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Nurse takes blood glucose levels ;

Managing diabetes in the context of Covid-19 in DR Congo

Dr Elizabeth Khadija Tissingh

Partnership Lead, Democratic Republic of the Congo, King's Global Health Partnerships

30 September 2021

Four out of five people in the world with diabetes live in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). There are 336 million people living with diabetes in LMICs which increases the risk of infection and worsens outcomes for infections such as Tuberculosis and Covid-19. Living with diabetes is associated with significant morbidity as well as reduced life expectancy. Management requires a holistic approach and can be resource intensive.

The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of managing chronic medical conditions to improve outcomes from infections like Covid-19. Colleagues in the Southwestern province of the Democratic Republic of Congo asked King’s for support at the beginning of the pandemic, and we have worked alongside the Covid-19 Kongo Central provincial taskforce. Drawing on the expertise of the NHS, our initial support included advice through a Covid-19 advisory group and the development and delivery of a two-day training programme for the six Covid-19 treatment centres in the province.

Diabetes training DRC

We were then asked to build on this support by extending the training to additional sites and to support training for the diabetes patient group. It was recognised that diabetes patients were a high-risk group for Covid-19 and that this was a good opportunity to work with Congolese colleagues to deliver patient education and peer to peer support.

Multidisciplinary groups from across King’s Health Partners – including the King’s Institute for Diabetes, Endocrinology and Obesity, King’s College London, the King’s College Hospital Diabetic Foot Clinic and the South West London Health & Care partnership – provide world-class and innovate care. This expertise and experience was harnessed to prepare a context-appropriate, one-day training session for patients living with diabetes in the Kongo Central province. UK clinicians, nurses and dieticians worked with Dr Mande, the provincial lead for diabetes, to prepare training materials delivered by clinicians and peer educators, including the medical director of the Kinkanda Hospital, in Matadi. The one-day programme covered nutrition and self-care for optimal diabetes management, as well as Covid-19 prevention and simple management. Participants also received training in how to share their new knowledge and skills with other patients.

Diabetes training DRC patient and nurse
Working with King's Global Health Partnerships provided an opportunity for the South London diabetes teams to use their expertise to help others unable to access the same level of diabetes care offered at King’s. It was great to see the enthusiasm of the team to provide clinically appropriate teaching resources. I hope that we will be able to continue to work in this way with KGHP.– Dr Sophie Harris, Deputy Clinical Director of Diabetes at the Health Innovation Network and Diabetes and Internal Medicine Consultant at King's College Hospital

Future work will build on this link and an event will be organised in Matadi for World Diabetes Day on the 14th November.

In this story

Elizabeth Khadija Tissingh

Elizabeth Khadija Tissingh

Partnership Lead

Achim Mambu Vangu

Achim Mambu Vangu

Coordinator, Democratic Republic of Congo, King's Global Health Partnerships

Katerina Anies Peithi

Katerina Anies Peithi

Programme Officer, Somaliland and Democratic Republic of Congo, King's Global Health Partnerships

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