People who live with diabetes in the Muslim community in Wales are being offered help and advice on how to stay healthy during Ramadan – and to mark the occasion safely during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Diabetes UK Cymru has partnered with Cardiff University’s School of Medicine and Diabetes and Ramadan International Alliance (DAR) to run a series of webinars for healthcare professionals and for the Muslim community in Wales, led by Dr Mohammad Alhadj Ali, Clinical Lecturer in Diabetes and Endocrinology.
Healthy Ramadan Cymru will be hosted by Muslim Doctors Cymru and it will be supported by the British Islamic Medical Association (BIMA) and Muslim Council of Wales.
Healthy Ramadan Cymru started before Ramadan with three educational virtual events to support clinicians in primary care and one event to support healthcare professionals working in secondary care in Wales. The campaign will continue during Ramadan with a series of multilingual public webinars to support people living with diabetes in Muslim communities with up-to-date information on staying healthy and managing diabetes when fasting.
First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford will deliver the opening address in the first webinar on Saturday 24 April at 14:00. The webinar in English will be followed by three webinars in Urdu, Arabic and Bengali.
Dr Mohammad Alhadj Ali said: “Estimates suggest that there are 148 million Muslims with diabetes worldwide and up to 79% of Muslims with diabetes fast for at least 15 days in Ramadan.
“Healthy Ramadan Cymru aims to provide healthcare professionals in Wales with the most up-to-date information and guidelines on managing diabetes during Ramadan, as well as supporting Muslims who fast during Ramadan to have a safe and healthy fasting.”
Ramadan runs from 13 April for 29 or 30 days and ends with Eid al-Fitr in May, a religious holiday celebrated by Muslims worldwide.
The Qur'an requires Muslims to fast during the month of Ramadan from sunrise to sunset. There are exceptions and people who are unwell or have medical conditions are not expected to fast, including people with diabetes.
However, some people with diabetes do choose to fast and Diabetes UK Cymru offers the following advice:
- If you are unwell or have any symptoms of COVID-19 - do not fast and call 111 for further advice;
- Seek advice from your GP/diabetes team if you have any queries about fasting;
- If you do choose to fast - before you start, include more slowly absorbed foods (low GI), such as basmati rice and dhal, in your meal along with fruit and vegetables;
- During your fast, if you already check your blood sugar levels, do this more often than usual;
- When you break the fast, have only small quantities of food, and avoid only eating sweet or fatty foods;
- Stay at home when possible and follow current restrictions. Follow social distancing rules if visiting the mosque during this time.
Even though COVID-19 restrictions are being cautiously eased, we are still in a pandemic, which is why Diabetes UK Cymru wants to remind those marking Ramadan to do so safely by adhering to social distancing rules and to avoid unnecessary hospital admissions by fasting in a healthy way.
If you are observing Ramadan and have decided to fast, receiving the coronavirus vaccine does not break your fast. So, please get the vaccine when invited.
The webinars will be livestreamed by Muslim Doctors Cymru on their Facebook Page.