Young people and children with diabetes are victims of social discrimination

Mazadul Nayan, Special Correspondent
Photo: Collected

Photo: Collected

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Diabetes is still considered an illness in adults in the society of Bangladesh. However, type-1 diabetes can affect children of all ages. Young people and children with diabetes are not interested in getting treatment. Rather hiding because of social barriers.

Rabiul Haque, 22, is still in the dormitory. One day, when he saw her taking insulin, the dormitory officials thought that Rabiul was taking some illegal drugs. As a result, they handed him over to the police. But Rabiul was not taking drugs that day, but was taking life-saving insulin.

Rabiul was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of nine. Since then, educational institutions, even at home, have been the victims of discrimination and oppression. But Rabiul did not stop. After overcoming all the adversities, he gradually started growing up. After passing school-college, he took a higher degree in political science. However, he has to face various superstations for having diabetes.

According to the International Diabetes Federation, 17,000 children in Bangladesh suffer from diabetes. Of these, 80 percent have type 1 diabetes and 20 percent have type 2 diabetes. Out of one lakh children and adolescents in the country, the number of cases of type-1 diabetes is 3.4 per year.

Health experts say that diabetes in children is different from than in adults. Children have type-1 diabetes. And adults have type-2 diabetes. In children with type 1 diabetes, the hormone insulin, which controls the blood, is not produced. So it is not possible to control it without insulin. Statistics from the last 10 years show that type 2 diabetes in children is also on the rise. Type-2 can be controlled. The exact cause of type 1 diabetes in children has not yet been determined.

Samia Islam (25), like Rabiul, is a victim of social superstitions and discrimination. She was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2010 while studying in college. After that, her parents kept her away from others most of the time. She even had to be vaccinated secretly.

In Bangladesh, the number of diabetics as well as adults is increasing. As we are accustomed to seeing adults with diabetes so there is not much awareness about diabetes in children. As a result, children with diabetes have to fight against the disease as well as social superstitions.

According to doctors, children are currently the most affected by type-1 diabetes though the exact cause has not yet been determined. Type 1 diabetes is not preventable or curable. With diabetes, the patient's body does not produce insulin. This is why the hormone has to be injected into the body regularly.

According to experts, social prejudices are hindering the proper development of children with diabetes. Without it, children can lead a healthier life with regular insulin.

Many years ago, when Samia Islam was diagnosed with diabetes, her teachers thought it was a contagious disease. As a result, no one in the classroom wanted to sit next to her. Samia had to stay away from the classroom for a year due to inhumane treatment from teachers and friends. Although she started studying later, she had to face various obstacles till she was admitted to the university.

Samia said that life has changed a lot after finishing her studies. Now I think diabetes is not a curse but it has made me a regular routine. But now the problem is - the boy or her family members do not want to get involved in any marital relationship with me after hearing that I have diabetes. Now I think those stigmas of childhood are back. My parents are also very worried about it.

BIRDEM General Hospital says it has a maximum of 7,800 children with diabetes over the age of 16. The number of children with diabetes is increasing from four hundred to five hundred every year.

Professor AK Azad Khan, president of the Bangladesh Diabetic Association, said that if a child has frequent thirst and urination and suddenly loses weight, it is a sign of diabetes. It can happen anytime after the baby is one year old and in these cases parents and guardians should consult a doctor immediately.

There is nothing to worry about diabetes. The first step in controlling the disease is to change the life style. It is also possible for diabetics to lead a healthy and normal life by controlling their life style. For this we need to raise social awareness, he explained.