For the last few years we have been working on some research projects that have focused on how diabetes affects tuberculosis in Lusaka (The DARTZ studies). Through this work we have met many people who are living with diabetes and we have listened to their stories. We have heard story after story about the difficulties and barriers that individuals living with diabetes face in Lusaka. Stories of years of multiple visits to clinics with diabetes symptoms before a diagnosis is made. Stories of young people with severe complications because they haven’t been able to access adequate treatment. And we have seen patients die in their twenties and thirties from uncontrolled, untreated diabetes; deaths that could have been prevented with long-term adequate treatment. Tuberculosis has a structured and coordinated service for diagnosis and treatment that exists throughout the country, but diabetes lacks even basic national guidelines for its management. We therefore wanted to help to raise the profile of diabetes and decided to do this through the use of cartoons.
We invited some people living with diabetes to join a small workshop. Six participants attended. During the workshop we discussed the difficulties and challenges that result from living with diabetes. The main challenges that emerged during the workshop were accessing care at the clinic, accessing appropriate food products and accessing accurate information about diabetes. We invited a cartoonist, Kiss Brian Abraham, to observe the workshop and draw some cartoon pictures based on the discussions throughout the workshop and with the involvement of the workshop participants. We then used the cartoon pictures to inform the wider public about diabetes and raise the profile of some of the challenges facing people living with diabetes. We hope that this will help to provoke solutions to be found for these challenges and ultimately help to improve the lives of people living with diabetes in Lusaka.
The cartoon pictures can be seen in the accompanying leaflet.