25. Mar 2022

Creative campaign sets out to improve diabetes awareness in India

Creative campaign sets out to improve diabetes awareness in India

Julie Buur Traerup
The winning idea from the 2021 Diabetes Storytelling Lab in India is now on the road, educating and diagnosing a neglected yet essential group of Indians – truck drivers.
A driver hits the road after receiving diabetes screening and education services.

In October 2021, a proposal dubbed Ok Tata Horn Please won the Diabetes Storytelling Lab 2021 in India. The team of storytellers and community leaders received $15,000 to turn the idea into reality.

The team behind OK Tata Horn Please targeted a segment of the population that is highly vulnerable to diabetes: long-distance truck drivers. They proposed an animated film series, media broadcasts and health checks to assess truck drivers’ health and increase their diabetes awareness.

Today, they are halfway through implementing their solution, with animated videos based on the character Raju – a truck driver who adopts a healthy lifestyle – now produced. The team is also engaging their target audience through radio shows and social media, producing ‘real hero’ videos with influential truck drivers and holding health screening camps in locations where truck drivers gather. 

The animated videos feature Raju, a driver with healthy habits.

Survey reveals lack of awareness

The team conducted their first health screening camp in collaboration with Max Diagnostics in Delhi in December. The team of two storytellers, two filmmakers and one diabetes expert screened 167 truck drivers and other people involved in the automobile industry. 

Those screened also completed a survey, and the results were striking: 99% of the respondents did not know about diabetes.  Of the people who were screened, nine were diagnosed with diabetes and referred for further tests to confirm their diagnosis.

“We know that in general almost one out of two people with diabetes are unaware that they have it. Even so, the nearly total lack of awareness among the Indian drivers surveyed was striking. This underscores the great need for awareness raising, outreach and support for high-risk target groups,” says WDF Programme Manager Mette Skar.

“This is why WDF engaged in the Storytelling project – we want to support the creation of innovative and creative ways to raise diabetes awareness and enable people to act on the new knowledge by getting tested and referred for care if needed,” she says.

Drivers line up for diabetes screening and information in Delhi.

An exciting journey so far

The team is now looking into the next phase of their project, where the focus will be on producing the final animated videos, filming stories with influential truck drivers and increasing social media reach. A second health screening camp will take place in April. 

“We are very optimistic about the future for of the project and have plans to take it further with multiple stakeholders and partnerships. It has been an exciting journey so far - working for this under-served and unnoticed community. We would like to thank the Diabetes Storytelling Lab which has given us the strength and support to serve them in the best possible way,” says Mridula Kapil Bhargava, a project team member.

The team is seeking local partners to support their effort to generate evidence on the health status and prevalence of non-communicable diseases in the truck driver community. The team’s vision is to use storytelling to raise diabetes awareness and support diabetes monitoring and evaluation, according to Morten Nyegaard, Associate Partner at Dalberg Media.

“We have been very pleased to see how the team has been able to create impact and inform truck drivers with a limited budget and within only a couple of months. The potential of creative storytelling to generate awareness for this group of people, who are at risk and need specific interventions, is evident. We are looking forward to seeing their project progress, and hope others will support their journey,” he says.

The Lab was supported by WDF and Dalberg Media, with support from USAID. Please contact Julie Buur Trærup to connect with the team or hear more about the Storytelling Lab.