Talking about problems diabetics face in Guatemala
More than anything, I attribute the success of our diabetes programs to our amazing staff - nurses and health promoters - who every day advocate for patients and make sure that they have all the resources necessary to live healthy lives.
Let me just tell you one story by way of example. Several months ago, we had two new patients come to our diabetic clinic with type 1 diabetes. This is unusual, because the vast majority (99%) of patients that we take care of have type 2 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is the kind of diabetes that develops earlier in life and is much more difficult to control because it requires earlier and more frequent insulin injections.
These two patients are young women, sisters, in their mid twenties, who were diagnosed with type 1 diabetes as teenagers. However, in the last 10 years since diagnosis, they had never found adequate treatment for their diabetes, mostly because other clinics were uncomfortable dealing with patients with the type 1 diagnosis or because the insulin treatments prescribed were too expensive.
These barriers, however, were no big deal for our staff. First, since the medications we provide are free of charge (thanks to all of you and your generous support!), we were immediately able to manage that concern. Next, the staff leaped into action, providing intensive in-home nutritional counseling and lifestyle advice to the women over the next two months. They also provided the women with blood sugar testing supplies (again, thanks to your generous support!), which allowed for intensive monitoring and rapid adjustment of insulin doses. The result: after three months, both women have blood sugars that are nearly normal, and they feel better than they have ever felt in the last decade! By controlling their diabetes, we are able not only to make them feel better but also prevent long term damage to their eyes, nerves, and kidneys.
Recently, some of our staff and patients had the opportunity to host a group of international visitors (see the pictures below). The visitors had the opportunity to learn about the challenges of treating diabetes in Guatemala and how Wuqu' Kawoq is attempting to take care of this problem, one patient at a time!
Visitors chat with diabetes patients and staff