“As we speak, there is a serious shortage of Insulin in the Gambia,” said a trusted source. The source said his close relative has had his leg amputated almost died for lack of insulin. “After the amputation, doctors prescribed injections for him so he stay alive and healthy. This became an arduous task because neither the hospitals, nor pharmacies had Insulin in stock. Even Banjul Pharmacy and Sir Edward Francis Small Hospital ran out of Insulin.”
Our source said the life of his relative was saved by a doctor who kept few Insulin pens. “This is too serious in a country where majority of people die of diabetes and hypertention,” our source said begging to remain anonymous.
One Insulin Pen cost D1,000 Dalasis in the Gambia. “We were so desperate that we planned to travel to Senegal, in search of Insulin Pens for our diabetic patient. We want to store them in coolers and transport them to the Gambia. But even that is not a guarantee they will not be rendered useless by the hot and humid weather.”
The acute shortage of Insulin has been attributed to high demand in the Gambia. “Diabetes is so rampant that pharmacies cannot keep up with the demand,” another source said. The unavailability of Insulin could result to the death of Insulin-dependent Gambians.
Diabetic patients fear the destruction of Insulin Pens by the Gambia’s epileptic and erratic power supply. The alarming poverty rate in the country is making matters worse for diabetic Gambians who cannot afford certain foods to help manage their sugar levels.
The Insulin shortage struck the Gambia at a time when President Yahya Jammeh donated Sierra Leone $500, 000 to bolster its fight against the deadly Ebola virus. One political observer said President Jammeh wanted to score political points. “How can you donate such a huge amount of money to another country when your own citizens lack Insulin?” he asked, blaming all diabetes-related deaths on the Jammeh regime. “The regime is only using the health sector to distort money from Gambians.”
Insulin pens, often the size of a large marker, usually hold 300 units of insulin. The pens carry insulin in a self-contained catridge. While some users use insulin pens for all their injections, others carry them when they are on the go.
Diabetes is a metabolic condition which does not allow the body to break down sugar in the bloodstream. While Type 2 diabetes can be diagnosed at any age, Type 1 usually develops during childhood or adolescence. Obesity is said to be the leading risk factors associated with type 2. People who eat healthy diets and exercise regularly face a much lower risk of being diagnosed with this condition. The common symptoms of diabetes include hunger, excessive thirst, dizziness, blurred vision and infections of the skin, kidneys or bladder. Erectile dysfunction is another sign of diabetes. Anyone who experiences any of these symptoms needs to see the doctor.