Fighting Diabetes in Gaza
Anera Delivers Shipment of Diabetes Medicines for Gaza Patients
The International Diabetes Federation estimates more than 537 million adults around the world are living with diabetes–one in 10 adults. The Federation expects those numbers to increase.
Treating diabetes in low income communities is a challenge. Gaza is no exception, given the limited supplies of appropriate medicines. Years of closure and economic hardship have complicated efforts to fully service Gaza’s medical needs.
Anera continues to support Gaza’s health sector to help doctors and clinics surmount the challenges. The latest arrival of medicines will serve more than 3,400 diabetes patients. The shipment of more than 500,000 tablets of diabetes medicine (canagliflozin 100mg and 300mg) was donated by Catholic Medical Mission Board or CMMB. Anera distributed the medicines to 11 clinics and hospitals across Gaza.
Together with a proper diet and exercise, the newly arrived medicine treats type 2 diabetes. It can help lower the risk of heart attack, stroke, or death in diabetes patients with heart or blood vessel disease by working in the kidneys to prevent glucose absorption.
The Pulse of Life Center in the southern town of Khan Younis is one the medical facilities that just received a new supply of the medicines. Endocrinologist Abdel Majeed Al Bashiti expressed his deep gratitude for the canagliflozin, which will last about seven months.
"This medicine has greatly reduced the suffering for patients with diabetics and also treated the side effects, like heart failure,” explains Dr. Al Bashiti. “Two-thirds of patients with diabetes suffer from side effects. It’s a major cause of death, along with kidney and arterial diseases.” And, he adds, the medicines also help with weight loss.
Dr. Al Bashiti says the new drug provided for free also eases the financial burden for his patients. "If the drug is available in pharmacies, it is very expensive. Many of our patients can’t afford to buy the medicine so their condition worsens and they end up in the hospital.”
“We are happy to have the seven-month supply of this drug. It’s an effective period for treatment," Dr. Al Bashiti says. "When the drug is not available, we have to resort to ineffective, old treatments that have many side effects that can harm some patients, especially the elderly who may suffer complications like a heart attack.”
Osama Al-Naffar is 44 and has four children. He has suffered from diabetes for more than 11 years. "I tried many medications, but without much success. My blood sugar was always high. And then I came here to the Pulse of Life Center and was advised to take this drug. I was surprised that it was free."
Osama says he is always in debt trying to pay for his medicines. He had to pay 90 NIS ($26) a month, which put a huge strain on his family's budget. "Having it provided for free for six months has greatly helped me get on top of things financially.”
And Osama says his health is improving. "I have improved dramatically. My blood sugar level has decreased significantly for the first time in 11 years." He adds. "I hope it will always be available. If the supply stops, it will be a disaster for me."
Dr. Al Bashiti cares for his patients like they are part of his family and it hurts him to see them suffer needlessly. "We hope Anera and their generous donors will continue to provide this drug. It has proven to be so effective in improving the health of my patients."