A conference in Armagh today highlighted two new diabetes services introduced over the past 3 years, with funding provided by the European Union’s INTERRERG IVA programme, which are proving to be a great success. The first service, called the CHOICE programme is for children and young people who have diabetes. The second service is specifically for women planning pregnancy who attend Pre-pregnancy Care clinics in their local areas.
Both programmes aim to help people with diabetes manage their condition more effectively and have been rolled out across Northern Ireland and in the border areas of the Republic of Ireland. The programmes are delivered in local health facilities and to date 2,328 people, including children with diabetes and their parents / carers, have attended CHOICE programmes. With the Pre-pregnancy Care clinics, women with diabetes who are planning a pregnancy or women who have had gestational diabetes during a previous pregnancy and are planning another pregnancy, receive support in obtaining healthy blood sugar levels which is beneficial for them and their baby. To date 304 women have attended Pre-pregnancy Care clinics.
Both diabetes services were introduced as part of a cross border diabetes project funded under the European Union’s INTERREG IVA programme secured by Co-operation and Working Together (CAWT), the cross border health services partnership.
Health Minister Edwin Poots said: “The success of these projects is a tremendous achievement in the effective management of diabetes. The programmes will enable women considering pregnancy, children and their families to do something which is just as important as attending clinic appointments and undergoing medical interventions: that is to take charge of their condition and to equip themselves with the skills and the confidence to manage their diabetes. He added: “I congratulate the project team on their achievements. They have enabled hundreds of people to benefit across Northern Ireland and in the Republic of Ireland by improving access to these important services. They have also cemented a strong ethos of collaboration between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland in the delivery of Health and Social Care.”
Adrienne Copeland’s from Co. Antrim’s whose daughter Aimee (aged 9) recently attended the 4-week CHOICE programme in Antrim Area Hospital said: “Aimee was diagnosed with Type I Diabetes at 2 years of age, that’s 7 years ago. The CHOICE programme has helped to stabilise Aimee’s condition and has given her a lot more freedom. It has added to her life in so many positive ways I could not have anticipated. I wish the CHOICE programme had been available when my daughter was first diagnosed. Every family, where a child has Type I diabetes, should have the opportunity to attend CHOICE. It is a fabulous programme.”
Dr Brid Farrell from the Public Health Agency, who chairs the cross border project responsible for the roll-out of the two new diabetes services, was enthusiastic about the monitoring results and service user feedback received so far. She said: “We are delighted to report that both programmes are proving to be a great success with those with diabetes. Children who have attended CHOICE are telling us that they feel more in control of their diabetes and their blood glucose results are showing improvements. Similarly, women attending Pre-pregnancy Care have found the clinics supportive and beneficial and early findings show improvements in blood glucose control, which will benefit both baby and mother.”
Both programmes are being closely monitored and are being independently evaluated to determine their future development in both jurisdictions.
At a cross border event in Armagh, Health Minister, Edwin Poots, heard from people with diabetes about the impact two education programmes are having on their condition. The event was organised by the Co-operation and Working Together (CAWT) cross border health partnership. Pictured from left are (front row): Maureen Casey from Ballymena; Baby Alfie with his mum Emma Meneely, CAWT Project Manager and Megan Harty from Newry. Back row (from left): Michael Drumm from Omagh; Dr Brid Farrell, Public Health Agency and Edwin Poots, Minister for Health.