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National scheme launched to reduce risk of diabetes in minority ethnic communities

Diabetes UK has launched a national Diabetes Community Champions programme, funded by the Department of Health, to train health workers from minority ethnic  backgrounds to raise community awareness of diabetes risks and complications.

Greater risk

It is vital that people from minority ethnic communities have an understanding of diabetes, because South Asian people are up to six times more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes and people of African Caribbean descent are up to three times more likely, compared to people of a White European background. Also people from minority ethnic communities have a greater risk of developing Type 2 diabetes from the age of 25, compared to age 40 in people of White European descendants.

Training

Diabetes Community Champions learn about the risk factors, symptoms, myths and misconceptions that are prevalent in some cultures. After training they go out into their communities to raise local awareness by holding events, giving talks and encouraging people at high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes to visit their local GP or community pharmacist for a diabetes test. 

Diabetes UK wins grant

The Community Champions scheme has been running successfully in London for two years, training more than 150 health workers and community leaders from a variety of backgrounds including Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Nigerian, Somali and Polish. The Department of Health has now awarded Diabetes UK a grant of £116,000 through the Volunteering Fund National Awards, for the programme to be rolled out across 12 English cities over the next two years.

Reaching out to people within their community

The first training using the Department of Health grant was recently completed in Slough, involving health workers from a variety of ethnic backgrounds. Newly-trained Diabetes Community Champion, Angela Kakur, said,  “My brother, Dad and grandparents all have diabetes, so I’ve become more aware of it and what I need to do, to look after my own health. I can reach out to people of my own age in my local community and spread the word about the risks of developing Type 2 diabetes and the complications that can occur if diabetes isn’t managed well.”

Training is currently taking place in Luton and in Birmingham, and over the next two years it will also cover Leicester, Swindon, Ilford, Liverpool, Knowsley, Manchester, Bradford, Sheffield and Leeds.

Complications

Type 2 diabetes can go undetected for up to ten years, and 50 per cent of people already show signs of complications by the time they are diagnosed. Some of the serious long-term complications include heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, blindness and amputation, if the condition is not managed properly.

More information

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