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The Warsaw Voice » Society » June 17, 2009
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One-Stop Shop for Young Diabetics
June 17, 2009   
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About 10 percent of Poland's 2 million diabetics suffer from Type 1 diabetes, according to the Polish Diabetics Association. It is estimated that 1,000 children develop Type 1 diabetes in this country every year.

Between 1998 and 2006 the number of Type 1 diabetes cases nearly doubled in Poland. The numbers are continuing to rise in this country, just as throughout the world. The Polish Diabetes Society says that despite a huge effort by the medical community, diabetic care in Poland is much worse than in other European countries. The Euro Consumer Diabetes Index 2008, a benchmark of diabetes care in the 27 EU countries plus Norway and Switzerland, ranked Poland 26th.

Often called juvenile diabetes, Type 1 diabetes is a chronic disease that usually develops in children, adolescents and young adults. Since people with Type 1 diabetics cannot produce their own insulin, they must add insulin to the bloodstream through injections or an insulin pump.

While Poland is the world's first country to widely use insulin pumps in the treatment of juvenile diabetes, not all children with the condition have access to the expensive pumps, which cost over zl.10,000 each.

"The National Health Fund (NFZ) approved a budget on Jan. 1 this year to refund the cost of the pumps for children aged under 18. It is now June and nothing has been done, because the process is stuck in the courts and the bidding process has not yet begun," said Monika Chrzanowski, an American of Polish origin who last year set up the Polish Juvenile Diabetes Foundation (PJDF), otherwise known as Fundacja CUD.

When Chrzanowski's daughter Lisa was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of 11 in 2007, her family was bewildered. They say they found little information for parents of newly-diagnosed children and an inadequate level of support. "I found nothing in Warsaw, nor on Polish websites, that would help me learn about diabetes in a non-threatening way and about different treatments available in Poland and around the world," said Chrzanowski.

"Whatever initial notes I took in hospital during information sessions was inadequate; there was neither tangible help nor support groups for parents and children with the illness. I set up the Polish Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, or Fundacja CUD, out of desperation and frustration," Chrzanowski said.

"I felt there should be 'a one-stop shop' for families with all the necessary information and support, which will be uplifting, non-threatening and medically accurate."

Foundation CUD has set itself the ambitious goal of becoming an expert on juvenile diabetes and a leader in awareness campaigns in Poland and in Europe. Its mission is "to provide information, education and support and help to anyone affected by the disease."

Fundacja CUD activities include physical education classes; promoting physical activity helped by the RMF MAXXX Warsaw Eagles, an American football team in Warsaw sponsored by the RMF MAXXX radio station; the preparation of a young diabetic's manual in close cooperation with Dr. Ewa Pańkowska, a juvenile diabetes specialist; and a "We say yes to diabetes" campaign in schools to tackle stereotypes and discrimination. Teacher education materials and training workshops for teachers and sports educators are being prepared. The www.diabetykowo.pl website, which aims to provide information to diabetics and their families, is in the development stage.

Jolanta Wolska

You can find information about the foundation on:
www.fundacjacud.org; www.polishjuvenilediabetesfoundation.org; www.pjdf.org
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