Diabetic aid for 200 kids
Nadisha Hunter, Gleaner Writer
Fourteen-year-old Sashelle Brown is among the country's 200 diabetic children who will be given assistance in realising their dreams of living their lives as normal individuals.
The International Diabetes Federation, through a pilot programme 'Life For A Child', has donated diabetic medications such as insulin and syringes to improve the children's living conditions.
Sashelle, who has been living with the deadly illness for 11 years, said she was elated for the help, as it would change her life immensely.
"I am thankful to the group because when I see other children doing things that I can't do, due to my sickness, I feel bad. I am getting medication and I know they will make me feel better," she said.
Her mother, Deafra Duncan, said it has been 11 hard years caring for a diabetic patient on her own.
"It is very difficult because day by day I have to give her insulin and I have to get up at nights to watch her to see if she is OK and to balance that with work and sometimes hospital, it is not easy," she said.
She noted that it was equally rough financially.
"I am almost a single parent with six children, but I try my best to see to it that she got her insulin even if I have to borrow the money," the mother added.
Expressing how thankful she was for the medications, she said it would ease the burden off her already insufficient funds.
"I am happy and grateful for the help because it will take the stress off me so that I can think about something else," she said.
Right to a healthy life
Speaking at the launch of the programme on Wednesday at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston, Professor Jean Claude Mbanya, president of the International Diabetes Federation, said while every child has a right to a healthy life, too many die from the lack of insulin in the developing countries.
"This is unacceptable and I think it is incumbent on persons working in the field to do something about it," he said.
Mbanya called for the country's assistance in combating the deadly disease in children.
He said helping 200 children out of the 1,300 children who are suffering with the disease is not enough and it calls for attention from the public.
Chief medical officer at the Ministry of Health, Sheila Campbell Forrester, said the launching of the 'Life For A Child' programme comes at an appropriate time because of an increase in Type-2 diabetes in youths. She said even more worrying was the hike in obesity in children, a primary risk factor for developing diabetes.
"If the prevalence of diabetes continues to increase as a result of unhealthy lifestyle choices and, if persons with diabetes and other chronic diseases do not have their illnesses under control, then the burden of these diseases on the individual, health sector and the nation as a whole will be tremendous," she said.
Diabetes is the fourth-leading cause of death in Jamaica with the direct cost of the disease to the Jamaican economy being approximately US$170 million.
Campbell Forrester said the help from the international group would save the Government approximately US$1 million.