Objective: The objective of this study was to assess the barriers to care for patients with insulin-requiring diabetes in Mozambique and Zambia.
Research design and methods: We used the Rapid Assessment Protocol for Insulin Access to collect information through interviews, discussions, site visits, and document reviews. Government organizations, health facilities, care givers, and patients were asked about care for people with insulin-requiring diabetes. Between 100 and 200 interviews/discussions per country were undertaken in and around the capital city and the regional capital and in a rural area.
Results: Insulin was present in both countries in sufficient quantities, although the financial burden for health services and patients meant that problems with supply exist. There are problems with quantification of needs and equitable distribution of insulin. Problems with availability of syringes and testing equipment were noted, particularly in Mozambique. This lack of tools and infrastructure for diagnosis and follow-up coupled with low levels of health care worker training and lack of diagnostic reagents resulted in a substantial risk of misdiagnosis or failure to detect diabetes. The estimated prevalence of insulin-requiring diabetes differs more than 10-fold between urban and rural areas in Mozambique and 4-fold between Mozambique and Zambia, suggesting that problems in diagnosis and care result in substantial worsening of prognosis for such patients.
Conclusions: Insulin is necessary but not sufficient to improve prognosis for diabetic patients. A Rapid Assessment Protocol methodology can be used to define problems in health care delivery for diabetes. Proper care for insulin-requiring diabetes necessitates health systems able to provide trained personnel, medicines in sufficient quantity, and diagnostic and monitoring facilities.