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What is Diabetes?


Diabetes mellitus is a disease characterized by high blood sugar levels due to problems with insulin production (type 1 diabetes) or problems with the body’s response to insulin (type 2 diabetes), or both. Insulin is the main hormone produced by the beta cells of the pancreas, and its primary task is to help transport glucose (sugar) into cells for energy production. In the absence of insulin, or if the body is resistant to it, glucose circulates in the bloodstream causing high blood sugar. Besides type 1 and type 2 diabetes, other types exist, including those due to single gene defects, various genetic conditions, damage to the pancreas, or other causes such as malnutrition. If left untreated, diabetes mellitus can lead to significant immediate and long-term consequences, and can even be fatal.


In industrialized countries, diabetes is usually readily diagnosed on routine laboratory examination and is managed effectively through routine follow-up. In settings like Haiti, this manageable illness frequently goes unrecognized and/or undiagnosed due to lack of availability of simple diagnostic tools such as glucometers. If recognized, patients often go untreated due to lack of effective healthcare: Many patients do not have access to a doctor or nurse trained in diabetes care, nor to simple diabetes supplies such as insulin, syringes and a glucometer. Diabetes in children is thus frequently a deadly illness, or results in significant comorbidities such as blindness, kidney failure, nerve and blood vessel damage, heart disease and even limb amputation. To effectively treat such disease, the goal is to identify and adequately treat children with diabetes both at diagnosis and long-term.


Learn more (LFAC video on diabetes).


For more information on Type 1 Diabetes:


For more information on type 2 diabetes:

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