Sidra Medicine, a member of Qatar Foundation, has successfully established its Type 1 diabetes (T1D) treatment protocol, based on the effective use of an insulin pump, for children and young people as a best practice model.

The pump, which is a hybrid closed-loop system, acts as an artificial pancreas to help children and young people with T1D control their insulin dosage, without the need for multiple daily injections. Based on an initiation schedule developed in-house at Sidra Medicine, the protocol also allows for remote follow up care.

The protocol was launched two years ago as a pilot programme by Prof Goran Petrovski, an attending physician of paediatric endocrinology and his team at the Diabetes Clinic at Sidra Medicine. It follows a step by step process and initiation schedule for the hybrid closed-loop, provided by a multidisciplinary team of endocrinologists, nurse educators, dietitians and nurses. Since its implementation, it has fast-tracked the treatment process of nearly 100 children and teenagers with T1D being cared for at the hospital’s diabetes clinic.

The first step of the protocol involves the children and teenagers being assessed for eligibility and compatibility with the closed-loop system. They then undergo training for five consecutive days, where both patient and family are provided consistent information and support. The patient first trials the system on manual mode – before it is switched to automatic mode. The whole transfer from “injection to pump” process can be achieved in ten days.

Prof Petrovski said, “Hospitals worldwide follow different protocols in diabetes management depending on the treatment, technologies and the ease and access to insulin. As a result of the work that was achieved in Qatar at Sidra Medicine, we are now in a position to be considered as a best practice centre that showcased the most effective use of the hybrid closed-loop. Our protocol was able to prove that we are truly empowering the children to have better glycemic control and improving their quality of life, all within a matter of days. Given the current circumstances and safety measures about social distancing, the protocol is effective as we can provide remote follow up care without expecting families to come in to the clinic.”

“We recently published the results of our protocol in Acta Diabetologica and presented it at several international conferences a few months ago. We have many children’s hospitals from neighbouring countries and as far as Europe and Australia, reaching out to us to find out how they can implement the protocol. In fact, Qatar is the first Middle Eastern country to successfully show the best results in using the closed-loop system with our treatment protocol program,” continued Prof Petrovski.

Previously, patients in Qatar had to travel abroad to the US to be implanted with the closed-loop system, often having to wait a long time before gaining access to the device. Other drawbacks included slower international administrative processes, delays in educating parents and complex international insurance policies.

“Prior to Sidra Medicine establishing the protocol, there were no support services and education materials available especially in Arabic to closely, regularly and safely monitor the children using a closed-loop system. This is a critical part of the protocol process so that they can receive accurate feedback and get help immediately – whether in the clinic or remotely. Families now have access to a 24/7 hotline available in English and thanks to our efforts in Qatar, also in Arabic, set up by the vendor of the system,” concluded Prof Petrovski.

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