Every year on November 14, World Diabetes Day is celebrated. World Diabetes Day (WDD) was created in 1991 by International Diabetes Federation and the World Health Organization in response to growing concerns about the escalating health threat posed by diabetes. This year it is held under the slogan “Nurse and Diabetes” and focuses on promoting the role of nurses in the prevention and management of diabetes.
An increase in the incidence of diabetes in children is being recorded worldwide. In our republic, over the past five years, there has been an increase in the overall and primary incidence of type 1 diabetes. The highest incidence of the disease is registered in the age group of 5–9 years. 2,438 children were registered with type 1 diabetes at the beginning of 2020 in Belarus.
Treatment of diabetes and prevention of its complications depend not only on the coordinated work of all parts of the specialized medical service, but also on patients themselves and their parents. Only joint participation of all stakeholders will result in regulation of carbohydrate metabolism and achievement of targeted indicators.
Often, children newly diagnosed with diabetes are sent into a hospital without parents. And during this difficult period, the nurse is the most reliable friend and teacher for the child, because the nurse will support, hug, sympathize, and most importantly – teach the basic rules of life with diabetes.
The nurse daily monitors that young patient follows regime of treatment and a meal plant, other medical recommendations; facilitates self-care and teaches insulin injection techniques.
Nurses who take care of patients with diabetes are well aware of the early clinical manifestations of the disease and are able to prevent hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia that threaten the child's life.
Nurses have a heavy burden on their shoulders, they provide psychological support for children and their parents. Diabetes is a disease that requires constant self-monitoring of blood glucose and lifelong insulin therapy, that’s why it can be difficult to accept this diagnosis right away, especially for parents. Often they try to feed the child with sweets or, conversely, exclude food containing carbohydrates, limit physical activity. In these cases, the doctor has to talk for a long time and convince the parents that they are wrong. Nurses help to cope with such a difficult situation. They are guides between the doctor and the patient, as they are always there, ready to listen, explain the importance of following daily regime and meal plan, teach self-control methods, and help in counting bread units. 24/7 support makes the patient feel that he/she is not alone with the disease. This is very important for children and their parents, it helps to understand and accept the disease. After all, diabetes is becoming a way of life.
While staying in hospital, the child and parents learn everything about the disease and treatment: how to inject insulin and use self-monitoring methods at home, organize the daily regime and meal plan of the child, and also adapt to specific living conditions. Of course, well-coordinated work of a doctor and a nurse greatly contribute to this process.
A nurse is the first teacher who helps children with diabetes learn the new “ABC of life” and follow this way of life using new knowledge.
Angelica V. Solntseva, Professor of the 1st Department of Pediatric Diseases of the Belarusian State Medical University, Doctor of Medical Sciences;
Ekaterina I. Shlimakova, Clinical Resident of the 1st Department of Pediatric Diseases of the Belarusian State Medical University.
Translation: Varvara Boika