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T1D in Algeria

Updated: Feb 22, 2023

LOD Global #DiAview with Rania Akoul

Rania Akloul was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in her early teenage years over in El Djazair (Algiers), Algeria. As a young adult, Rania has found a willingness to share her experiences and connect with others living with diabetes in her country, in 2022 organising a first of its kind T1D peer meet up in Algeria. In this Diaview, Rania shares an insight into diabetes healthcare in Algeria and her personal journey in adapting to life with this condition.

When you were first diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, what do you recall was yours, and your family members, initial reactions to this news?

Rania: “I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when I was 14 years old. At that time, it was a feeling of sadness, I felt like the sky is pushing on my chest; honestly, I didn't accept this shocking news when I was informed. My parents knew about it the night before while I was sleeping. When I ask my parents about their reactions as they received the news, mom said that dad cried, and mom did not believe and asked the doctor if I could be cured one day. The doctor's answer was honest and straight, unfortunately your daughter is diabetic now and you should accept the new reality. So, the day after when the endocrinologist came to visit me, she said: ‘Rania you are diabetic now and you will start taking insulin from today before lunch.’ At that time, what I do recall was that I kept crying and refused to take insulin because I had a phobia of injections. As a young girl, full of energy and eager to do what girls like to do in their ages, diabetes initially made me think I wouldn’t be able to do those things that I used to do before.”

What would you say was the hardest part for you to adapt your life to with this condition?

“You know, when you are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, a dramatic shift occurs in our lives.

Personally, at first, it was hard for me to accept pricking my fingers 6-7 times plus injecting insulin 4 to 5 times every day; it was very challenging both mentally and physically. Transitioning from eating whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted without worrying about shots, or spikes and drops in blood sugar, to a sudden daily monitoring, is not an easy task. Low blood sugar was the hardest part of being t1 diabetic for me, especially the first time when I had hypoglycaemia. The hardest part also is giving up on eating sweet food, but thanks to my parents, family and doctors I could get through this.”

Can you provide a little info on what the diabetes care system is like in your country?

“Here in Algeria, we have a full insurance for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes and all medicines are refundable. Concerning the payment, it is done through social insurance. There is no distinction between elderly, adults and kids. Medicines are provided easy access and free for all the mentioned age categories.”

What would you say has positively influenced your relationship with diabetes in your life the most?

“Honestly, at first, I did not accept it at all, I considered it as a threat to my existence and kept seeing it as my enemy. For times, I thought my life will stop and I will lose everything I used to do before. This situation affected my family too, they were worried a lot especially because as I am the only one who have it in the family, so they started to treat me in more caution way but when I shifted to accept it as my best friend, things changed dramatically. After joining the Algerian Association of diabetes, my perspectives have been changing and I have a goal to help people with t1d to overcome their anxiety and shift it to the positive side.”

You've been really active online, on social media etc, to share about your experiences and to connect and support others. What motivates you the most to do this?

“Actually, the thing that motivates me to do this is that I receive messages from people especially here in Algeria asking how I accepted my diabetes, how I managed to use it as my superpower; also, there are people who kept telling me that they avoid speaking about their diabetes and they hide it. This situation impulses me to do something, so I had the idea to make the November challenge but in a very easy way using the hashtag #diabetesinalgeria. I talked about it with the members of the Algerian Association of Diabetes and we did it; we saw very amazing results, people started to open up and talk about their diabetes, which was a motivating force. Many people felt that they are not alone, sharing the challenge of diabetes. On the other side, as I am a member in the Algerian Association of Diabetes, we organised many awareness days during November.”

What would your message to others living with t1 diabetes around the world be from all your experiences?

“I would say to all t1ds around the world that living with diabetes should not be seen as a handicap but as a motivational power to discover yourself and take your life to the next level of achievements. We can still do things much better in an efficient way alike other people, what is seen as a lack is in fact our force. And as I say always: Diabetes is not the end of the world; it is the beginning of a new life.”

Diaview made in 2022.


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