Faith fights diabetes

Our University has joined a community group in Leicester to fight diabetes. Members of the Dawoodi Bohra Community have organised a diabetes awareness walk in Victoria Park on Sunday 25 March.

The diabetes walk is a multi-faith, cross-community event for everyone from Leicester and further afield and is expected to have a large turnout on the day. The community aims to raise £25,000 working in association with the University, as well as Silver Star, Diabetes UK, Leicester Diabetes Centre and the Diabetes Village.

Dr Murtaza Salem, Honorary Lecturer in Cardiovascular Sciences at the University and Vascular Surgery Specialist Registrar at Leicester’s Hospitals, is one of the organisers of the event which has already raised nearly £15K. He said: “Our community in Leicester is small but we are keen to make a difference to the country and community we live in. This is one of our many projects to increase awareness about diabetes and we hope people will join us to make this day a success.”

In addition to raising awareness on diabetes, the event will also be fundraising for diabetes related charities. The event has received great support from Mayor Peter Soulsby, Leicester City Council, Police Chief Constable Simon Cole, Keith Vaz MP, the Dean of Leicester’s Medical School, the chair of the Leicester Diabetes Centre, Diabetes UK and Silver Star.

There has also been widespread support from different faith communities- including Christian, Sikh, Hindu, Muslim, and Jewish communities all of whom have supported the event. De Montfort University have also shown their support and will be in attendance to showcase their own research in diabetes. In this way the whole community has come together in support of this event.

It is hoped the walk in Victoria Park, Leicester will raise awareness of diabetes, encourage people to get themselves tested, promote healthy diet and lifestyle to reduce the risk of diabetes, whilst raising funds for diabetes including raising funds for the new Diabetes Village in Leicester.

The community is currently building a purpose-built mosque off Loughborough Road in Leicester.  A pre-opening event was recently attended by Professor Paul Boyle, President and Vice-Chancellor and other representatives from the University.

Professor Davies CBE, Professor of Diabetes Medicine at Leicester and Co-Director of the Leicester Diabetes Centre, said: “The diversity of Leicester is something we celebrate and embrace. It is because of this that our multi-cultural city has become the first UK to become part of a global campaign to improve the prevention and management of type 2 diabetes. We are passionate about improving the health of our community and promoting physical activity and walking is a really important and practical initiative for all of our communities.

“The Cities Changing Diabetes programme is a partnership programme initiated by Novo Nordisk in response to the dramatic rise and link between diabetes and urbanisation. We will work with stakeholders and other member cities to drive up awareness, education and treatment across our city.”

Professor Kamlesh Khunti, Professor of Primary Care Diabetes and Vascular Medicine at the University and also Co-Director of the Leicester Diabetes Centre, said: “The importance of delivering culturally-sensitive health care is well recognised, which is why collaborated events like this which target different communities is so important. It’s estimated that south Asians are two to three times likely to develop Type 2 diabetes than Europeans, and with Leicester being such an ethnically and culturally diverse city it’s crucial we lead the way in educating those who are at great risk of developing the condition.

“Only 50 per cent of the city’s 340,000-population identify themselves as being of white ethnicity, compared with an average of 87 per cent across the rest of the UK. With the high numbers speaking for themselves, we hope this event will help attract the right people, showing them it’s not too late to introduce small changes to their lives, which could make a big difference to their health.”