07. Sep 2023

When a family donation goes a long way

When a family donation goes a long way

A project in Peru shows how a contribution, no matter how big or small, can go a long way to improve access to essential health care.
Tow elders get screened for diabetes in Peru

People in Lima join a diabetes screening campaign led by ADIPER and the Ministry of Health, during the project.

A few months before the COVID-19 pandemic started, our Managing Director Leif Jensen reconnected with Viggo Birch, ex-General Manager for Novo Nordisk UK and Spain, over a coffee.

It was a conversation driven by a common cause they supported – addressing diabetes in low- and middle-income countries – when Viggo Birch expressed his family’s wish to give back.

Birgitte and Viggo Birch have been long-standing supporters of philanthropic initiatives and the World Diabetes Foundation’s work since the beginning. This made it easier to decide how to best use their contribution in meaningful ways.

Their generous support was directed towards extending and strengthening two successful projects. USD 6,000 went to an ongoing project in Nepal where the funds were used for diagnostic tools for six primary healthcare facilities and one district hospital. The rest of the donation (USD 45,000) made it possible for WDF to facilitate a new project in Peru, together with a former partner.

This is how the Cuidate project came to life in 2020.

The aim of the project was to create new Basic Units for Diabetes Care and raise awareness in two Peruvian regions – Lima and Arequipa.

Nurse checks a patient for diabetic foot

A patient undergoes a diabetic foot screening in a diabetes basic care unit created during the project.

More specifically, the project helped form units at the primary healthcare level to promote screening, treatment and counselling services, training healthcare professionals in diabetes and its complications, and elevating awareness and advocacy for quality care.

Completed this summer, the Cuidate project was successfully led by the Peruvian Diabetes Association (ADIPER), which first partnered with WDF in 2010. ADIPER also implemented WDF’s fundraising programme in Peru in 2015 with great results.

‘I found working on this project to be a valuable experience because I am strongly interested in improving diabetic foot care’, shares Dr Jorge Calderón Ticona, the project’s coordinator and former president of ADIPER.

‘I believe we have made significant improvements to the extent that the coordinators in Lima have started to change procedures and continued to ask for support from ADIPER – which we will continue to provide’, he adds.

The project is a great reminder that donations catalyse real change and help others do more – in sustainable ways.

Dr Jorge Calderon and participants of the diabetes prevention project

Dr Jorge Calderon (left) with healthcare professionals and ADIPER members during a comprehensive care campaign in Lima.

Thanks to the close collaboration between ADIPER and the Ministry of Health, the targets have almost been met despite the severe impact that the pandemic had on Peruvian healthcare (the country recorded the world’s highest COVID-19 mortality rate in 2021).

12 units were built or enhanced to provide diabetic foot care and prevention services, within primary care clinics where many patients have little access to healthcare specialists.

These units assist people with active screening and timely diagnosis and treatment, especially for complications. During the programme, 71 ulcers were treated, and over 1,300 patients were screened for diabetic foot issues. A similar number of people were trained in diabetic foot self-care and prevention.

Moreover, 45 physicians, nurses and health care workers have been trained in diabetic foot care and prevention. 

These results could not have been achieved without the impressive dedication shown by the Peruvian diabetes association, the Ministry of Health, healthcare professionals and volunteers who have been actively involved in awareness-raising, advocacy, education, and screening campaign efforts.

Dr Jorge Calederon and healthcare professionals

Primary care health personnel during training in the Diabetic Foot Unit of the Arzobispo Loayza National Hospital in Lima.

“There is great potential for further engagement in Peru”, explains Line Bechmann, WDF programme manager. ‘We have supported the implementation of several successful projects led by strong partnerships – and the intention for the future is to build something of a larger, more sustainable scale based on our experiences in the country’.

The project left a mark, as it inspired other initiatives outside its scope. A few examples are the virtual diabetic foot care course implemented within primary care in coordination with the Ministry of Health and two online training courses developed and followed by over 500 health professionals at the national level.

‘This is great news and we have always been confident in how the project was developed’, shared Viggo Birch upon seeing the results.

‘We are immensely proud to have contributed to it.’

Volunteers during World Diabetes Day in Peru

People with type 2 diabetes, health professionals and ADIPER members join a healthy walk together on World Diabetes Day.

WDF is currently supporting one project in Peru – Expanding integrated diabetic retinopathy care in Northern Peru - led by Orbis International and the International Regional Institute of Ophthalmology, following the successful implementation of a regional model piloted in 2014.