Hamad General Hospital’s (HGH) Pediatrics Department has created a support group that aims to improve quality of life for children living with diabetes who receive insulin pump therapy.

The support group is enabling the children, and their families, to successfully manage their condition. Head of Pediatric Endocrinology and Diabetes at HMC’s Pediatrics Department, Dr Fawziya Al Khalaf, said:

At HMC, we have a dedicated multidisciplinary team that includes pediatric diabetologists, diabetes educators, dietitians, child psychologists and social workers who all work together with families to ensure that children with diabetes receive the best possible care. Beyond this, we are committed to providing families with the education and support they need to help their children live happy and healthy lives. We initiated the support group in January 2015 as part of efforts to motivate patients with poorly controlled type 1 diabetes towards better control and compliance with their treatment regimen. Type 1 diabetes is the most common type of childhood diabetes, comprising around 1,000 patients being provided care at HGH’s Pediatric Endocrinology and Diabetes Unit.’

Recently, members of the support group gathered at the Wyndham Grand Regency Doha Hotel for an educational workshop, including some of the department’s young patients, their family members, physicians, educators, a dietitian, and mental health professional. The underlining theme of the event was demonstrating that the young persons can do the things that others of their age can do, even though some aspects of their life need to be more carefully controlled.

In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas does not produce any insulin, the hormone responsible for controlling the amount of glucose in the blood. This is a lifelong condition that has no cure, but with proper management of the condition, people with diabetes are capable of having long, healthy lives.

Dr Al Khalaf explained that the support group provides counseling to patients with poorly controlled diabetes who experience difficulties in adhering to their care plan and who may have social problems at home and in the community.

This is done through one-on-one and group sessions. One-on-one sessions are held at least once a week to cultivate a friendlier and warm environment between patients and their families in each similar age group. Group sessions are held once every two months. Both types of sessions are conducted through various platforms, including face-to-face meetings, phone calls, online and through the mobile messaging application WhatsApp. The healthcare team periodically assesses the progress of the patients in terms of managing their diabetes.

Dr Al Khalaf noted that the core support team includes motivated patients who are successfully managing their diabetes, as well as their family members, and that they have been selected because of their skills in teaching and sharing information.

During the present workshop, Najwa, a pediatric diabetes educator, gave a talk about the importance of home blood glucose monitoring, the treatment of high blood sugar with insulin pump therapy and other aspects of diabetes self-management. The participants also shared their experiences and knowledge.

The support group will have another educational session at the end of this month in Hamad bin Khalifa Medical City’s Bayt Al Dhiyafah (formerly known as the Club Hotel).