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An assessment of the health care system for diabetes in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Yeweyenhareg Feleke
Fikre Enquselassie


Background: During the past decade, diabetes mellitus has emerged as an important clinical and public health problem through out the world. WHO estimated the number of cases of diabetics in Ethiopia to be about 800,000 in 2000, and projected that it would increase to about 1.8 million by the year 2030. Care for diabetic patients may require close and sustained support from a health care team, adequate financial resources, and advanced patient knowledge and motivation. In this respect, there is lack of information in the country.

Objective: This study was conducted with the aim of assessing the characteristics of the health care system for diabetic patients, how diabetic patients are cared for including medical care and adequacy of facilities for the prevention of complications and outcomes at primary health care and secondary health care levels.

Methods: An assessment of the characteristics of the health care system (structure) for diabetic patients was conducted in 21 health centres (primary health care level) and 5 regional hospitals (secondary health care level) in Addis Ababa. Furthermore, a total of 106 diabetic patients drawn from six out of the 21 health centres and another 123 diabetic patients drawn from three of the six hospitals were consecutively interviewed.

Results: All the Regional hospitals and one of the health centres were running established diabetic referral clinics. Similarly, a lack of professionals was observed in all the health institutions in general and the health centres, in particular. Only 21% of patients had access for blood glucose monitoring at the same health institutions. The emphasis given for diabetic education (24%) was less than expected. Only 11 (5%) of diabetic patients were able to do self blood glucose monitoring at home. Fifty one percents of patients didn't have urine analysis, BUN, creatinine and lipid profile in the previous 1-2 years. None of diabetic patients had haemoglobin Alc (HbA1c) determination. Nearly 75% of the patients required admissions directly or indirectly due to uncontrolled diabetes. About 87% of the diabetics had regular follow ups at their respective health centres and hospitals. Hypertension (34%), diabetes related eye disease (33%) and renal disease (21%) were the major associated illnesses observed among the diabetics. Sixty-six patients (23%) had a total of about 131 admissions.

Conclusion: Although there is a well-established health infrastructure for diabetics care in Addis Ababa, the diabetic care is below the acceptable standard. The finding of this study may, thus, help to clarify issues related to potential changes in the health care system dealing with diabetes and for strengthening the referral system for diabetes health care.

Ethiopian Journal of Health Development Vol. 19(3) 2005: 203-210

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