The Community Chest Medical Assistance Fund Helps Diabetic Children Smile Again
Children in general have a sweet tooth, and 9-year-old Anson is no exception. Candies and ice creams are his favourites. Two years ago, Anson’s parents noticed that Anson had always craved for water and kept losing weight. He was later diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, a chronic condition in which the body is unable to produce insulin. To cope with the lifelong health challenges, Anson must strictly control his diet with limited intake of sugar and carbohydrate. “It is really upsetting because I love snacks, but now I need to abandon crisps, fries, ice creams and much more. Or else my blood sugar level will spike,” Anson said.
Anson once felt very sad and shed his tears for the diagnosis and his restricted diet. His parents shared the same sadness, and was puzzled about the cause of Anson’s disease because they never had type 1 diabetes. To this date, the exact cause of type 1 diabetes is unknown.
To control the blood glucose level, Anson needs to inject insulin at least four times a day and check his blood glucose level by using a lancet – a small needle-like medical device – to prick his fingertip to collect blood samples. This daily routine has made Anson and his parents physically and mentally exhausted.
There is a more advanced technology of monitoring blood glucose. People with diabetes can use a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) to keep an eye on their own glucose level in a less intrusive way. By installing CGM sensor and pairing it with a mobile phone app, the blood glucose level can be monitored round the clock continuously.
Launched in April 2022, the first phase of The Community Chest Medical Assistance Fund supported the CGM Little Rainbow programme provided by Chest member agency Youth Diabetes Action. Under the programme, CGMs are provided to patients below the age of 16 from disadvantaged families. According to statistics, currently about 50% of children with diabetes in Hong Kong are using CGMs. It is generally recommended to install the device on the back of the arm. The blood glucose level can be monitored about one to two hours after installation, and the data will be continuously updated onto the mobile app. “A CGM can monitor the glucose level round the clock, and the data is much more accurate for a patient to monitor their conditions. Moreover, a patient can upload the information to the online platform, and allow an authorised medical team to monitor the blood glucose level real-time, enabling better medical treatment for children with diabetes,” Dr Fu Chun Cheung, Hon Medical Adviser of Youth Diabetes Action, said.
CGMs are not only recommended by professionals but also welcomed by Anson and his family. “Our successful application under the CGM Little Rainbow Programme has indeed helped us to reduce some expenses, and the saving has allowed us to purchase other medical supplies in need. A CGM helps parents to continuously monitor the blood glucose level of their child, and if necessary, to take appropriate countermeasures, such as supplemental needles or adjustment of diet, to avoid the danger caused by hypoglycaemia or hyperglycaemia," Anson’s father said.
When Anson talked about the CGM, he immediately showed a smile and said: "Of course I like CGM very much! I don't need to prick my fingers so often; now I only need to prick once!" With CGM, he only needs to put a new sensor on his belly every 10 days to monitor his blood glucose level, and his parents can get to know his conditions at any time. "There is a little bit of pain when installing, but I am used to it and I usually install the CGM myself!" Seeing that Anson is now coping with the disease with optimism, the family is relieved and continues to face the disease together with Anson with the help of a more accurate medical technology.
Anson shows how to read the blood glucose data from the mobile app.
With a CGM, Anson is free to meet his friend without worries of having to frequently check his blood glucose level.
When Anson is exercising, his father can check his blood glucose fluctuations by using a CGM.
Anson shows the CGM he is using.