Summer camp for Chinese teens suffering from diabetes held in Shanghai

By Chen Shasha Source:Global Times Published: 2017/7/17 17:43:39

Last weekend, a group of teenagers suffering from Type 1 diabetes mellitus came to Shanghai for a summer camp for juvenile diabetics in order to help them and their families better understand this disease.

Organized by Welltang, a company focusing on blood sugar health, the two-day event included a series of workshops with experts to discuss and learn how to deal with treatment during daily life.

As an annual event, this was the fourth year that Welltang organized a camp for young diabetics. Different from before, however, the company also provided training and courses in psychology, insulin and continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) systems.

The courses, according to Welltang, were meant to establish a knowledge system among parents and children for better communication and understanding of blood sugar problems via medication, diets and daily activities.

Welltang organized the two-day event. Photos: Courtesy of the event organizer

Three types of diabetes

Diabetes mellitus, usually referred to simply as diabetes, is a malfunction of the pancreas caused by not producing enough insulin, or by body cells failing to respond properly to insulin produced by the pancreas.

Tang Yuanxin, COO of Welltang, explained that diabetes can be classified into three main types: Type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM), Type 2 DM (T2DM), Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) and other specific diabetes.

According to Tang, T2DM usually refers to limited insulin producing and insulin resistance. It is the most common type of diabetes. GDM is diabetes that occurs specifically during women's pregnancy.

T1DM happens most among youngsters and is caused by the pancreas not producing insulin. "It damages the microvessels, which could lead to kidney disease, foot ulcers and other acute or long-term complications," Tang said. "Patients have to rely on insulin injections every day."

Tang explained that people in China have a limited knowledge and awareness of diabetes, especially T1DM among youngsters. "I didn't even know anything about diabetes until my father was diagnosed with it several years ago," he told the Global Times.

According to Tang, education about diabetes is "seriously insufficient" in China. "Some medical institutions will hold some activities about this disease on World Diabetes Day every year, but that is not enough."

Welltang organized the two-day event. Photos: Courtesy of the event organizer

Social stigmas

"Patients and their families cannot get full support and efficient help from doctors, considering the insufficient medical resources," Tang added. "So some of them turn to the Internet for help, which usually provides incorrect or misleading information."

Tang made it clear that the treatment for diabetes has in fact achieved great progress over the past seven to eight decades, but the number of diabetics continues to rise every year. "Government and public efforts need to be included in fighting the epidemic."

Diabetics also often encounter societal stigma in China, according to Tang. "For diabetic kids who need injections every day, some schools are unwilling to allow them in, not to mention being made fun of by normal kids, which can affect them psychologically."

Some adult diabetics are also facing obstacles in job-hunting, work and marriage. "They are actually the same as the normal people, except that they only need regular treatment," Tang said. "But social discrimination prevents them from openly communicating with others."

In addition to knowledge training and psychological courses, Welltang also introduced a new CGM system. Tang said that they want to help the diabetics develop and maintain a healthy lifestyle by utilizing advanced medical technologies.

"Family members should know how to care about their diabetic loved ones, both psychologically and physically," Tang said. "Diabetics deserve to enjoy their life as normal people do."

Newspaper headline: Diabetic youth


blog comments powered by Disqus