Rehema is an advocate and caregiver to nine grandchildren in Uganda. She is also living with both diabetes and hypertension.
Up to 75% of adults with diabetes also have hypertension. Rehema's dual diagnosis increases the complexity of day-to-day management of her diseases. While she has the support of a home-based caregiver, provided through a HelpAge-supported outreach program, she still has difficulty managing her conditions.
Rehema’s main challenge involves getting access to her medications. Even though she lives near the city of Entebbe, Rehema finds that the pharmacy of the government hospital, where the costs of her diabetes medications are covered, is sometimes out of her medications. When that happens, she has no choice but to travel to the military hospital and purchase the drugs herself. Both the transportation and medicine costs are a challenge on her modest budget.
Not having diabetes medication and treatment can lead to serious consequences. A few years ago, her sugar levels drastically de-stabilized and she began losing her eyesight. Only through emergency eye surgery does she still have her sight today.
When she doesn’t have care and treatment for her diabetes and hypertension, her grandchildren suffer as well. They attend school through Rehema’s support. Without her health, she would not be able to continue earning income for their school fees.
Rehema and her grandchildren are not alone in this experience. NCDs can lead to devastating, long-term economic consequences for families, particularly in resource-poor settings. Over 60% of patients with NCDs encounter catastrophic health expenses.
We must do more to break down barriers to health care access. Help us urge decision makers to invest in access to essential medicines and products for NCDs.