(Uganda) Atina Glow Initiatives – by Anita K Ninsiima

Atina Glow Initiatives (AGI) is a public health NGO dedicated to advocating for people living with diabetes and other non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in Uganda. I started AGI in September 2019 with the aim of sustaining the livelihoods of people living with these conditions and reducing the incidence of cases. Today, AGI is a women-founded organization in line with the U.N. Sustainable Development Goal (SDG3) and a way for me to use my voice to advocate for people living with NCDs in my community. 

The challenges I faced as a type 1 diabetic for 14 years since childhood motivated me to form AGI: coping with the new lifestyle, managing my daily medications, and dealing with stigma through adolescence, secondary school, university and beyond. Because of all this, I felt I needed to make an extra effort to inspire people out there faced with some of these or even worse challenges and encourage them to live a normal happy and healthy lifestyle. In addition to living with type 1, I have lost friends and family due to NCDs like cancer, hypertension, and diabetes, and through starting the organization I can help to educate the community on control and preventive measures and how to cope with these diseases in life.

It was a shocking experience to receive the news that I have diabetes at a young age. But this didn’t stop me from studying and making it to university with the full support of family and friends. At university, I was always branded a “sickly lady” who would never make it in life, but actually that was what motivated me to stand out and establish AGI as a clear voice for people living with NCDs – which is essential for the community.

In Uganda, NCDs are common and young children and youths have had their own share of the burden. According to World Health Organization statistics, NCDs kill 41 million people each year, equivalent to about 70% of all deaths globally; three-quarters of deaths from NCDs occur in low and middle-income countries. 

Through the AGI slogan “Embracing Ample Health,” we emphasize that good health is a priority for every individual. We engage AGI members in health and development initiatives, creating a safe space and acknowledging and educating this particular group about their health rights as they relate to living with NCDs. On our Facebook page, we seek to bust myths about NCDs and advocate for government support of people living with NCDs during the COVID-19 pandemic. To reduce the burden of living with NCDs, we also advocate for accessibility to optimum healthcare for people throughout Uganda. On the AGI website I shared a personal testimony about my diabetes diagnosis, which taught me the following lessons that I wish to share with others through my work: 

1. Acceptability

2. Adoption

3. Body Discipline

4. Fighting for my body

5. To create a change

Follow Atina Glow Initiatives on Facebook.