In 5 of Phnom Penh's slums trained diabetic peer educators show other diabetes patients how they too can successfully self-manage their disease. Two-thirds are women. They organize low-cost outpatient care, supply of prescription medication, eye-checks and lab tests for all diabetes patients who are registered. Membership is free. The 250 poorest diabetics who still cannot cope with the costs get special vouchers. These entitle them to a 70% discount on their monthly pharmacy bills.
Good diabetes care is rare and only available for wealthy cambodians with diabetes. It is much too expensive for average citizens. Most diabetics cannot afford regular care provided by private clinics. As a result they suffer from very high blood sugars. They develop complications although this could easily be avoided if only patients can learn how they themselves can influence their blood sugar levels, keep control of the main risk factors and self-manage at affordable cost levels.
Ours is an empowerment "Self-help initiative". It lowers the costs of care by 3 to 5 times so most patients can cope successfully. The NGO trains selected diabetic patients to become Peer Educator for other patients. The impact of every peer educator on their patients is being tracked. Regularly the NGO celebrates the Peer Educators for their performance. The whole incentive system is geared towards keeping patients healthy and free of complications. Only Doctors write prescriptions.
By understanding their risk factors, knowing their targets, how to reach these by better lifestyle, by access to prescription medications, by keeping control of blood sugars, blood pressure, cholesterol etc, helpless victims turn into active people able to take their fate into their own hands. Their personal recovery, after years of living with uncontrolled blood sugars, now gives them the credibility in their own community to help others to prevent unnecessary disability and early death.