From Syria to Sydney

Friday, 12 June 2020

Hussein has happily agreed to share his story of living with type 1 diabetes and fleeing his home country, Syria, to build a new life in Australia.

Hussein was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes 16 years ago. Until now, at the age of 44,  Hussein has struggled with this his blood glucose levels (BGLs).

In Syria, he did not have the same access to services and care he now has in Australia and he found it difficult to manage his BGLs. There were long waiting lists to see specialists and it was very costly. He lacked access to medications, blood glucose meters and strips to help him manage his BGLs.

Once he arrived to Australia, he was linked in with his local diabetes clinic at Mt Druitt Hospital, which he now attends regularly. He sees an endocrinologist every two, four or six months depending on his BGLs. He is grateful to now be able to visit an accredited practising dietitian who helps him with meal planning and understanding how food choices can impact his diabetes management. In Syria he did not have access to this same support.

Hussein is now registered with the National Diabetes Services Scheme (NDSS) and uses continuous blood glucose monitoring, rather than a blood glucose meter, which he finds easier to track his BGLs. This is especially important for him when he is outdoors as it limits the chances of having a hypoglycaemic episode.

Some of the challenges Hussein initially encountered when he arrived in Sydney was the ability to access mainstream health services because he was unfamiliar with the Australian health system, and faced language and cultural barriers. He found it difficult to locate some of the services and adjust to new healthcare systems, which differed greatly from that in Syria.

In light of Refugee Week, Hussein would like to share some of his recommendations regarding diabetes management. He emphasises the need for prevention – making healthier food choices, and having an active lifestyle. Hussein also stresses the importance of regular blood glucose monitoring practices. He monitors his blood glucose levels regularly and, like many others, feels frustrated when his results are not within the target ranges. However, he does find regular monitoring helpful in understanding his diabetes. He also recommends visiting a doctor every three to six months for the routine ‘average blood glucose’ test (HbA1c), to assist further with diabetes management and preventing complications.

For more information on health services please see below:

To access refugee healthcare services in Australia visit: https://www.swslhd.health.nsw.gov.au/refugee/.

For refugee health networks such as the women’s health working group visit: https://www.swslhd.health.nsw.gov.au/refugee/whwg.html

To access a wide range of multicultural resources and information in your language see: https://www.ndss.com.au/about-diabetes/information-in-your-language/

Interpreters are available

When discussing health information don’t forget you can access an interpreter if you need to. When booking into a health appointment let the team know you need an interpreter and your preferred language. Over-the-phone interpreters are available to help. Call Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS) on 131 450 and tell them your preferred language. To access interpreter services: https://www.tisnational.gov.au/

 

 

Hussein spoke to Accredited Practising Dietitian Dyala Al Jabi

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