With 33% of diabetes cases still undiagnosed, Abu Dhabi University’s young activists embarked on a strong awareness drive on 19th and 20th November, to coincide with the month of worldwide diabetes awareness. The UAE is among the world’s most affected countries, with 19% of the population having diabetes. Even more alarming is the surge in diabetes within the young generation, with a 100% jump in cases of Type 1 diabetes among children.
To reverse this disturbing trend, ADU students are spreading life-saving awareness through a series of activities co-sponsored by Citi Bank, Slim & Lite and Rite Bite. On 19th November, students and staff wore blue - the universal color of the anti-diabetes fight - and gathered in an Awareness Circle to show their solidarity with the 34 million people who are affected across the region. On 20th November, Imperial College London Diabetes Center delivered an eye-opening presentation at the ADU Auditorium, to shift mindsets and inspire behavioral change. Followed by a Walk-a-thon, encouraging the public to take a collective stand and change their lifestyles.
Dr Nabil Ibrahim, Chancellor of ADU, explained that the activities are part of the institution’s goal of motivating positive change within its community and is one of the many community engagement activities that ADU is organizing as part of its 10th anniversary celebration plans: “Our strength is education, so we are using this to educate our community on how a few simple changes to their lifestyles can save their lives. We believe prevention is always better than cure, and our awareness drive can help the public to reduce their risk of amputations by 10 times. It’s tragic that every 10 seconds diabetes claims another life and another diagnosis, but we are bringing new hope of reversing this trend and empowering people through education.”
The region’s medical experts have raised concern at youths’ widespread adoption of unhealthy habits that multiply the risk of diabetes, such as the deadly combination of diets saturated with sugar and fat, smoking and lack of exercise. In just 12 months, the number of people in the region who have died from diabetes has shot up 30% from 280,000 to 360,000.
Dr Nabil Ibrahim added that the most worrying trend is the ever-decreasing age at which people are diagnosed with diabetes: “Our students are leading the young generation in turning the tide against this disease, especially considering that the UAE population is being diagnosed with diabetes up to 20 years earlier than the global average. With children as young as 16 months now being diagnosed, this proves that it is never too early or too late to take a stand against diabetes. Together we can one day make diabetes a thing of the past.”
To support its awareness campaign, the university spread the message via mass texts, emails, posters and social media posts. Interested participants attended the event or kept a watch out on the process through ADU’s social media platforms.