about gestational diabetes led Maja to her calling. Today, she helps women newly diagnosed with the condition bring healthy babies into the world.
Maja (middle) with her patients after an informational seminar on gestational diabetes.

Born in 1986, Maja spent her happy childhood in Cainta, east of Manila. At age 18, following her mother’s advice, she enrolled in nursing school. The experience opened her eyes to a whole new world.

The demands of the occupation surprised Maja. She quickly realised that you cannot cut corners if you are a nurse – otherwise your patients will pay the consequences. In 2007, she completed her education and within three years she became a professional nurse at Pasig City General Hospital. Her first fulltime position was in the geriatrics department, where she saw the effects of diabetes and hypertension first hand. 

Then, in 2017, she was invited to attend a seminar arranged by the project Accessing Gestational Diabetes Care, WDF16-1349. She learned to detect and treat gestational diabetes and transferred to the hospital’s maternity ward – where she found her calling. 

“I really enjoy talking to pregnant women. They are not stressful to talk to, they are not sick. It makes me feel happy, because I know I can make an impact in their lives,” she says.

Nowadays, Maja distributes glucometers, strips, information, and encouragement to women newly diagnosed with GDM. 

There is a lot of fear surrounding gestational diabetes, Maja notes. The potential harm to both mother and child is serious, and the patients need to understand what is at stake. But after meeting with the doctor and dietician, many patients arrive at her door frightened. 

“I don’t want to scare them – about the risk of preeclampsia, for example – so I try to explain that not all mothers affected by GDM have problems,” she says. “I also tell them they can use what they learned after pregnancy, to help their own families and other pregnant women. I really see them absorbing the project’s messages."

She adds: “The babies we’re seeing in this programme are good, healthy. This project makes me feel like I’m doing my job well.”

Maja received training in GDM prevention and care via the project Accessing Gestational Diabetes Care, WDF16-1349

Read more about Maja and her work