Diabetes care in humanitarian settings

Diabetes care in humanitarian settings

Diabetes affect hundreds of millions of people worldwide, a large majority of them living in low- and middle-income countries. Yet finding effective strategies, tools and policies for effectively managing this chronic illness—especially amid war, displacement or exclusion from care—is a neglected area of humanitarian medicine.

To mark World Diabetes Day (14 November 2023) we present a cross-section of work on this front by MSF and collaborators. Several studies assess the shift towards community-based, nurse-led models of care in rural settings. Others explore obstacles to diabetes care for war refugees living in camps in Jordan or Lebanon, highlighting how health programs can adapt to their needs. The demonstration that insulin retains potency for 30 days if cooled without refrigeration is opening doors to more patient self-management, as a case study in remote South Sudan shows.

At the same time, MSF and others call for regulatory and financing policies that make diabetes medications and supplies cheaper, better adapted to humanitarian settings, and far more available to patients whose lives depend on them.


10 result(s)
Conference Material > Poster
Doumit MMasri SBeltran IIncerti ACiglenecki I et al.
MSF Scientific Days International 2023. 2023 June 7
Journal Article > CommentaryFull Text
Lancet Diabetes Endocrinol. 2023 March 1; Volume 11 (Issue 3); 146-149.
Kehlenbrink SJobanputra KInternational Alliance for Diabetes Action
Lancet Diabetes Endocrinol. 2023 March 1; Volume 11 (Issue 3); 146-149.
Conference Material > Poster
Simon MSeignoux JFadumiyo AMuderhwa Y
MSF Paediatric Days 2022. 2022 November 30
Journal Article > ResearchFull Text
J Immigr Minor Health. 2022 October 22; Online ahead of print
Carrion-Martin AIAlrawashdeh AKarapanagos GMahmoud RTa’anii N et al.
J Immigr Minor Health. 2022 October 22; Online ahead of print
Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are high-prevalence health problems among Syrian refugees. In 2014, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) identified unmet NCD care needs and began providing free-of-charge services for Syrian refugees in Irbid, Jordan. This study aimed to describe current socioeconomic and medical vulnerabilities among MSF Irbid Syrian refugee patients and their households and raise awareness of their ongoing health needs that must be addressed. A cross-sectional survey among Syrian refugees attending MSF NCD services in Irbid Governorate, Jordan was conducted by telephone interviews in January 2021 to query sociodemographic characteristics, economic situation, self-reported NCD prevalence, and Ministry of Health (MoH) policy awareness. Descriptive analysis of indicators included proportions or means presented with 95% confidence intervals. The survey included 350 patient-participants in 350 households and 2157 household members. Mean age was 28.3 years. Only 13.5% of household members had paid or self-employed work; 44% of households had no working members. Mean monthly income was 258.3 JOD (95%CI: 243.5–273.1) per household. Mean expenditures were 320.0 JOD (95%CI: 305.1–334.9). Debt was reported by 93% of households. NCD prevalence among adults was 42% (95%CI: 40–45). Hypertension was most prevalent (31.1%, 95%CI: 28.7–33.7), followed by diabetes (21.8%, 95%CI: 19.7–24.1) and cardiovascular diseases (14.4%, 95%CI: 12.6–16.4). Only 23% of interviewees were aware of subsidized MoH rates for NCD care. Twenty-nine percent stated they will not seek MoH care, mainly due to the unaffordable price. Our findings highlight increased vulnerability among MSF Irbid Syrian refugee NCD patients and their households, including: an older population; a high percentage of unemployment and reliance on cash assistance; higher proportion of households in debt and a high number of households having to resort to extreme coping mechanisms when facing a health emergency; and a higher proportion of people with multiple comorbid NCDs and physical disability. Their awareness of subsidised MoH care was low. MoH care is expected to be unaffordable for many. These people are at increased risk of morbidity and mortality. It is vital that health actors providing care for Syrian refugees take action to reduce their risk, including implementing financial support mechanisms and free healthcare.
Conference Material > Poster
Borum Mølskov Bech MOtieno Khisa ANdoca KAyuaya TKajuju P et al.
MSF Scientific Days International 2022. 2022 May 9
Journal Article > LetterFull Text
Lancet Diabetes Endocrinol. 2022 January 1; Volume 10 (Issue 1); 20-21.
Reddy A
Lancet Diabetes Endocrinol. 2022 January 1; Volume 10 (Issue 1); 20-21.
Journal Article > ResearchFull Text
BMC Health Serv Res. 2021 April 26; Volume 21 (Issue 1)
Ansbro ÉHoman TQasem JBil KTarawneh M et al.
BMC Health Serv Res. 2021 April 26; Volume 21 (Issue 1)
BACKGROUND
In response to the rising global NCD burden, humanitarian actors have rapidly scaled-up NCD services in crisis-affected low-and-middle income countries. Using the RE-AIM implementation framework, we evaluated a multidisciplinary, primary level model of NCD care for Syrian refugees and vulnerable Jordanians delivered by MSF in Irbid, Jordan. We examined the programme’s Reach, Effectiveness, Adoption and acceptance, Implementation and Maintenance over time.

