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A Clinical Officer at Loco Health Center in Nairobi, Kenya, pictured taking the online diabetes training

The International Diabetes Federation (IDF), in collaboration with Diabetes Kenya Association (DKA) and Kenya Diabetes Study Group (KDSG), recently launched a National Training Program dedicated to clinical and medical officers.*  The partnership will provide online professional training in diabetes care.

Endorsed by the Ministry of Health (Division of Non-Communicable diseases) of Kenya, it is accredited by the European Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education and the Kenya Diabetes Study Group. Upon completion of a three-month online course, health professionals will receive an IDF Certificate together with eight European credits for Continuing Medical Education (CME) and 20 Continuous Professional Development (CPD) points.

Initially, 2,000 participants will be entitled to take the course from a laptop or tablet. They will learn all aspects of diagnosis and diabetes management for clinical practice and how to better detect new cases of diabetes accurately during their daily consultations.

Healthcare professionals specialised in diabetes are scarce in the region and are confronted with an increase in people living with diabetes. Approximatively 460,000 people are affected in Kenya and if nothing is done the number will rise to over 1.3 million.

Professional education and care can be significantly improved by utilising e-learning resources that will not only save on cost but also facilitate training of a larger group of healthcare professionals simultaneously and improve on knowledge penetration, especially for those working in remote areas.

It is crucial for general practitioners to receive adequate training on diabetes management to better advise those searching for help about their condition. Early diagnosis, effective treatment and lifestyle changes are essential for best practice care.

Undiagnosed diabetes is particularly widespread in Africa, where it represents over two-thirds of the diabetes population

The diabetes epidemic

Over the last decades, the number of people living with diabetes has increased exponentially around the globe. Over 425 million people were estimated to be living with diabetes in 2017, according to the IDF Diabetes Atlas. The vast majority have type 2 diabetes, a mostly preventable condition.1

What makes the situation even more alarming is that half of people with diabetes are unaware of their condition. Undiagnosed diabetes is particularly widespread in the African region, where it represents over two-thirds of the diabetes population (69.2%), the highest of all IDF regions. Limited resources and low prioritisation of diabetes screening are primary factors responsible for delayed diagnosis. As a result, it is predicted that the number of people living with diabetes will increase by 162.5% by 2045.1

Such an increase will have a significant burden on the overall cost of diabetes, especially in low-income countries with vast rural areas. Sub-Saharan Africa already suffers from the impact of diabetes economically. This is seen in Kenya and evidenced by data from the Universal Health Coverage pilot programs for better health and future in the country.2

The solution to overcome these widespread difficulties is dependent upon policy changes that facilitate initiatives.  One priority is education of the public on key lifestyle interventions that not only help to prevent type 2 diabetes but also other non-communicable diseases (NCDs). Policy changes to stop NCDs should ensure that adequate, equitable and accountable resources are allocated  to deal with the rising prevalence of diabetes. This will facilitate access at the primary health care level for preventive and care management services for diabetes and other NCDs. Access to diabetes prevention and care is crucial, but too often neglected.

Resource allocation towards diabetes education for healthcare professionals in low-income countries, especially at the primary health care level, is vital. This can be facilitated by e-learning activities, even though uptake in these areas is low, and yet has a huge untapped potential. Healthcare professionals should be educated, mostly in low-resourced countries where a lack of medical e-learning activity3 does not support knowledge improvement.

The IDF School of Diabetes  is an online platform providing education to healthcare professionals on diabetes management and care since 2017.

For more information, visit the IDF Kenya GP training home page.

*Supported by Sanofi Kenya.

References

  1. International Diabetes Federation.IDF Diabetes Atlas, 8th edn. Brussels, Belgium:
    International Diabetes Federation, 2017. http://www.diabetesatlas.org
  2. Kenya rolls out Universal Health Coverage. [online access] Visited on May 14: https://www.afro.who.int/news/kenya-rolls-out-universal-health-coverage
  3. Barteit S, Jahn A, Banda S, Barnighausen T, Bowa A, et al. E-Learning for Medical Education in Sub-Saharan Africa and Low-Resource Setting: Viewpoint. Journal of Medical Internet Research. 2019. Vol 21.

 

Xangô Bimont is Junior Professional Officer Education at the International Diabetes Federation; Dr. Luis Gardete is President of the Portuguese Diabetes Association (APDP) and Chair of the IDF School of Diabetes; Dr. Erick Njenga is Consultant Physician/Endocrinologist, Kenya Diabetes Association; Dr. Joseph Muga is Medical Advisor, Sanofi, EAH Division, Nairobi, Kenya; Dr. Belma Malanda is Senior Programmes Manager at the International Diabetes Federation; Dr. Sameer Pathan is Global Education Coordinator at the International Diabetes Federation


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