Medical Care for the Children and Youth in Rwanda
A 100 years after insulin discovery, the survival of youth/children with type 1 diabetes (T1D) is still determined by the country of birth. In some parts of Sub-Saharan Africa, being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes is like a death sentence. However, there has been a significant improvement in other areas, such as Rwanda. This improvement in medical care within Rwanda needs to be sustained.
Especially now during trying times with the COVID-10 outbreak, health insurance is of the utmost importance.
Many children die undiagnosed, or just after being diagnosed, while others suffer from various complications due to inadequate diabetes care due to not having health insurance. Health insurance allows individuals to go to the hospital in a timely fashion avoiding complications and have less worry about the cost.
For the past few years, the nonprofit, Life for A Child (LFAC) has made significant inroads by providing insulin and other needed items for youth with T1D. Unfortunately, LFAC can only support youth and children who are under 26 years old. Due the positive results of these programs, the patients are living longer, leaving more than 600 young adults who are no longer supported by LFAC.
Giving children a brighter tomorrow.
Rwanda has made tremendous progress since the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi. The country now has an innovative type of health insurance, mutuelle de sante. It is family-based health insurance, in which each family member has to pay $4 per year. Since this is family-based health insurance, each family member has to pay before anybody can receive medical care. Rwandan families are large (average=6) and some families are unable to afford such an amount, and in that case, the one with diabetes becomes a victim.
If the family is able to afford the health insurance, once the family is insured, their overall medical cost becomes only 10% of the original total cost. For instance, a diabetes patient will pay $2 for 2 bottles of insulin each month instead of $20, a largely unaffordable amount to the general Rwandan population. In other words, $25 per year will cover insulin for an entire year. The average cost of the round trip to hospital is also $2, therefore we estimate that $50 can cover both insulin and transport per a year. However, based on our experience, some families are unable to pay the $50, and PoH will help them until they can do so.
Health insurance is not just for diabetes, but also for other frequent endemic diseases such as malaria, along with other medical needs like maternal and child issues or accidents. The Health Insurance also injects cash into health systems and makes easier for all the stakeholders involved in diabetes care.
By covering health insurance and annual expenses, this allows the child to attend his/her monthly checkup, and families to get more involved in their child’s care, and increase their communication with the medical providers, therefore contributing to a better blood sugars control of the child.
PoH will also support the nurses to visit families and directly get to know the family situation in order to better help the child(ren) with T1D.
TYPE 1 DIABETES:
results from the pancreas’ failure to produce enough insulin for the body.