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Muhlenberg College

Publication Date

Spring 2013

Program Name

South Africa: Community Health and Social Policy


This study portrays the lived experiences of diabetics and diabetes caregivers in Durban suburbs through the lens of Diabetes South Africa (DSA), a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) operating out of Durban. Furthermore, this study also analyzes the progression of the treatment and services offered to diabetics. The specific aim of this study was to understand the situation of diabetic care in the suburbs and the obstacles to improvement. Because diabetes is registered by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a worldwide epidemic and because the rate of diagnosis will be increasing (World Health Organization: Diabetes updated March 2013), it is necessary to comprehend the current state of care in order to cope with the worsening situation as the population of diabetics is increasing.

This study provides a unique perspective on diabetes care facilitated by DSA and others through narrative, triangulating my personal experience and others’ personal experiences about being diabetic or offering services to diabetics. Interview was the most significant vehicle for obtaining information, and the interviews are retold in narrative form. Members of DSA, an endocrinologist, two nutritionists, a podiatrist, and a community member have all offered their experiences as aids to understand the situations that face diabetics in Durban. The primary site for the project is DSA and my relative personal experiences while volunteering with DSA as a Type 1 diabetic have also been recounted in this comprehensive report.

Each individual that was interviewed about their experience with diabetes had different experiences in that they each interpreted their involvement and relationship with the disease differently. In this study, I found that my opinion about diabetes care and management in Durban shifted from critical and skeptical to an opinion that is now appreciative with increasing trust in the medical system of South Africa. The services that are currently offered via hospital (public and private) or clinic are not offered effectively to diabetics, but the system is ever-improving. The support system that DSA offers is utilized widely in the Durban suburbs and DSA supplements necessary knowledge to diabetic patients, even from suburbs where public hospitals or clinics are not able to perform on par. I personally have become inspired by the amount of work that DSA accomplishes with limited staffing and monetary (donation) resources.


Community Health and Preventive Medicine | Health Services Research | Other Public Health


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