Responding To Pediatric Diabetes In Haiti

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Hôpital Sacré Coeur (HSC), a beacon of hope for the 250,000 people of Northern Haiti, is the largest private hospital in the North of Haiti. Located in the town of Milot, Haiti, the present day 200-bed hospital has been providing uninterrupted service for almost 30 years. The hospital started with Dr. Theodore Dubuque, Jr. when he visited Milot in 1986 from St. Louis to assess whether it was feasible to perform surgery at the 6-bed clinic with one physician and a single operating room. Till today, Dr. Theodore Dubuque, Jr. has made over 50 trips to Haiti to start and run this largest hospital in Haiti with financial support. Dubuque is the founder and past president of the CRUDEM Foundation, which supports Hôpital Sacré Coeur in Milot.

The Pediatric Diabetes Program at Hôpital Sacré Coeur is the only program in northern Haiti providing comprehensive, free care to children and young adults with Type I diabetes. The children receive diabetic care under HSC pediatrician, Dr. Marc-Mesadieu Exavier. Every month, Dr. Exavier hosts a monthly clinic at the hospital where he evaluates the patients, reviews blood sugars, and distributes the necessary supplies, including insulin, syringes, and glucometers. CRUDEM Foundation/Diabetes Fund supports pediatric diabetic program at HSC. The Foundation collects donations to provide insulin and other medicines, hospital patients' fees, transportation to the hospital, consultant's fees and other accompanying personal expenses. The diabetes program in HSC started in October of 2013 after Dr. Exavier, one of the pediatricians at HSC, began diagnosing a rising number of children with Type 1 Diabetes. Dr. Exavier is an experienced pediatrician, but never received specialized training as an endocrinologist to manage diabetic patients. He designed his diabetes clinic as a group appointment model with advice and support from pediatricians and endocrinologists in the States.

Type I Diabetes is also known as Juvenile Diabetes; it has nothing to do with diet or lifestyle. The hard fact is that there's nothing one can do to prevent Type I Diabetes, and currently, there is no cure for it. The effect of Type I diabetes is known, but its cause is unknown; the body does not produce insulin -- a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches, and other foods into energy. The disease can be managed with proper treatment and insulin.

As per World Health Organization data (WHO), there were about 161,000 diabetes patients in Haiti in 2000 and this number will exceed 401,000 by 2030. WHO data indicate that 90% of diabetics are Type II. A 2006 study by FHADIMAC (Fondation Haïtienne de Diabète et de Maladies Cardio-vasculaires) identified a prevalence of diabetes by 4.8% in men and 8.9% in women amongst a sample of Haitians live in Port-au-Prince1.

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