Sovereign Military Hospitaller
Order of St John of Jerusalem of
Rhodes and of Malta


Diabetes: new health challenge in low-income countries

Diabetes: new health challenge in low-income countries

This year WHO dedicates World Health Day to diabetes

Every year some 3 million people die prematurely because of this disease. WHO projects that diabetes will be the seventh leading cause of death worldwide in 2030.
This disease progresses rapidly in numerous areas, especially in low-income and developing countries. “In general, primary health-care practitioners in low-income countries do not have access to the basic technologies needed to help people with diabetes properly manage their disease,” states the WHO report published for World Health Day.
For two years the Order of Malta has been developing its healthcare in the field of non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular disorders, cancers, chronic respiratory illnesses and diabetes. “Over the next fifteen years the communicable diseases (malaria, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS), the main causes of mortality in families in Central and Western Africa, will be replaced by chronic, non-communicable diseases,” explains Dr Guyon, Ordre de Malte France’s medical specialist. “Improvements in healthcare and the ageing population will prompt an epidemiological transition in the southern hemisphere, and especially in Sub-Saharan Africa. This is the new challenge that the Ordre de Malte France’s hospitals will have to face.”

This is the case of the Saint Jean de Malte hospital in Njombe, Cameroon, where improvements are being made in the treatment of chronic diseases, with the specialization of the medical staff, the upgrading of the technical platform, and a quality approach that goes hand in hand with hygiene. For some time now the hospital has been using equipment for measuring glycated haemoglobin, enabling an effective treatment of diabetes with oral drugs. Finally, the hospital will shortly be organizing days for screening high-blood pressure and diabetes, first for the staff and their families and then for the patients.

Another initiative has been implemented in Palestine, where the Sante Famille maternity ward has inaugurated a diabetes clinic for pregnant women. The Ordre de Malte France is thus responding to one of the Millennium development goals to improve maternal health. This clinic offers healthcare to diabetes patients and post-hospital support for learning to live with this disease, Our medical teams teach patients to measure the level of glucose in their blood, analyse the results and use the monitor. Patients also receive advice for a healthy diet and are made aware of the importance of physical exercise to lower glycaemia levels. The aim is to help pregnant women with diabetes to overcome their fears and learn how to manage the disease alone at home.