Diabetes fight birthed from loss of parent
Duncun Motanya was just 28 years old when his father died of diabetes in 2013. It was a family tragedy, which left behind severe emotional and financial distress.
But prior to his passing on, Motanya shares how the family learnt of his father’s health condition in a traumatic fashion that left them all baffled. “We learnt about his diabetic condition in an outlandish way.
He had been involved in a motorcycle accident, which left a serious wound on one of his legs.
We then took him for a medical check-up and regrettably it was revealed he had diabetes upon running several tests on him after his sugar levels shot,” reveals Motanya in a recent interview.
Owing to his medical background as a remedial nurse, Motanya believes his father would have savoured the knowledge in his professional training to detect his condition early enough —only that it was too little too late.
“Eventually his leg was surgically detached from him. He briefly felt better, but ultimately succumbed to congestive heart failure, one of the conditions caused by lack of proper management of diabetes,” narrates Motanya.
The 36-year-old recounts how that life experience left a devastating impact not only on the family resources, but predominantly on him — even though it is a phase he concedes gave birth to a noble idea he relishes today.
“I sat back and began to research more on diabetes and the more I read about the disease, the more I discovered that there is more to it than just the treatment aspect, but information and the management thereof,” he says.
And so, in 2014, Motanya who is a certified diabetes educator started a private support group called Diabetes and Hypertension Support Group Kenya, which garnered over 13,000 members and an online page he started in 2014 called Kenya Diabetes Management Centre and Pharmacy, which has more than 101,000 followers to date.
With that, Motanya registered a community based oranisation (CBO)and opened a small roomed outlet in Ruiru, Kiambu county using meager resources from his savings and small funding from friends.
The sole purpose was helping create awareness on diabetes and how to manage it among the growing CBO fan base.
However, this noble idea would later overwhelm him and his team as more requests were now inclined towards testing and treating of the disease.
But they had no required licensing and documentations to operate a fully-fledged pharmacy and medical centre for diabetic patients.
“I used to live in Ruiru where we operated in a small room until year 2020. We would get so many inquires at the time, which prompted the idea to get necessary licensing to run a proper pharmacy for the services we were offering such as selling diaetes test strips,” narrates Motanya who went to Nyambaria Boys High School, Nyamira and St Stephens High schools, Kisii.
He would later approach a former schoolmate – a lab technician, with whom he jointly opened a pharmacy and a medical laboratory personalised for the diagnosis and testing of diabetes.
“My former schoolmate and I roped in my cousin who is a qualified and certified medical officer. We decided to be deliberate in our services.
We paid all the due licenses and documents needed to run a medical centre and a pharmacy and we took off in January 2020,” he reveals.
The same month, the three started Diabetes Management Medical Centre, Pharmacy and Laboratory (DMMC), an online pharmacy and Diabetes Care Centre in Ngara. They embarked on a tedious process of hiring staff, procuring medical equipment among other activities.
The idea, according to Motanya who is a director at the facility was to empower diabetic patients and not to make crazy profit margins, a medical centre he proudly says is built from a patient’s perspective.
“We approached a faith-based organisation called Mission for Essential Drugs and Supplies (MEDS) with the idea.
The organisation understood our approach and agreed to come through for us in terms of giving us medicines at affordable prices,” narrates Motanya who pursued a higher diploma in Marketing, Communication and Media Studies.
Motanya – who is also the current chief executive of a local fintech, Zenka – a mobile lending institution, admits it was a demanding decision for the trio who were fulltime employees in their respective companies.
Changing one life at a time
“We had to make a choice, and we did, and here we are today attending to hundreds of patients who walk into our facilities and are able to be assisted by our team of experts and nutritionists.
We are changing one life at a time,” narrates a fulfilled Motanya – whose future ambition is to elevate the facility into a hospital in the near future.
Presently, DMMC has six active WhatsApp groups where patients share their life experiences with their medical experts.
This, he says goes a long way in mitigating humiliation associated with the disease. “Here, patient information is safe guarded,” he says.
Diabetes is a disease that occurs when your blood glucose, also called blood sugar, is too high.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that the prevalence of diabetes in Kenya is at 3.3 per cent and predicts a rise to 4.5 per cent by 2025. However, two-thirds of diabetics may be undiagnosed.
Adults and children with type 1 diabetes spend an average of Sh53,907 a year out-of-pocket for health care or about Sh8,000 monthly, but insulin isn’t always the biggest expense, according to Motanya, who reckons that the facility charges almost half of that.
And as the world readies to mark, World Diabetes Day and Diabetes Awareness Month next month, Motanya encorages Kenyans to live a healthy lifestyle, while also urging the government to extend tax incentives to Kenyan companies in order to make costs of treatment attainable.