METHODS
This mixed methods retrospective evaluation, undertaken in 2017, comprised secondary analysis of pre-existing cross-sectional household survey data; analysis of routine cohort data from 2014 to 2017; descriptive costing analysis of total annual, per-patient and per-consultation costs for 2015–2017 from the provider-perspective; a clinical audit; a medication adherence survey; and qualitative research involving thematic analysis of individual interviews and focus group discussions.

RESULTS
The programme enrolled 23% of Syrian adult refugees with NCDs in Irbid governorate. The cohort mean age was 54.7 years; 71% had multi-morbidity and 9.9% self-reported a disability. The programme was acceptable to patients, staff and stakeholders. Blood pressure and glycaemic control improved as the programme matured and by 6.6 mmHg and 1.12 mmol/l respectively within 6 months of patient enrolment. Per patient per year cost increased 23% from INT$ 1424 (2015) to 1751 (2016), and by 9% to 1904 (2017). Cost per consultation increased from INT$ 209 to 253 (2015–2017). Staff reported that clinical guidelines were usable and patients’ self-reported medication adherence was high. Individual, programmatic and organisational challenges to programme implementation and maintenance included the impact of war and the refugee experience on Syrian refugees’ ability to engage; inadequate low-cost referral options; and challenges for MSF to rapidly adapt to operating in a highly regulated and complex health system. Essential programme adaptations included refinement of health education, development of mental health and psychosocial services and addition of essential referral pathways, home visit, physiotherapy and social worker services.

