Ambition: change diabetes in Cambodia

On 1 April 2012, Novo Nordisk launched the third ‘Diabetes Care’ mobile clinics in Cambodia. The mobile clinics are part of the company’s strategy in Cambodia to improve access to healthcare and make diabetes treatment affordable in rural communities. Essential medication, including insulin for $5 a month from Novo Nordisk, is made available for managing diabetes.

One year ago, Novo Nordisk set out to address the growing challenges people with diabetes are facing in Cambodia. With a rising prevalence rate in both rural and urban areas, Cambodia was facing low diabetes awareness, very few doctors trained in diabetes, a large ‘isolated’ rural population and many people having difficulty affording medicine. To meet these challenges, Novo Nordisk launched a programme to drive diabetes awareness and education of physicians, provide sustainable access to care and medicine and support and drive National Diabetes Policy.

Driving diabetes awareness and education of physicians

To address low physicians’ awareness and practical knowledge about diabetes and improve early diagnoses and prevention of complications, Novo Nordisk set out to educate practicing physicians as well as medical students. An agreement was made with the Sen Sok International University to offer a modular educational program to medical students in the science and practice of diabetes management. To facilitate their learning, a Diabetes Handbook was developed and translated in Khmer. A similar programme was also delivered to a group of already practicing physicians.

Access to care and medicine in a self-sustainable manner

With nearly 85% of Cambodia’s population living in rural areas, access to health is impossible for some due to long distances between home and clinics as well as the cost of travel to urban health centres. Additionally, both diagnostic capabilities and most forms of diabetes care are unavailable in rural areas.

Novo Nordisk’s solution was to deliver a one-stop diabetes care to people’s doorstep. In partnership with the director of the Prey Veng district hospital, the hospital staff and a local distribution partner, a mobile clinic has been running on a fixed schedule advertised locally and working in a ‘hub-and-spoke’ model with a local health care centre in the centre of its route to treat acute patients. The clinic offers screening to those at risk, medical examinations, healthcare professional consultations and medication.

The programme’s aim is to use the income generated to self-finance the mobile clinic operations by using the local resources and by keeping the programme simple and sustainable.