In Rwanda, diabetes is a leading non-communicable disease (NCD) for premature death, with type 1 as a predominant condition, and with many cases being misdiagnosed or going undiagnosed due to death. Despite Rwanda’s national community-based health insurance programs, poor socioeconomic status, lack of social inclusion of young people with type 1 diabetes (T1D), and lack of proper access to care and treatment continues to be a challenge.
Recognizing the situation and understanding the urgent need to address T1D among young people in Rwanda, NCD Child Young Leader, Gabriel Makiriro, decided to take action by starting an initiative that aims to improve T1D self-care, management and control through increased awareness and community outreach activities that involve family members of patients with T1D. The project will work with communities in the eastern and northern regions of the Rwanda where the burden is greatest.
Project objectives and partners
As part of his year two project, Gabriel teamed up with the Rwanda Diabetic Association (RDA), Rwanda Non-Communicable Diseases Alliance (RNCDA), and Rwanda Youth Voice for Change to integrate families into T1D care and control in the rural and suburban communities. The project will recruit and train a team of volunteers to become familiar with important elements of diabetes care including glucose regulation, insulin therapy, follow-up care, monitoring and self-management. The trained volunteers will provide support and educate young people living with T1D, as well as their parents and family members, on ways to manage and care for T1D.
- Raise awareness of T1D in the community
- Engage media for advocacy and awareness of T1D
- Empower youth living with T1D
- Educate family members of young people living with T1D
- Donate glucometers, strips and diabetes diaries to support self-care at home
Community training and advocacy
The team kicked off the project during Diabetes Awareness Month back in November 2022 and trained 15 volunteers to become community support contacts and to assist with the implementation of family participation and involvement during outreach activities.
The training session provided volunteers with knowledge on diabetes self-care, which includes becoming familiar with what diabetes is, its risk factors, causes, signs and symptoms, testing, associated complications, and strategies to prevent and manage diabetes. Volunteers also had the opportunity to build on their knowledge by attending conferences and community engagement activities that focused on T1D.
Next up, the project team and volunteers will visit NCD clinics in eastern and northern regions of Rwanda to identify young people living with T1D and work with them by educating them on self-care strategies and provide equipment and other forms of assistance that will empower and allow them to better manage their condition.
Stay tuned for more on the team’s work!