Community-Based Diabetes Care Saves Lives
By Mary Zigbuo*
Mary Zigbuo poses for a picture with Shadrach, who is 15, in Ganta, Liberia. PHOTO: MARY ZIGBUO
In my health-strengthening role, I work alongside our United Methodist Health Coordination Office—the leaders and staff of five United Methodist health facilities in Liberia. The United Methodist Church in Liberia provides Christ-centered, compassionate health-care services for more than half a million people—mostly subsistence farming families—living in three counties in Liberia and one town in Guinea.
I get to know many of the patients at the main facility, Ganta Hospital. Shadrach, who is 15, does not know how many years he has been a diabetic. But one thing he knows for sure is that his lifelong battle with ill health is due to this treatable condition. Shadrach was screened at the Ganta Hospital Diabetes Clinic with a blood sugar level of 480! As evidenced by his emaciated body (because of his body’s inability to absorb food), Shadrach has probably been a diabetic for most of his life. His uncle (who accompanied him) said he has been ill since he was a baby. Shadrach explained he could not attend school because he could not concentrate; he felt tired and sleepy when in class.
Today, Shadrach’s condition is stable. His uncle was taught how to administer insulin, and they returned to his home town of Karnplay (about a 60-mile distance) with a three-month supply of medication, blood glucose test strips, and a glucometer, thanks to the diversified support of World Diabetes Foundation (Belgium), Pacific Northwest Conference (USA), Life for a Child (Australia) and Insulin for Life (Canada). Now, Shadrach is looking forward to enrolling in school and playing soccer with his friends.
*Mary Zigbuo is a Global Ministries missionary serving in Ganta, Liberia.