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Date: 4 August 2021

Time: 01:20

Image: Professor Wasim Hanif, Consultant Physician at UHB and Chair, SAHF Diabetes Working Group

Consultant helps launch new diabetes report

Story posted/last updated: 28 October 2014

A new report published by the South Asian Health Foundation (SAHF) highlights that misunderstanding of diabetes in the South Asian community can be addressed by culturally appropriate education programmes.

The report shows how initial assumptions and fears about the condition can be challenged by tailored community engagement events featuring debate and ‘Meethi Baatein’ (Sweet Talk), a short film on the risk factors of type 2 diabetes.

The report was launched in the House of Lords by the Secretary of State Health Jeremy Hunt, who praised the efforts of SAHF in raising the awareness among the community about diabetes.

Professor Wasim Hanif, Consultant Physician in Diabetes and Endocrinology at University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust (UHB) and Chair of the SAHF Diabetes Working Group, said: “Our report sets out a number of recommendations that will help transform the lives of people living with diabetes and their close families.

“We saw that many South Asian communities embraced the idea of exercise classes, and there is considerable scope to deliver rapid lifestyle and dietary changes through simple messaging on easy changes that is visually expressed.

“The changing attitudes suggest that now is the time for healthcare commissioners, HCPs and the third sector to focus efforts on delivering effective interventions.”

Currently there are 388,000 people with type 2 diabetes of South Asian heritage in the UK. They constitute one eighth of the total diabetes population of the country. Not only is diabetes common in this community but the risk of complications is much higher.

Drawing on lessons learned from the community education events organised by SAHF, the report ‘South Asian community health education and empowerment in diabetes’ identified evidence of the beginning of a shift in attitude towards diabetes. In addition to a general increase in levels of awareness of the risks of diabetes and its complications, SAHF event staff experienced a new and real willingness to share experiences and concerns beyond immediate family.

Type 2 diabetes is a key health risk for people of South Asian origin:

  • They are between three and six times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes when compared to white Europeans
  • An estimated 388,000 people of South Asian origin have type 2 diabetes, which can lead to further complications such as heart disease
  • People of South Asian origin tend to develop diabetes at an earlier age, with an associated increase in the risk of disease-related complications
  • Traditional South Asian cultural factors can also impact the management of diabetes

Targeting all the main cultures across the South Asian community, some eleven events were hosted by SAHF and local organisations in community centres, temples and GP practices, from Glasgow to London. Sponsored by Novo Nordisk, the events aimed to address issues of awareness and understanding of diabetes across the ‘at risk’ populations in South Asian communities in the UK.

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