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What is Diabetes?

Diabetes often referred to as “sugar “ in Jamaica is a disease that impairs the body's ability to use food. The hormone insulin (which is made in the pancreas) is needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy needed for daily life. In people with diabetes, either the pancreas doesn't make insulin or the body cannot use insulin properly. Without insulin, sugar - the body's main energy source - builds up in the blood. The cause of diabetes is a mystery, although both genetics and environmental factors such as obesity and lack of exercise appear to play roles. 

The pancreas, an organ near your stomach, produces insulin. The pancreas contains cells called beta cells. Beta cells have a vital job: They make insulin, a hormone that helps cells take in the sugar they need. Sometimes, the beta cells get wiped out and cannot produce insulin anymore. 

There are two major types of diabetes, Type 1 and Type 2.

Type 1 – Most often appears during childhood or adolescence. People with Type 1 diabetes must take daily insulin injections to stay alive. 

Type 2 – Most often appears after age 40. However, it is no longer considered an adult-only disease. Type 2 diabetes is linked to obesity and physical inactivity—both of which can be modified to improve health. 

What are the symptoms of diabetes?

Persons with diabetes may experience either symptoms of high blood sugar or low blood sugar.
People who have high blood sugar might have SOME of the following symptoms:

  • Excessive thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Fatigue
  • Blurred vision
  • Extreme hunger
  • Tingling or numbness in hands or feet
  • Sores that are slow to heal
  • Very dry skin

Persons with Low Blood Sugar might have SOME of the following symptoms:

  • Trembling
  • Dizziness
  • Hunger
  • Sweating
  • Sleepiness
  • Clumsiness
  • Pale Skin
  • Headaches
  • Faint
  • Confusion and irritability


The main goal of the diabetes treatment is to keep blood sugar levels within a target range (not too high, not too low) as much as possible and improve your body’s use of insulin. This means balancing insulin, food, and exercise. Food raises blood sugar levels, while insulin and exercise lower them.


NHF Diabetic Programme

  • Free Glucometer


    Four easy steps to get free devices to help manage your diabetes. 

    Important to note, the NHFCard must be used at least once for your diabetic medications, before ordering or selecting a glucometer and insulin pen of their choice.

    Step 1

    • Decide on the specific device. See the list below. 
    • Seek advice from your medical doctor or pharmacist on the purposes and their use before selecting. 
    • Select Customer Request. 

    Step 2

    • Complete the Online Application Form and provide name, contact number, NHFCard Number, glucometer brand, parish, and a location for easy pick-up. 

    Step 3

    • The NHF Customer Care Department will validate the information to ensure that the beneficiary is enrolled for diabetes. Information will be sent to the distributor of the devices 

    Text messages will be sent at each stage of processing.

    Step 4

    • The distributor of the devices will contact the applicant to determine where and when the delivery shall be made.


    • Accu-Check Instant Kits - Lasco
    • Accu-Check Active - Lasco
    • Advocate Redi-Code+ (plus) Blood Glucose Monitoring System – Qualcare
    • Advocate Redi-Code+ (plus) Blood Glucose Monitoring System – Servi-Care
    • Caresens N- Jamaica Hospital Supplies
    • Caresens N Mini- Jamaica Hospital Supplies
    • Freestyle Optium Glucometer - Massy Distribution
    • Freestyle Precision Glucometer - Massy Distribution
    • Goodlife AC-300- Qualcare
    • Humapen - Health Brands Ltd. (Medigrace)
    • Medisign MM800 Auto- Facey Commodity
    Standard Diagnostics (SD) Code Free Glucometer - Recharged Distributors

    NB. NHF beneficiaries are entitled to a glucometer every two years.
    In the event of malfunction or other difficulty, beneficiaries must contact the distributor for assistance.

    For further information, call the NHF Customer Care Department 1-888-DIAL-NHF (342-5643) or 906-1106


  • A1C Test and Participating Providers

    What is the A1C Test?

    The A1C test measures the average  amount of sugar that has been in your blood over the last three months. This is done by taking a small sample of  blood and measuring the amount of glucose in the blood cells. 

    The A1C Test providew valuble informations about:

    • Your average blood sugar levels  for the past three months.
    • Your risk for developing  long-term complications from diabetes, such as eye, kidney and nerve damage.

    Why should I have an A1C Test?

    An A1C test is the best way for your doctor to determine if your blood sugar is under control. The test shows if your blood sugar level is normal or too high.

    What is a good A1C testing goal?

    The A1C goal for people with diabetes is less than 7 percent. At this level, your treatment plan is probably working and it indicates that your blood sugar is under control.

    What happens if your A1C is high?

    A high A1C (greater than 7 percent) means that you have a higher risk of developing eye, kidney diseases and nerve damage. If this is so, you may need to consult your physician in order to reduce the glucose level and the risk of complications.

    How often do I need an A1C test?

    Ask your doctor. You may need to do the test more often if your blood sugar stays too high or if your doctor makes any changes to your treatment plan.



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Contact Us

National Health Fund
The Towers, 6th Floor
25 Dominica Drive, Kingston 5



Tel: (876) 906-1106 / (876) 906-4381
Tel: 1-888-DIAL-NHF (342-5643)

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