Around 100,000 children develop Type 1 diabetes in Pakistan, need insulin regularly to live normally: Experts

Islamabad: Around 100,000 children are estimated to have Type 1 Diabetes in Pakistan who need insulin for rest of their lives to live a normal and healthy life but unfortunately, many of them as there are not diagnosed timely due to lack of awareness among parents and most of the treating physicians, senior endocrinologists and health experts said on Saturday.

They said sudden weight loss, frequent urination and extreme hunger as well as change in the mood of the children were some of the symptoms of the Type 1 diabetes and if such signs and symptoms appear, parents should take their children to trained and qualified physicians and insist for checking the sugar of their child.

“Of the100, 000 children having Type 1 Diabetes in Pakistan, many are not diagnosed timely and die within a few days of the onset of the disease. If parents are aware of symptoms of Type 1 diabetes and such children are treated by trained and qualified physicians, their lives can be saved by giving them insulin for rest of their lives”, renowned diabetologist and project lead of Changing Diabetes in Children Prof. Abdul Basit told a news conference at National Press Club (NPC) Islamabad.

Accompanied by Ambassador of Denmark to Pakistan Jakob Linulf, Irum Ghafoor Manager Changing Diabetes in Children, Dr. Zafar Abbasi, Rashid Rafique Butt, General Manager Novo Nordisk Pakistan and head of diabetes care at Roche Pakistan Sohail Malik, Prof. Abdul Basit said not a single child should die due to unavailability of insulin and in this regard, they had launched the Changing diabetes in Children project in Pakistan two years back.

“The Health Promotion Foundation in collaboration with Novo Nordisk and Roche Pakistan is providing free of charge insulin to over 1500 children living with Type 1 Diabetes for the last two years. Our goal is to reach out to 3000 children whose parents cannot afford insulin throughout the country and provide them free of charge insulin to live a normal and happy life”, Prof. Abdul Basit added.

The Ambassador of Denmark to Pakistan Jakob Linulf also deplored that hundreds of children were ‘dying unnecessarily’ in Pakistan as their parents didn’t know that their children had Type 1 diabetes and they were not getting the right, which is insulin that could save their lives and help them live a long, healthy and happy life.

“There is a need to tell parents that early diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes can save lives of hundreds of children in Pakistan. There is also a need to train physicians and doctors regarding proper diagnosis of the Type 1 diabetes and putting them on insulin as per guidelines”, the ambassador said and added that partnership between Novo Nordisk and Health Promotion Foundation is a significant stride towards improving the lives of children with diabetes.

“The Changing Diabetes in Children program aligns with International Diabetes Federation’s mission to promote diabetes care and prevention worldwide”, he added.

Irum Ghafoor said they have 16 Changing Diabetes in Children centers in different regions covering all provinces including Punjab, Baluchistan, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and also the federal capital, Islamabad.

“Through these centres, we have enrolled 1544 children across Pakistan by end of year 2023. Children living with diabetes who visit these centers, have access to free insulin and blood glucose monitoring equipment for better diabetes control”, she informed.

In addition to providing comprehensive diabetes care, foundation is also providing training to healthcare professionals on better management of diabetes and have trained more than 200 healthcare professionals including doctors and nurses, Irum Ghafoor said adding that they have also provided awareness and education to more than 10,000 children and their care takers on how to live a normal life with diabetes through diabetes camps and awareness campaigns.

Rashid Rafique Butt said Novo Nordisk is striving to defeat serious chronic diseases such as diabetes adding that they know that it takes more than medicine to defeat diabetes which is why they were building partnerships.

“We have partnered with Health Promotion Foundation to launch the Changing Diabetes in Children program in 2021, to provide access to affordable care to improve the lives of children living with type-1 diabetes which also has a positive impact on their families”, he said.