News and insights brought to you by the International Diabetes Federation

Child pictured with doctor receiving insulin pens

A number of factors make the management and treatment of type 1 diabetes in children and adolescents challenging. These include hormonal changes (e.g., rapid growth, insulin resistance during puberty and psychosocial and cognitive development), family and cultural dynamics and the provision and quality of care and support available outside the home.

Providing care for children with type 1 diabetes has always been a priority of the Azerbaijan Diabetes Society (ADS). The association was founded during a period of severe economic crisis and transition, when frequent interruptions in the supply of vital medicines such as insulin and other blood glucose-lowering agents placed the lives of people living with diabetes at risk.

ADS believes that the solution to issues related to the provision of medicines and other fundamental components of diabetes care should be based on close cooperation between nongovernmental organisations, government agencies and international organisations.

In 2004, ADS began a collaboration with the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, the largest non-governmental organisation in the country. The Foundation implements various projects in areas that include education, public health, culture, sports, science and technology, and the environment. Our collaboration began with a project – “Best care for children with diabetes” – that aimed to provide all children with type 1 diabetes under the age of 14 with insulin pens over a two-year period. The project, supported by Novo Nordisk, played an important role in ensuring the continued provision of insulin analogs within the scope of the National Diabetes Programme.

Our experience shows how effective collaboration between NGOs, healthcare professionals and government actors can improve the lives of people with diabetes.

In 2019, 1600 children and adolescents were registered with type 1 diabetes in Azerbaijan, 677 living in the capital and the rest in other regions of the country.

In the same year, on the eve of World Diabetes Day, the Heydar Aliyev Foundation launched an initiative to provide all children with type 1 diabetes under 18 with the ultra-long acting insulin analog degludec. This insulin is considered a desirable alternative to other insulin analogs by enabling a degree of flexibility in dosing time. ADS was entrusted with the implementation of the project, which supplied insulin to over 1,500 children for one year and also included educational seminars to assist pediatricians in the appropriate use of degludec in their clinical practice, as well as training activities for children on diabetes self-care and correct injection technique.

Throughout the project, the effective distribution of insulin and insulin pens and rollout of educational activities was ensured by close collaboration with hospitals and health authorities and weekly visits to all districts concerned. The distribution was maintained throughout the period of lockdown and other restrictions imposed by COVID-19, while the training programmes were carried out online, by telephone or video communication, by clinicians actively engaged 24 hours a day.

It was encouraging to receive letters from parents expressing their gratitude and appreciation. They emphasised that their children had achieved better glycemic control and improved quality of life. The main success was that the project led to the inclusion of insulin degludec in the government procurement list, within the scope of the National Diabetes Programme. The experience also demonstrated how effective collaboration between NGOs, healthcare professionals and government actors can improve the lives of people with diabetes. Together we are stronger!

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