by Volunteer Nurse Practitioner and Diabetes Educator, Kim Hall
Diabetes (mostly type 2) is on the rise in Africa with an estimated 15 million plus cases in 2017 (up from 14 million in 2015), and there are approximately one million documented cases in Tanzania according to the World Diabetes Federation. Experts predict that only about 1/3 of cases have been identified, implying that as many as 3 million cases of type 2 diabetes exist in Tanzania. The costs of the severe complications that can arise when type 2 diabetes goes untreated far outweigh the cost of treatment and efforts for prevention.
Given these alarming statistics, I am happy to report that the FAME Diabetes/Chronic Disease Clinic continues to build steam! My favorite time at FAME is spent working with the fabulous staff, especially of “TEAM SISI,” the self-proclaimed name of the diabetes team formed during my March FAME visit. SISI means “us” in Kiswahili and is a clear indicator of the spirit of teamwork, which continues to prevail in this dedicated multidisciplinary team. The diabetes/chronic care clinic was launched by the TEAM with the help of Dr. Michael Zimmerman in April, 2018, with enthusiastic patient participation from the start. The SISI team continues to assist patients with self-management of diabetes and hypertension at FAME.
Anecdotally there are several success stories and informal reports of high patient satisfaction and reported positive behavior changes. A favorite is of a honey farmer who heavily used his own product, reporting marked thirst associated with his high blood sugars, which he quenched with a case of coke weekly. Changing these two behaviors, and resuming medications which he had run out of, brought his sugars down from over 500 to under 100 in one week! FAME also intends to begin gathering more formal data by documenting improved outcomes and instituting patient exit surveys to continue to reach and teach this population.
I left a piece of my heart at FAME when I first visited it in 2015. When I came back to reclaim it in 2018, I left more of it there instead. Thanks to all the great FAME staff for taking good care of it, until I return next time!