CONDUCTING FREE DIABETES SCREENING CAMPAIGN ON VULNERABLE PREGNANT WOMEN AND NURSING MOTHERS AT THE LIMBOLA INTEGRATED HEALTH CENTER.
INTRODUCTION AND PROGRAM CONTEXT
According to the World Health Organization, diabetes is a chronic, metabolic disease characterized by elevated levels of blood glucose (or blood sugar) which leads over time to serious damage of the heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys, and nerves.
In 2014, 8.5% of adults aged 18 years and older had diabetes, while in 2016, an estimated 1.6 million deaths were directly caused by diabetes and another 2.2 million deaths were attributed to high blood glucose in 2012. As such there is a need for a halt by 2025. In Cameroon, more and more cases are being diagnosed and the trend is on the rise. This is partly due to lack of finance and basic resources but the most important issue is the lack of education on the part of the population.
In response to the situation, All4Women organized a free screening campaign on diabetes at the Limbola Integrated Health Center targeting pregnant women and nursing mothers. The solution was implemented in three folds. The first phase was characterized by lectures on diabetes with emphasis on gestational diabetes which is so common with very little awareness. The second phase comprised of the screening process where blood samples were taken to test the sugar level while the third phase comprised of distributing some basic health items such as, mineral water and washing power to participants as a sign of motivation.
The main objective of this program was to educate the participants on the increased risk of diabetes, help them know their blood sugar levels and encourage them to do regular checkups on their diabetic status.
The program was very interactive. We had a total of 22 participants and two facilitators (volunteers). Lectures on diabetes was carried out by Mrs Aka Christabelle, a nurse and pharmacist attendant at Limbe pharmacy where she explained in plain and simple English what diabetes is all about (causes, types and preventives) with emphasis on Gestational Diabetes which is diabetes provoked during pregnancy and if not quickly diagnosed will cause a miscarriage . This was to ensure the participants fully understood the concepts and this greatly contributed to the success of the program as the participants could understand, digest and interpret the concepts through the intelligent questions they raised.
Following this was the screening process before which, Mrs Christabelle explained to the participants that what the organization was carrying out was a random blood sugar test as it was late and all the participants had already drank something. As such, blood samples of 22 women were collected and their sugar levels tested. Following the test results, majority recorded a normal blood sugar level that is they all had values less 200 milligram per deciliter (≤200mg/dl) except for one case which recorded a higher value of 224mg/dl. The organization quickly referred her to the hospital the next day to do a fasting blood sugar test.
The program recorded an 80% success due to some reasons. Firstly, though the activity started an hour late caused by heavy rains, the participants were patient enough making it possible for us to transmit our message. Secondly a majority of the participants had preferred we do a fasting blood sugar test to a Random test. But they were however happy with the organization for coming up with such initiative as it has massively raised their awareness on Diabetes in them and they pleaded our next screening should be the fasting blood sugar test as some of them could not afford to pay for a diabetes test.
The participants where very impressed as most of them had never taken a blood sugar test. Also following their test results together with the lectures on the dangers of diabetes, it instigated some fear in them which made them promise to do the fasting blood sugar as soon as possible and this be done on a regular basis.
Also, the participants were encouraged to help spread the message in their various small meeting groups and households. The organization, as its objective, promised to do follow-ups to the pregnant women and those who are already diabetic and also educate them on their diets.
The chief of center Mrs. Gladys was very happy and grateful to the organization for choosing their health center as it was the second time the organization chose their health center for their numerous activities.