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Can a text-messaging pilot improve diabetes care in Kenya and Uganda?

Updated: 8/14/21 8:00 amPublished: 5/31/14
By Kelly Close

German pharmaceutical company Merck KGaA has launched a pilot program in Kenya and Uganda to improve the outcomes of diabetes care through a text messaging campaign. Targeted at both the general public and the healthcare community, the program will send out approximately 100,000 messages each year concerning diabetes, as well as advice on staying healthy. Soon, Merck plans to expand its CAP program to other sub-Saharan countries, including Ghana, and will likely implement its SMS initiative there as well.

This represents the most recent initiative of a five-year Capacity Advancement Program (CAP) in collaboration with government health officials and universities. The CAP aims to increase public knowledge about diabetes in sub-Saharan Africa with the goal of reducing complications through earlier diagnosis, managed treatment, and better training for medical students. A 2010 estimate suggests that there were 12.1 million patients with diabetes in Africa overall. In Uganda and Kenya, diabetes impacted 625,000 and 749,000 individuals respectively. In two out of three cases, patients with diabetes do not recognize their symptoms and do not seek treatment until complications arise. We applaud this important service.  –AG/KC

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About the authors

Kelly L. Close is the founder and Chair of the Board of The diaTribe Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to improving the lives of people living with diabetes and prediabetes, and... Read the full bio »