28. Sep 2021

Ambitious project supports sustainable care for youth with type 1 diabetes

Ambitious project supports sustainable care for youth with type 1 diabetes

The 9.5 million Euro project’s goal is to integrate type 1 diabetes care into the health systems of eight African and Middle Eastern countries.
An educational session for youth with diabetes in Kenya, the first country to launch the new project. Photo by Jesper Westley

Today, too many children with type 1 diabetes in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) are not diagnosed due to lack of knowledge or capacity in their local health systems, resulting in thousands of premature deaths. If they are diagnosed, many have inconsistent access to care or receive inadequate education and support.

A new project, Integrating type 1 diabetes care into health systems in Eastern Africa and the Middle East – WDF20-1799, is an ambitious response to this serious global health issue. The 9.5 million Euro project will support ministries of health, healthcare institutions, patient organisations and other partners in building health system capacity to diagnose and care for type 1 diabetes, ultimately providing sustainable care for thousands of children and adolescents.

It is funded by WDF, Novo Nordisk and the Novo Nordisk Foundation.

The project will roll out between 2021 and 2025 in eight LMICs: Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Malawi, Mozambique, Jordan, and Lebanon. 

Kenya is the first country to launch the project.

"We are excited! This project will expand our efforts to ease the burden of access to timely and appropriate type 1 diabetes care and support for children and their parents, especially those in hard-to-reach communities," says Dr Nancy Ngugi, Chairman of the Kenya Diabetes Management and Information Centre, WDF’s Kenyan partner. 

A commitment to integrated care

The project reflects a commitment by both WDF and Novo Nordisk - as well as the third funder, the Novo Nordisk Foundation - to scale up their support for type 1 diabetes diagnosis and care in LMICs in the coming years. 

Novo Nordisk has a long history of supporting vulnerable children with diabetes. It launched Changing Diabetes® in Children, a public–private partnership building country-led, sustainable solutions for access to care for children living with type 1 diabetes in LMICs, in 2009. CDIC® has developed a replicable and scalable model for comprehensive diabetes care for children with type 1 diabetes and set an ambition to reach 100,000 children by 2030. WDF has been active in the partnership since its start.

The new project will build health system capacity by training healthcare professionals to diagnose and care for type 1 diabetes; educating patients and their families; providing psychosocial support and – critically - ensuring a steady, affordable supply of insulin and glucometers. It also will focus on integrating type 1 diabetes care into the national NCD responses of the participating countries. 

The eight countries were selected by WDF based on their commitment and progress strengthening diabetes care in their national NCD responses. WDF will help each participating country establish solid institutional frameworks with ministry of health ownership, ensuring integrated, sustainable type 1 diabetes care in the years ahead.

“Our mission is to empower local communities to achieve sustainable solutions,” says Leif Fenger Jensen, WDF’s Managing Director. “WDF’s expertise in health system capacity building and our extensive partner network complement CDIC’s expertise in the delivery of insulin and supplies to vulnerable patients around the world.” 

Focus on sustainability

In three of the participating countries - Tanzania, Kenya and Ethiopia - the Changing Diabetes® in Children partnership is already active and will be expanded. In the remaining five countries, it will be introduced. For all eight countries, integration of type 1 diabetes care into national health systems will be a strong focus.

“This partnership with WDF will help accelerate towards the ambition of reaching 100,000 vulnerable children and adolescents living with type 1 diabetes through Changing Diabetes® in Children by 2030. At Novo Nordisk, our purpose is to drive change to defeat diabetes, and by working together with our global and local partners, we aim to ensure that all children with type 1 diabetes get the opportunity to live a full and healthy life,” says Katrine Luise DiBona, Corporate Vice President, Global Public Affairs and Sustainability, Novo Nordisk.

The project’s ultimate goal is for type 1 diabetes care to gradually become institutionalised in all eight participating countries, with sustainable care for patients developing over time.