A leading Mersey and West Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust consultant has returned from visiting several countries in Asia as part of her work to improve the care for children with Type 1 diabetes in the continent.
Professor May Ng OBE took part in a diabetes mission trip to Southeast Asia as part of her role as a Trustee and Voluntary Chief Medical Advisor for the UK-based Action4Diabetes charity.
Her aim was to look at how diabetes specialists like herself could further improve the lives of children and young people with the condition in what are often impoverished areas.
Type 1 Diabetes is a growing health concern in Southeast Asia which includes countries such as Laos, Malaysia, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, Brunei, Indonesia and the Philippines, and many are experiencing a significant increase in the prevalence of the condition.
One of the main challenges in managing the condition in the region is the lack of awareness and education around the subject.
Many people are not familiar with the signs and symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes and there is a general lack of understanding about how to manage the condition properly.
In many of the Southeast Asian countries there is also a general lack of universal health coverage for insulin, unavailability of blood glucose testing kits and limited access to health care services which also contributes to poor diabetes glycaemic management and high complication rates that adversely affect quality of life.
Professor Ng, a Consultant Paediatric Endocrinologist at Ormskirk Hospital, said:
“In the quiet corners of impoverished homes and struggling villages, I have witnessed a world where Type 1 diabetes cast shadows on already challenging lives.
“To see families in extreme poverty navigating the daily struggles of Type 1 diabetes serves as a poignant reminder of the harsh disparities in access to essential healthcare resources.
“In many areas, healthcare facilities are scarce, making it difficult for people with Type 1 Diabetes to receive the care they need. Without universal access to insulin or blood glucose testing, families living with diabetes battle an additional adversary in their struggle for basic needs.
“The experience underscores the pressing need for comprehensive support systems to address both the economic and health challenges faced by these individuals in vulnerable circumstances.’’
Talking about Action4Diabetes Professor Ng said:
“The need within the Type 1 Diabetes communities is immense.
“Action4Diabetes is the only charity providing guaranteed life-saving insulin, diabetes equipment and education to children and young adults aged from 0 to 25 in the region and
literally provides a life-saving service through its commitment to making a difference to the lives of children and young people living with Type 1 diabetes.
“The visit has made me more determined than ever to do all I can to support the charity and its goals.’’