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Scheme launched to train ethnic Diabetes Community Champions

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

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 than people of a White European background. South Asians with diabetes are also three times more likely to have heart disease.

People of African Caribbean descent are up to three times more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes.

South Asian and Black people are more at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes over the age of 25, rather than over 40 in the rest of the population. South Asian men are also at increased risk when their waist measures more than 25 inches, as opposed to more than 27 inches in other men.

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.

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.
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.

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.

Take an online risk assessment for Type 2 diabetes at: www.diabetes.org.uk/riskscore.

Diabetes information in more than 20 different languages is available to download from: www.diabetes.org.uk/Other_languages.
 

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