Many children living with type 1 diabetes in Uganda and their families experience a variety of problems in school and may encounter difficulty accessing the school environment and participating in school programs, such as physical education and other activities such as school trips. Children with type 1 diabetes are sometimes perceived as sick or abnormal due to little awareness of the condition. The lack of awareness and knowledge around diabetes within schools can lead to stigma, isolation and discrimination. Every child living with diabetes deserves to have the same educational opportunities as their peers. School life plays an important role in protecting the rights of children living with diabetes at school. Teachers and the school community have a responsibility to create an equal opportunity environment for all children. Raising awareness and improving education about diabetes management among teachers and the school community, a more supportive environment could help to reduce the problems children living with type 1 diabetes face in school.
Supported by Community Agency for Development (CAD), Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital (MRRH), Integrated Community Development Initiative (ICODI) implemented a project titled “Diabetes at School and Community Project” in 2014-2016 that aimed at educating and raising awareness about type 1 and 2 diabetes and preventing obesity among school students and populations in general communities.
The project was implemented in Mbarara District, though it reached a few schools due to limited funds, the project managed to reach about 4200 students in primary and secondary schools as well as adolescents and youth in communities and 200 teachers and administrators.
These beneficiaries were equipped with knowledge about diabetes and how they can prevent it right from their young age. Teachers and administrators were trained about diabetes and how they can detect signs and symptoms of diabetes among students. The schools were also advised to improve on their nutritional standards and eating habits for school children in order to prevent obesity and other diabetes risk factors.
At the end of the project, through our project evaluation exercise, we found out that 83% of our project beneficiaries knew about the causes of diabetes and how to prevent it.
Also since the inception of the project, a number of trained teachers were able to detect symptoms of diabetes among 40 children who were sent for diabetes check-up and 13 turned to be having diabetes and are on treatment.