On behalf of Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, the WHO Country Office in Liberia on 1st September 2020 donated a consignment of Human Insulin and Glucagen to the government to increase access for the treatment of Diabetes Mellitus in Liberia.
The consignment contained 3,500 vails of Protaphane, 1,500 vails of Actrapid, 1,500 vials of Mixtard, 100 doses of Glucagen. Human insulin is used to control blood sugar level in people with type 1 diabetes and Glucagen is an injectable antidote for injectable Insulin; it is indicated in case an individual becomes hypoglycemic due to high dose in Insulin.
Following the confirmation of COVID-19 in Liberia, findings from observation in the field indicated that there was a relative decrease in health facility attendance, initially in health facilities in Monrovia and its immediate environs and then later to other parts of the country. This was further validated by a review conducted by the Health Management Information System (HMIS) at the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Liberia which indicated a relative decline in key performance indicators in 2020, compared to the same period in 2019.
Findings from this review also revealed an overall 23 percent reduction in health facility attendance with 20 percent reduction in the number of new cases of Diabetes Mellitus diagnosed in health facilities in the first quarter of 2020, compared to the same period in 2019. The low rates of testing and management of diabetes cases is of great concern, considering the fact that people living with Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), including Diabetes Mellitus, have increased risk of developing severe COVID-19-related illness and death.
Moreover, findings from a WHO survey conducted in May 2020 by 155 countries also revealed that, prevention and treatment services for NCDs have been severely disrupted since the COVID-19 pandemic, with low-income countries like Liberia being the most affected.
Handing over the consignment of Human Insulin and Glucagen on the grounds of the Ministry of Health in Monrovia, Dr. Peter Clement, WHO Representative in Liberia said he was pleased to present the medication to the Government of Liberia (GOL) on behalf of the WHO Director General and Regional Director for Africa.
Emphasizing the need for people suffering from Diabetes Mellitus to have access to such live-saving medicine, Dr. Clement said many people need insulin and it is WHO's way of identifying with the people of Liberia. "The essence is that we must save the lives of the people", he added.
The Honorable Minster of Health, Dr. Wilhelmina Jallah, in receiving the items from the WHO Representative, expressed sincere appreciation to WHO, while acknowledging the presence and cardinal role of Dr. Peter Clement in supporting the GOL at this critical time.
"A part of the most vulnerable groups include people with diabetes; they are susceptible to becoming severely ill with COVID-19", she said.
Dr. Jallah said, in order to keep people who are suffering from Diabetes Mellitus safe by regulating their blood sugar levels, the consignment of Human Insulin and Glucagen will be distributed to major health facilities and will be used to treat diabetic patients free of charge.