Now, I am on top of my health - Dale R. George

Since his diagnosis in 2013, Reverend Dale has been an advocate for diabetes education. He also became the leader of a self-support group in his community, helping his peers with diabetes stay on top of their health.

Reverend Dale is a strong advocate for health education within his community.

Reverend Dale R. George was diagnosed with diabetes in 2013 after he started to notice that his health was quickly deteriorating for unknown reasons.

‘In 2013, I made a trip to Israel, and when I came back, I started to lose weight’, he remembers. ‘It became so severe that I came to ELWA Hospital, where I was told I had a blood sugar level of 295 – that was the time I was told I was diabetic.’

Before going to the hospital, the reverend had no idea about the diabetes setup or the disease. ‘I didn’t know it was here, then I was told to come to this unit’. 

Reverend Dale has been a patient at ELWA Hospital in Montserrado County for over a decade. The faith-based hospital has provided medical care to nearby communities since 1965 and remained operational during the civil war and the Ebola outbreak. In 2006, before any WDF engagement, the hospital opened an NCD clinic through another partnership focusing on patients with type 1 diabetes, and self-support groups for these patients have been established since 2016. 

A few years later, after the clinic's nurse received training from Ganta United Methodist Hospital through a WDF-supported project, the clinic expanded to provide care and self-support groups for people with type 2 diabetes as well. Reverend Dale was one of them. 

‘It was around 2019 when the clinic’s nurse told me about this patient group, and I decided to be a part of it. Since then, I have been very grateful to her because of her concern and interaction with us, and her follow-ups.’, he shares. 

At that time, few would know what was happening. ‘Now, we have our time here for the monthly meeting, we come to share experiences, and the nurse advises us’.

‘Now we know, and we are afraid to do things like before when we were ignorant and caused ourselves problems. Now we know those things were not good because the nurse educated us all the time.’ 

Before the existence of the self-support group, of which he became a leader, patients would pay for testing and medication. Now one can go to the doctor anytime to check blood sugar levels for free. 

‘I was impacted by the fact that I gained information in time. Secondly, although we pay for the medication sometimes, it puts us in a position to be on top of our health. Our health is better and regulated compared to before’, the reverend tells us.

‘Who would tell me before? But now I am on top of it. Even if I call [the nurse] and say, this is what is happening right now, even if I am far away, I am told to do this and that – and I will do it.’.

This aspect of health education is the most important part of the programme, the reverend shares – for him and other patients as well. 

‘Every time we meet at the clinic, she [the nurse] would bring a specialist who would train us on the do’s and don’ts. I keep saying that: the greatest help is information because she would always bring a specialist. Sometimes people say, oh you are diabetic, you feel like dying and it would break you down. But when we meet, when the specialist explains things to us, we go home happy.’. 

To help his peers at risk or living with diabetes, reverend Dale and other members of the self-support group share their learnings with their community. ‘I educate people, we talk to people about diabetes and how to manage it’.

Despite being aware of the country’s challenges, people continue to foster a sense of hope. ‘The programme has taught us what we should eat, like vegetables – but where do you get the money from to grow a garden? Or the seeds? It comes through the programme. We don’t want it to end because we need support for this life-threatening condition. 

We need the programme to continue.’

Since 2009, WDF has supported several projects in Liberia aiming for improved diabetes and related NCD prevention and care (WDF09-0483, WDF15-1273, and WDF17-1488), leading to the launch of the first phase of a national NCD response (WDF20-1743), which has been completed in 2024. 

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