A new treatment for type 1 diabetes is started for the first time in The Gambia
In the Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital in Banjul, a revolutionary new treatment for type 1 diabetes will be started in 2020 for the first time in Gambia. The plan is to start up two patients for the time being and to closely monitor this. The new treatment takes place via an “insulin pump” which will dramatically improve the sugar regulation, says Paul.
It is the precursor to the “hybrid external pancreas” currently on the market in many countries outside Africa. The external pancreas is the same insulin pump but controlled by a glucose sensor.
“The sensor measures the glucose level in the subcutaneous fluid and based on these measurements the appropriate amount of insulin is delivered via a pump”, says Paul..
In type 1 diabetes, pancreatic beta cells are no longer able to produce insulin. Patients are therefore dependent on external insulin that is administered via several insulin syringes per day. The patient must learn to adjust insulin doses daily based on glucose measurements, taking into account diet and exercise.
“With the current treatment, injecting several times a day, it is impossible to do these adjustments perfectly, since there are numerous interfering factors. As a result, the blood sugars of people with type 1 diabetes generally fluctuate considerably. This increases the risk of too high values, but also of too low values. Too low values can give rise to fainting, problems with concentration and, exceptionally, even to loss of consciousness. Too high values can lead to diabetes-related complications in the long term”, says Paul.
“After all, the patient still has to enter into the system how many carbohydrates he will eat at meals. Before he makes physical exertion, he must also enter a reduced administration of insulin. And the patient must also respond to alarms. Treatment requires good coaching from the diabetes team, certainly in the beginning”, says Paul.
This treatment will be expanded in the future and will undoubtedly represent a major step forward in the treatment of type 1 diabetes.