Global Diabetes Walk 2023 unites 80 countries for a common cause

November marked the 19th Diabetes Awareness Month of the Global Diabetes Walk campaign, and we are thrilled that thousands of people mobilised and inspired others to join the cause.

14 December 2023 Effie Voursouki

World Diabetes Day, celebrated by the Center for Health Promotion and Integrated Development (CHAID) in Uganda

The campaign continued to focus on large-scale outdoor walks and recruiting new Walk Ambassadors - a global community of diabetes advocates who inspire others to embrace physical activity through the simple pleasure of walking. 

The month was filled with hundreds of activities aiming to educate on diabetes prevention. These ranged from hosting community walks and organising educational online sessions to offering free testing and mobilising volunteers or diabetes self-support groups to share informative materials.  

The organisers’ efforts were geared towards raising awareness for a non-communicable disease affecting approximately 537 million adults (20-79 years), according to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF). 

Most of the Walks and health-related activities took place on 14 November, celebrated globally as World Diabetes Day (WDD)

‘Living with diabetes is tough, but you are tougher'  

Dr Edita Blakaj, a Walk Ambassador for Kosovo who works at the Sheikh Zayed Hospital in Vushtrri’s Municipality, walked with her colleagues and arranged many engaging activities for healthcare professionals and citizens, such as free diabetic health services.  

‘Awareness and support for diabetes patients extend beyond medicine, bringing community and healthcare services at the heart of a collective commitment to improving health’, says Dr Edita Blakaj. ‘Living with diabetes is tough, but you are tougher.’

Dr Edita Blakaj and colleagues join the Global Diabetes Walk campaign in Kosovo.

This was also the first time that the 321 Qatar Olympic and Sports Museum joined the campaign as a Walk Ambassador. Dr Samreen Riaz from the University of Punjab and an official Ambassador for Pakistan provided advice to the Museum on how to organise their event.  

In collaboration with the Ministry of Public Health and other key partners, the Museum held the 321-Diabetes Dialogue 2023, with the theme ‘Know your risk, Know your response’ on the eve of WDD. This platform brought together the Qatar community to discuss the rise in the burden of the disease and raise awareness of the primary causes of type 2 diabetes as well as preventative measures.  

They had a creative way of promoting physical activity, by encouraging the community to join the 321 Obstacle Course Race Challenge at the Doha Expo 2023. The Challenge features a range of fun obstacles that test the participants' strength, speed, coordination, and endurance. They have the chance to showcase their running, climbing, jumping, crawling, and balancing skills, or enjoy a family bonding experience.  

Another passionate Walk Ambassador, Dr Tariku Geleshe from Adama, Ethiopia, managed to mobilise young doctors with the support of four facilities sponsoring his campaign (Adama Hospital Medical College, Muse General Hospital, Youth Voice Ethiopia, and Sun Printing Press). They walked between the facilities and the participants provided diabetes education to the community. Approximately 110 people were screened for diabetes that day. 

Dr Tariku Geleshe and colleagues celebrate World Diabetes Day 2023 in Adama, Ethiopia.

On the other side of the Atlantic, in the city of Heroica Veracruz in Mexico, M.E.D. Roberto Velasquez Melgarejo, the director of the bachelor's programme for Sports Education at Universidad Popular Autónoma de Veracruz, organised a Walk and engaged students, speakers, teachers and the public in conversations about diabetes, overweight and obesity. 

‘A first’ for Novo Nordisk Brazil 

Every Walk Ambassador plays a crucial role in empowering local communities to increase their awareness and take action against diabetes. However, it is important to recognise that those hosting walks are making significant contributions even if they are not serving as Ambassadors. They are tirelessly educating and motivating others to exercise and adopt healthier lifestyles.  

Notable examples include Novo Clube at Novo Nordisk's site in Montes Claros, Brazil, Novo Nordisk Taiwan, and the Research Society for the Study of Diabetes in India (RSSDI). 

Guilherme da Silva Fernandes and Ana Paula Monteiro Lima Marques from Novo Clube Brazil partnered up and planned various events for Novo Nordisk employees and their families in the Montes Claros site.  

‘In previous years we arranged health days for glycaemia measuring and running activities; this year, we organised the first Global Diabetes Walk to celebrate WDD, and we opened a Cooper Track and the Novo Clube Runner Club’, say Guilherme and Ana Paula.  

