The most effective drugs to treat diabetes are scarce in Gaza
As new generations of pharmaceuticals to treat chronic diseases like diabetes come on the market, ensuring the availability of these drugs to patients is one of the great challenges facing less affluent regions of the globe. Gaza, with its depressed economy and ongoing blockade, is no exception.
Thanks to a generous donation from Direct Relief, Anera recently delivered a shipment of 73,440 tablets of a new generation of anti-diabetic medications called saxagliptin to the Diabetes Palestine Association in Gaza. Along with proper diet and exercise, saxagliptin helps lower blood sugar levels in patients with Type 2 diabetes (a condition in which blood sugar is too high because the body does not produce or use insulin normally).
Younes Faraj Abu Al-Nour, consultant endocrinologist and diabetologist and director of the Diabetes Palestine Association, expressed his gratitude to Anera for facilitating the entry of medicines into the Gaza Strip. "This was our first experience with Anera, and we hope it won’t be the last. The medicine was not available in Gaza."
“The medicine was not available in Gaza."
Younis explains that effectively treating diabetes requires the latest generations of medicines. "Unfortunately,” he says, “the medicines available in Gaza are primitive, old, and ineffective. We always call for new medicines because diabetes is a chronic disease that requires long-term effective treatments."
The lack of effective medicines increases the risk that patients will develop complications like neuropathy (nerve damage that can cause numbness or sharp pain, often in the hands and feet), kidney failure, and retinopathy (damage to blood vessels in the retinas that, untreated, can lead to blindness).
"The only solution for diabetes is regulating the blood sugar level and this cannot be achieved with old, ineffective medicines," Younis says.
He acknowledges the new medicines are expensive and mostly unavailable in Gaza. "So providing them with the help of donors and humanitarian organizations like Anera greatly eases the burden of patients."
Diabetes Palestine Association serves more than 4,000 patients, including 400 patients with Type 1 diabetes, most of whom are over the age of 25. Now, with saxagliptin in stock, the clinic can effectively treat patients with Type 2 diabetes — the leading cause of illness at the clinic. "It is an opportunity for patients to benefit and improve their health. We have monitored patients whose symptoms and lifestyle improved after they benefited from it."
Salwa is a patient at the Diabetes Palestine Association. The 58-year-old widow and mother of seven has lived with diabetes for 15 years and is grateful for the new medicine.
"Ever since I started treatment my condition stabilized somewhat, but the past two years I have been suffering due to irregular blood sugar levels." She ended up in the hospital several times.
Then a relative who also has diabetes told her about the Diabetes Palestine Association. "I went there and the doctor prescribed saxagliptin. My life changed dramatically for the better two months ago and the best news is that it’s free."
“My life changed dramatically for the better two months ago and the best news is that it’s free."
"The scarcity of proper diabetes medicine for me was a disaster. Now I am so much better. I’m thankful to Anera and all efforts to support our health in the difficult conditions here in Gaza."
You can help.
Patients in Gaza are forced to overcome the burden of an ongoing blockade, a depressed economy, and limited resources. Your donation can help diabetic patients get the medicine they need and increase their quality of life.