ENGAGEMENT: Stakeholders discuss diabetes interventions during disease outbreaks
Ifakara Health Institute researchers implementing the Global Effort on COVID-19 (GECO) project, on December 19, 2022, met with stakeholders to discuss interventions for managing type two diabetes, particularly during disease outbreaks with reflection on the COVID-19 pandemic.
The meeting was a continuation of the many dissemination meetings hosted by the GECO team as they shared findings of their study which aimed to investigate the factors influencing the uptake of the COVID-19 vaccines among patients with type 2 diabetes (T2D). Past dissemination meetings were held in Dar, Morogoro and Dodoma earlier this year.
The study titled: Perceived challenges of managing diabetes type 2 during COVID-19 was conducted in Tanzania and Kenya from March to September 2020. During the study, the researchers also wanted to understand the status and factors influencing the uptake of COVID-19 vaccine among T2D patients in both countries.
During the meeting, the GECO team, led by Dr. Sally Mtenga, the study’s Principal investigator, engaged with policymakers in understanding and reflecting on the study findings, and proposing policy actions and recommendations for the proposed management of T2D.
The meeting was identified as part of “work package 4 of the study” involving community and national actions. Against this backdrop, it was an opportunity for the participants to prepare accountability plans and ensure that the identified actions and recommendations are enacted by the Ministry of Health in Tanzania.
The chief guest for the meeting was the Assistant Director NCDs from the Ministry of Health, Dr. James Kiologwe, who in his opening remarks applauded the GECO team and Ifakara Health Institute in general for their work which he described as “fundamental” to the Ministry of Health and to the country.
Addressing the stakeholders, Dr. Kiologwe told them, “We need to focus on what actions we need to take after hearing the findings. Participatory actions are instrumental in shaping our health systems in the country.”
In her presentation, Dr. Sally highlighted some key messages for action proposed in the GECO study. They include having specific emergency preparedness plans, educating patients about the importance of complying with diabetic treatment during diseases outbreak, access to health insurance for patients with T2D, having community-based support groups and interaction of mental health services in the health care management of chronic illness.
The meeting was attended by representatives from COVID-19 committee and GECO advisory members. Also in attendance were representatives from the Ministry of Health, the Tanzania Diabetes Association (TDA), the Tanzania Non-communicable Diseases Alliance (TANCDA), the National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR), the regional and local government (PORALG), and Regional Medical Officers and health care providers from Dar and Moro region – where the study took place.
Dr. Sally and colleagues implementing the GECO project who include Dr. Peter Binyaruka, Irene Mashashi and Dr. Grace Mhalu are keen to meet more stakeholders in Tanzania before the project ends in March 2023.
These meetings will help the GECO team to build close partnerships with key stakeholders and push for their commitment to ensuring the implementation of recommended interventions to increase COVID-19 vaccine uptake in Tanzania, especially among vulnerable groups such as people with type two diabetes and other chronic diseases.
The GECO project is implemented by Ifakara Health Institute in collaboration with the African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC) and the University of Glasgow. The project was funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and Medical Research Council (MRC) through Global Effort on COVID-19 (GECO) health research.