CONCLUSION
RE-AIM proved a valuable tool in evaluating a complex intervention in a protracted humanitarian crisis setting. This multidisciplinary programme was largely acceptable, achieving good clinical outcomes, but for a limited number of patients and at relatively high cost. We propose that model simplification, adapted procurement practices and use of technology could improve cost effectiveness without reducing acceptability, and may facilitate replication.
Journal Article > ReviewFull Text
Confl Health. 2021 February 25; Volume 15 (Issue 1)
Bausch FJBeran DHering HBoulle PChappuis F et al.
Confl Health. 2021 February 25; Volume 15 (Issue 1)
Non-communicable diseases (NCD) represent an increasing global challenge with the majority of mortality occurring in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Concurrently, many humanitarian crises occur in these countries and the number of displaced persons, either refugees or internally displaced, has reached the highest level in history. Until recently NCDs in humanitarian contexts were a neglected issue, but this is changing. Humanitarian actors are now increasingly integrating NCD care in their activities and recognizing the need to harmonize and enhance NCD management in humanitarian crises. However, there is a lack of a standardized response during operations as well as a lack of evidence-based NCD management guidelines in humanitarian settings. An informal working group on NCDs in humanitarian settings, formed by members of the World Health Organization, Médecins Sans Frontières, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the International Federation of the Red Cross and others, and led by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, teamed up with the University of Geneva and Geneva University Hospitals to develop operational considerations for NCDs in humanitarian settings. This paper presents these considerations, aiming at ensuring appropriate planning, management and care for NCD-affected persons during the different stages of humanitarian emergencies. Key components include access to treatment, continuity of care including referral pathways, therapeutic patient education/patient self-management, community engagement and health promotion. In order to implement these components, a standardized approach will support a consistent response, and should be based on an ethical foundation to ensure that the "do no harm" principle is upheld. Advocacy supported by evidence is important to generate visibility and resource allocation for NCDs. Only a collaborative approach of all actors involved in NCD management will allow the spectrum of needs and continuum of care for persons affected by NCDs to be properly addressed in humanitarian programmes.
Journal Article > ResearchFull Text
PLOS One. 2021 February 3; Volume 16 (Issue 2); e0245372.
Kaufmann BBoulle PBerthou FFournier MBeran D et al.
PLOS One. 2021 February 3; Volume 16 (Issue 2); e0245372.
Strict storage recommendations for insulin are difficult to follow in hot tropical regions and even more challenging in conflict and humanitarian emergency settings, adding an extra burden to the management of people with diabetes. According to pharmacopeia unopened insulin vials must be stored in a refrigerator (2-8°C), while storage at ambient temperature (25-30°C) is usually permitted for the 4-week usage period during treatment. In the present work we address a critical question towards improving diabetes care in resource poor settings, namely whether insulin is stable and retains biological activity in tropical temperatures during a 4-week treatment period. To answer this question, temperature fluctuations were measured in Dagahaley refugee camp (Northern Kenya) using log tag recorders. Oscillating temperatures between 25 and 37°C were observed. Insulin heat stability was assessed under these specific temperatures which were precisely reproduced in the laboratory. Different commercialized formulations of insulin were quantified weekly by high performance liquid chromatography and the results showed perfect conformity to pharmacopeia guidelines, thus confirming stability over the assessment period (four weeks). Monitoring the 3D-structure of the tested insulin by circular dichroism confirmed that insulin monomer conformation did not undergo significant modifications. The measure of insulin efficiency on insulin receptor (IR) and Akt phosphorylation in hepatic cells indicated that insulin bioactivity of the samples stored at oscillating temperature during the usage period is identical to that of the samples maintained at 2-8°C. Taken together, these results indicate that insulin can be stored at such oscillating ambient temperatures for the usual four-week period of use. This enables the barrier of cold storage during use to be removed, thereby opening up the perspective for easier management of diabetes in humanitarian contexts and resource poor settings.
Journal Article > ResearchFull Text
BMC Health Serv Res. 2020 June 1; Volume 20 (Issue 1); 486.
Frieden MZamba BMukumbi NMafaune PTMakumbe B et al.
BMC Health Serv Res. 2020 June 1; Volume 20 (Issue 1); 486.
BACKGROUND
In the light of the increasing burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) on health systems in low- and middle-income countries, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa, context-adapted, cost-effective service delivery models are now required as a matter of urgency. We describe the experience of setting up and organising a nurse-led Diabetes Mellitus (DM) and Hypertension (HTN) model of care in rural Zimbabwe, a low-income country with unique socio-economic challenges and a dual disease burden of HIV and NCDs.

METHODS
Mirroring the HIV experience, we designed a conceptual framework with 9 key enablers: decentralization of services, integration of care, simplification of management guidelines, mentoring and task-sharing, provision of affordable medicines, quality assured laboratory support, patient empowerment, a dedicated monitoring and evaluation system, and a robust referral system. We selected 9 primary health care clinics (PHC) and two hospitals in Chipinge district and integrated DM and HTN either into the general out-patient department, pre-existing HIV clinics, or an integrated chronic care clinic (ICCC). We provided structured intensive mentoring for staff, using simplified protocols, and disease-specific education for patients. Free medication with differentiated periodic refills and regular monitoring with point of care (POC) glycosylated haemoglobin (HbA1c) were provided.

RESULTS
Nurses in 7 PHC facilities and one hospital developed sufficient knowledge and skills to diagnose, initiate treatment and monitor DM and HTN patients, and 3094 patients were registered in the programme (188 with DM only, 2473 with HTN only, 433 with both DM and HTN). Major lessons learned from our experience include: the value of POC devices in the management of diabetes; the pressure on services of the added caseload, exacerbated by the availability of free medications in supported health facilities; and the importance of leadership in the successful implementation of care in health facilities.

CONCLUSION
Our experience demonstrates a model for nurse-led decentralized integrated DM and HTN care in a high HIV prevalence rural, low-income context. Developing a context-adapted efficient model of care is a dynamic process. We present our lessons learned with the intention of sharing experience which may be of value to other public health programme managers.