Knowledge is Power for People with Diabetes
“I had problems getting my boxing license because of diabetes. Mentally I was down,” recalls Ali, who has lived with diabetes for 20 years. “My mother and father said to me why are you defeating yourself? It woke me up.”
Ali discovered his passion for boxing when he was encouraged to take up a sport to control his diabetes. Despite obstacles and setbacks, he became the first boxer with diabetes in Great Britain to have been granted a professional license. Ali and his story are now an inspiration to other athletes with obstacles to overcome.
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A diabetes diagnosis can be overwhelming, which is why education is important; the more knowledge people have the easier it becomes to accept, understand, and manage the disease; and with type 2 diabetes, maybe even prevent it.
Sanofi has been working for nearly a century to develop therapeutic solutions for diabetes. The ultimate goal is a cure, but in the meantime, Sanofi is working with everyone concerned–from people living with diabetes to patient associations, health care providers, educators, governments and local authorities–to deliver individualized care.
Recognizing that each person is unique and each life is different, Sanofi’s integrated approach includes education, medicine and initiatives to provide better access to health care based on specific needs of individuals.
This year World Diabetes Day puts the spotlight on protecting your family, and to do that Sanofi is raising awareness of the importance of education as key for people with diabetes and their family and friends to prevent, support and better manage the disease.
“My mother was terrified. For her to hear that her child now had this disease, that it was going to be a lifelong disease, and would require continuous treatment and care—she was just beside herself,” says Konner, a 22-year-old Stanford University senior, describing her mother’s initial reaction to the news of her diagnosis when she was a promising pre-teen athlete.
For Konner, living with the condition has at times been difficult and lonely, but she is grateful for her strong support network. “I’ve been really lucky to have supportive family and friends. Some friends even notice if my blood sugar’s low before I do,” she says.
Education is vital
Sanofi and its partners, which include the International Diabetes Federation among many others, have long supported programs that encourage health literacy and diabetes education worldwide.
One of the programs Sanofi participates in is KiDS (Kids with Diabetes in Schools), which aims to educate and foster a supportive environment in schools. So far the program is active in eight countries—Brazil, Egypt, India, Japan, Pakistan, Poland, Hungary and the United Arab Emirates—is set up in 345 schools and uses training materials in 15 languages.
Getting children as well as educators on board helps parents, siblings and other community members become more aware that healthy lifestyles, eating well and exercising regularly, can help prevent type 2 diabetes. It also aims to dispel common mis
-understandings and myths about diabetes and to help accept children who live with the disease. Having fun while learning with resources like this quiz helps the messages sink in faster.
Two statistics underscore the importance of education on prevention and detection:
50 percent of type 2 diabetes is preventable
1 in 2 people with diabetes do not know they have it
The goal is not just to educate but also to work closely with key scientific organizations to normalize diabetes in society.
Sanofi has also joined up with patient groups and medical societies in Spain to create Diguan, a character who helps educate adolescents with type 1 diabetes and their families. Like his target audience, Diguan lives on social media, with accounts on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram. Diguan Summer Camps offer educational and psychological support to adolescent patients.
Giving diabetics the tools to believe in themselves and create support networks, even virtual ones, can make a big difference in their lives.
Education to level the global playing field
The amount of people affected by diabetes is growing at an alarming rate, especially in developing countries. The number of people with diabetes worldwide rose from 108 million in 1980 to 425 million in 2017, according to figures from the IDF. The majority of adults with diabetes–79 percent—live in low- and middle-income countries.
“Education in diabetes is the most important for me,” says Lucy, a physiotherapist from São Paulo who was diagnosed with diabetes.
Sanofi is on the same page and is working to better understand the impact of education and training for health care professionals. Sanofi’s Diabetes Your Type campaign is part of a greater effort to highlight the importance of an individualized approach to diabetes care, through global and local initiatives.
Part of this involves understanding the impact education can have, which is why Sanofi sponsored the International Diabetes Management Practices Study, which spoke to 81,500 people and 6,000 health care professionals in 50 countries. The study found that education has a positive effect, improving engagement and treatment, and reducing diabetes-related complications.
Sanofi is using digital solutions to reach health care workers in more isolated areas such as Africa, where it sponsors E-diabete, an education program that has been distributed since 2009 and reaches more than 22,500 health care professionals across 14 African countries.
Education, shared experiences and family support go a long way in detecting, preventing and improving diabetes management and care.
“Being diabetic…it doesn’t stop you from doing anything in life,” said Ali. “I was over the moon to get my boxing license, people messaged me on Twitter and Instagram saying, ‘You’re an inspiration to us.’ Anything in life is achievable if you educate yourself about your condition. I want to be world champion! Just don’t give up.”
The KiDS Program equips the whole community to provide support