Nigeria promises free treatment for children with diabetes

Nigerian Minister of Health orders free treatment of diabetic children in all government owned hospitals across the country.

18 June 2013 Brit Larsen

Health club students under the SIDCAIN project in Oyo State. Photo: Ulugbek Bekmukhamedov

19 June 2013. Children with type 1 diabetes and their parents woke up to a good piece of news last week as Nigeria's Minister of Health, Prof Onyebuchi Chukwu ordered the immediate free treatment of  children with diabetes in all government owned hospitals across the country.

The Minister said that treatment will be available to all children suffering from diabetes whose parents are registered with the national health insurance scheme (NHIS) irrespective of their location across the country.

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According to Dr Abiola Oduwole, the Head of Endocrinology Unit in the Paediatric Department of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, the cost of membership to NHIS is 1 dollar per month. “The Paediatric Endocrinology Society welcomes this commitment from the federal government. We will encourage our patients and parents to join NHIS,” she says.

WDF is currently supporting four projects in Nigeria, one of them focusing on training health care personnel in paediatric endocrinology in the West Africa region. The training is organised by and hosted at Lagos University Teaching Hospital in Nigeria.

“In the past years the WDF has granted 1.7 million USD in support to six projects in Nigeria. These projects have played an important role in enabling the local community and health authorities to identify and treat diabetes. We are delighted to see that the government of Nigeria is prioritising the much needed access to diabetes care for children and providing them a chance to survive and live,” WDF Programme Coordinator, Mr Ulugbek Bekmukhamedov says.

Children in Africa also get diabetes

The recorded incidence of type 1 diabetes among children aged 0-14 in Nigeria is 2.9 per 100,000 children per year (IDF Diabetes Atlas, 5th edition). Only two other African countries have recorded incidences for type 1 diabetes, namely Tanzania (0.9) and Zimbabwe (0.8). The comparative incidence rate in European countries is around 18.

“The point here is not that children in African countries don’t get type 1 diabetes. The point is that very few of them survive to be diagnosed,” says WDF Managing Director, Dr Anders Dejgaard. “While an estimated tenth of all diabetes cases worldwide are type 1 diabetes, we cannot oversee the children who are suffering from type 1 diabetes.”

While type 2 diabetes can be managed initially to a large degree through adopting a healthy lifestyle, persons with type 1 diabetes are insulin-dependent from day one and the rest of their life. Children with diabetes is one of WDF focus areas accounting for 4,6 % of WDF funding. It should be noted that WDF supports capacity building related to children with diabetes, but not cost to medication.

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