New initiative launched to support and empower young people with diabetes
In response to the increasing prevalence of diabetes among a younger demographic in Hong Kong, the “Jockey Club Support for Young People with Diabetes” was launched in April to provide comprehensive support for young diabetes patients. The initiative is funded by The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust and organised by Youth Diabetes Action (YDA), with project partners The Chinese University of Hong Kong’s (CUHK) Faculty of Medicine (CU Medicine) and the Association of Hong Kong Diabetes Nurses (AHKDN) providing project evaluation and patient education, respectively.
The four-year initiative aims to provide diabetes patients between the ages of 2 and 30 with Continuous Glucose Monitors (CGM) and holistic care. It will also organise seminars and support group activities to help patients and their families reduce stress, acquire updated knowledge on diabetes and gain peer support.
Developed countries such as the United Kingdom and Australia provide personal CGMs to all Type 1 and some Type 2 diabetes patients who are dependent on insulin. However, in Hong Kong the Hospital Authority currently only provides CGMs to eligible patients for a limited period of time to check patients’ glucose level when it becomes unstable.
The high cost of CGMs is also a factor contributing to its low usage. A “CGM and Insulin Pump” survey conducted by YDA in March 2022 revealed that more than 70% of non-CGM users chose not to use the device because they found them expensive. The monthly cost of CGM in Hong Kong ranges from over HK$1,000 to over HK$3,000. This can be a financial burden on many patients with Type 1 diabetes, especially those in underprivileged socioeconomic groups.
A previous CU Medicine study found there has been an increasing number of young people with diabetes in Hong Kong, with no improvement seen in death and complication rates among them. As such there is a pressing need to identify high-risk young diabetes patients and provide early intervention. Long-term and continuous glucose monitoring can help young patients manage their condition more effectively.
YDA’s “Jockey Club Support for Young People with Diabetes” programme aims to improve support for diabetes patients by supplying them with access to CGMs, while also providing support and resources to empower patients and their families to better manage their diabetes. Additionally, the programme will help to raise awareness of diabetes, as well as study the cost-effectiveness of CGM usage in patients with diabetes.
The “Jockey Club Support for Young People with Diabetes” programme will include:
- Access to two-year CGM supply – Hong Kong residents with diabetes aged from two to 30 will be eligible to apply. Any patients with diabetes aged below two or above 30 and facing financial or diabetes management difficulties, or is pregnant, will also be covered upon special approval on a case-by-case basis.
- Diabetes education and support – Participants and their families will have exclusive access to regular workshops and seminars to expand their knowledge of diabetes and improve daily management.
- Raise public awareness – The programme will provide regular educational talks on diabetes for the general public and in schools to raise awareness and improve understanding of diabetes.
- Research study – Participants will take part in regular surveys for research purposes. All data gathered will help towards the analysis of how CGM use affects the glucose level and quality of life of patients. This will be led by the CU Medicine research team.
“This CGM programme is life-changing for young patients with diabetes, and the research study will have a profound impact on diabetes management,” said Fina Cheng, Chairperson of YDA.
“Diabetes is a complex progressive disease that increases the risk of renal and cardiovascular diseases. Through the ‘Jockey Club Support for Young People with Diabetes’ programme, our research team will collect and analyse data, including CGM usage and glucose levels, to develop more precise medical advice for young patients in the management of diabetes,” said Professor Ronald Ma, Head (Academic Affairs), Division of Endocrinology and Diabetes, Department of Medicine and Therapeutics at CU Medicine.
The “Jockey Club Support for Young People with Diabetes” programme aims to provide patients with access to the latest diabetes technology, education and support group activities. The programme is expected to empower patients with better management of blood glucose level and improved quality of life, leading to a reduction in long-term diabetes complications and emergency hospital visits, which additionally alleviates the burden on the health care system.