Diabetes education: Success story in Sri Lanka

In late June, Life For a Child (LFAC) Education Manager Angie Middlehurst, a highly experienced paediatric nurse and  diabetes educator, travelled to Sri Lanka at the invitation of the Diabetes Association of Sri Lanka  (DASL).

The first afternoon was spent meeting 100 parents and 80 children (aged 5 - 18 years) who receive support from LFAC through DASL. Angie conducted several informal, interactive education sessions, hosted with the help of a local doctor acting as a translator.  “A lot of the discussion focused around the psychological challenges of Sri Lankan children living with diabetes" says Angie, "in addition to the more practical issues regarding access to insulin, blood glucose meters, strips and education – which is where LFAC has stepped in with support since 2004.

“It’s very clear that children and young people – wherever they live – face similar issues such as myths surrounding diabetes, fear of hypos, teachers ignoring diabetes"

The following two days were devoted to teaching local nurses practical aspects of diabetes management using a mix of presentation, discussion, and online education materials. “While I was there, I interacted closely with the staff, relaying practical education tips and showing different visual methods to teach the complexities of diabetes to children with diabetes".

The visit bought home the universality of the diabetes experience: “It’s very clear" Angie observed, "that children and young people – wherever they live – face similar issues such as myths surrounding diabetes, fear of hypos, teachers ignoring diabetes, even children not being allowed to go to school because of their diabetes".  The visit was also a great success professionally:  “Although I was only in Colombo for four days, so much was accomplished in that time. Relationships were strengthened and staff at the centre responded with positive feedback. I also learned a lot from the families and staff while I was there.  

At DASL, the feeling was reciprocated, with Dr Mahen Wijesuriya, DASL Hon. Secretary, commenting “Angie was marvelous with the kids, children and parents.  We liked her very informal manner and especially the fact that she tries very hard to relate to the audience whoever they are. We have come across many educators in the past but we were most impressed with her style as we ourselves learnt so much from her.”

For more news check-out the programme's summer update