Assessing teachers and parent’s knowledge, attitudes, perceptions and awareness on type 1 diabetes in children presenting to the children’s diabetic clinic at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital

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Diabetes mellitus is a group of metabolic diseases characterized by chronic hyperglycemia resulting from inadequate insulin production or reduced tissue sensitivity to insulin. Type 1 diabetes is an endocrine disorder characterized by the absolute deficiency of insulin caused by the autoimmune destruction of the β cells of the pancreas. DM is a lifelong condition which requires continuous self-management by patients. Early diagnosis and improved management will reduce the risk of complications of the disease. The majority of young people with diabetes spend many hours at school and/or in some type of child care program. Trained and knowledgeable staff are essential to provide a safe school and child care environment for children with diabetes. The child’s parents/guardians and health care provider(s) should work together to provide school systems and child care providers with the information necessary to enable children with diabetes to participate fully and safely in the school and child care setting experiences. This study assessed the knowledge, attitudes, perceptions and awareness of teachers and parents of children with Type 1 diabetes presenting to Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (QECH), Blantyre, Malawi. This study employed a mixed methods research design to data collection, analysis and interpretation integrating qualitative and quantitative approaches. Twenty-three parents attending QECH diabetic children’s clinic in the under-five department and 65 teachers from different primary and secondary schools around Blantyre Urban were interviewed. Majority of the respondents explained that diabetes mellitus was concerned with how overly increased or reduced sugar levels affected the way the body carried out its normal functions.Teachers were more general about the disease, while parents were more particular in defining the disease; 67% of the teachers were willing to host diabetic children in their class compared to 33% who were not willing. It was however clear that the teachers had no confidence in handling such conditions. Fifteen of the 25 parents reported that the school was limited in capacity and expressed concern over their children’s performance. The findings highlight the importance of diabetic education for both the teachers and the parents. The study has identified the need to take into account the major differences between children and their care givers in managing Type 1 Diabetes and also the need to invest considerable amount of efforts and resources aimed at supporting Type 1 diabetic children by establishing school clinics or ensuring the presence of school nurses in schools