Help for Gambia | Three main projects in the area of diabetes

It is a known fact that diabetes is a world-wide problem. But in poor countries the disease's medical prevention, diagnosis and treatment are extremely difficult. A German association is therefore committed to Gambia and works closely together with care attendants there.

Gambia is the smallest and westernmost state of the African continent and is one of the poorest countries in the world. Agriculture, first of all the cultivation of peanuts, fishery and, to a modest degree also tourism, are the only sources of income. Although diabetes is regarded as a disease of affluence of industrial nations, this does not mean by implication that the disease does not appear in such poor countries. There are indeed less people affected on average than in Europe or North America, but the ill persons lack basic care structures.

From the means of the state health system in Gambia, per capita and year one dollar is available. The main focus of the medical attendance is however malaria and aids, not diabetes. That is why there are hardly any means on hand for the treatment of the disease, that is also occurring more and more in Gambia. This is where the help from abroad applies.

An association gets involved

On the initiative of Dr.Bettina Born, senior physician at the hospital "Reutlinger Klinikum am Steinenberg" (Germany), the association "Reutlinger Diabetiker Verein e.V." is committed to Gambia. Its contact person in the capital Banjul is Dr. Alieu Gaye.

The three main projects of the association's involvement in Gambia, are on one hand the medical support and training of physicians, nurses and care attendants in the area of diabetes mellitus, the support of a school in the center of the country and the support of a self-initiative for the care of pre-school children. Due to the help of the association from Reutlingen, the hospital of Dr. Alieu Gaye can be supplied with sufficient insulin, diagnostic medical dipsticks, measuring devices and other technical aids. Also the training of the persons concerned and nutrition counseling taking into account the traditional foods, are part of the help from abroad. Also some further education classes for the care attendants could be offered already. This is an advantage for the ill people, because medical know-how and applied care have modified the hospital routine. Whereas a few years ago the amputation rate with the diabetic foot syndrome was still very high, nowadays many patients can be treated as out-patients and the amputation can be avoided.

Possibility of work shadowing

Apart from that, the association is involved with various work shadowing programs of Gambian specialized staff in Germany. In doing so, the staff can acquire know-how directly in German companies and then apply in their own environment. In the mid of June of 2013 the sixth work shadowing took place already. A nurse from the hospital of Dr. Gaye caught the attention of Dr. Bettina born when working in the Gambian Pakala-clinic. She was invited thereupon to participate in a further education in the out-patient foot clinic in Reutlingen.

Nurse Sukai Kah, wound and foot nurse from Banjul became part of the team of the out-patient foot clinic of Dr. Susan Autenrieth and could receive many impressions for her work in Gambia. During one day she even could watch the work of a master orthopaedic shoe maker and thus observe the shoe modification for a patient with wounds. But the help of the German association is not limited to the promotion of the know-how of the treating specialized staff.

Prevention by education and information

Diabetes is hardly known in many parts of the Gambian population. Thus an important aim is to tell people about diabetes so that the disease can be prevented and that new patients can go to the hospital in time to receive treatment.

Here the patients in Gambia benefit from the knowledge that the members of the association gained in Germany. Because the association "Reutlinger Diabetes Verein e.V." is one of many diabetes self-help clubs in Germany. It wants to foster the health of the persons concerned and enable them a life worth living. With this intention the association was founded in December of 1999 by medical specialized staff and persons concerned. Since then the institutional and professional offers of health care were complemented.

Also for persons concerned in Germany lectures are organized to communicate scientific, practical, medical and nutritional findings on diabetes mellitus. Furthermore the initiative offers information and training for ill people, their family and caretakers, schooling them in the medical and dietetic area. Apart from that, the association provides the promotion of care measures for diabetics. These activities are the fundament for the commitment in Gambia.