During the day we promoted other activities, such as badminton tournaments and beach tennis, and we invited the kids to play and then gave them official comics explaining diabetes. At the factory, we offered healthy foods in restaurants, and we launched the novohealth Family Program (program for employees and their relatives with diabetes).’ 

Novo Clube of the Novo Nordisk's site in Montes Claros, Brazil, mobilises the community for a variety of sports activities.

Novo Nordisk Taiwan organised this year's Global Diabetes Walk on November 4th, bringing together 2500 participants, including 900 diabetes patients.  

‘Along the walking route, we set up some Spots, allowing attendees to capture their moments with GDW event props for social media sharing. From Novo Nordisk Taiwan a total of 119 employees and their family members participated. On this warm day, we all gathered, driving change in our shared commitment to health.’ shares Julia Liu, Intern for the company.  

At the same time, the RSSDI in India walked at the Kozhikode South Beach. Following their walk, they set up a free medical camp to provide essential medical services related to diabetes. They passionately believe that such community events play a crucial role in educating and supporting individuals in managing their health effectively.

The Research Society for the Study of Diabetes in India (RSSDI) educate on prevention and management, as part of the Global Diabetes Walk celebration.

It has been really rewarding for us at WDF to witness thousands of people supporting our mission to raise diabetes awareness. It is heartening to see many of WDF’s partners among these advocates, embracing our shared purpose.  

Remember, every step and every walk count! 

Finally, here are this year’s Global Diabetes Walk in numbers. We had 268 registered walks worldwide with almost 67,000 participants, and below you can see the regional overview. 

Walks in Africa  

106 walks were held, with 17,278 participants in 28 countries (Algeria, Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Comoros, Congo Brazzaville, Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Maroc, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Somaliland, South Africa, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zimbabwe). 

Largest walk: The Medical Women’s Association of Nigeria with 3,000 participants. 

27 Walk Ambassadors: 

  • Dr Tariku Geleshe (Muse General Hospital, Adama Hospital Medical College), Ethiopia
  • In Memory of Caylee Usher, South Africa
  • Groupe Chrétien Contre le Sida au Togo (GCCST), Togo
  • Diabetic Journal LTD (Esther Banyenzaki Kalanzi), Uganda
  • Center for Health Promotion and Integrated Development (Formerly Mbarara Center for Sports and Health Promotion), Uganda
  • Rwanda NCD Alliance, Rwanda
  • Somalia Diabetes Management and Information Center (SDMI), Somalia
  • Zsports Events SA, South Africa
  • Fit And Healthy Generation, Kenya
  • Diabetes South Africa, Port Elizabeth Branch, South Africa
  • Seeds of Grace Foundation, Liberia
  • Mark Against Diabetes (MAD), Uganda
  • Association burundaise pour la lutte contre le Diabète et l'hypertension artérielle (ABUDIH-MAGARAMEZA), Burundi
  • Ganta United Methodist Hospital and LiNCDA, Liberia
  • Rotaract Club of Medilag Golden, Nigeria
  • Centre for Diabetic foot and Wound care Foundation, Nigeria
  • East Africa NCD Alliance (coordinating six-member alliances within the region)
  • Diabetes Management and Information Centre (DMI), Kenya  
  • Physical Activity Association (PAAT), Tanzania  
  • Mr Amadou Diop, Président de l’Association des Diabétiques de la région de Saint Louis du Sénégal, Sénégal
  • Health Matters Inc., Nigeria
  • Association obésité et de diabète de Côte d’Ivoire (AODCI), Côte d’Ivoire
  • Midlands Diabetes Interest Group, Zimbabwe
  • Christian Homecare Pvt Clinic, Malawi
  • Diabète Bénin, Bénin
  • Largar e crescer ONG, Angola
  • Somali Diabetic World, Somaliland
Diabetes South Africa and ZSports Events during the sports activities organised for the November campaign.

Walks in Europe 

30 walks were held, with 13,397 participants in 14 countries (Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Denmark, Georgia, Ireland, Italy, Kosovo, Macedonia, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and Uzbekistan).  

Largest walk: The Georgian Red Cross Society with 10,000 participants.  

8 Walk Ambassadors: 

  • Association of Diabetics Brcko District BiH, Bosnia and Herzegovina 
  • Udruženje djece i mladih oboljelih od dijabetesa, Bosnia and Herzegovina 
  • Red Cross Society, Armenia 
  • Red Cross Society, Georgia 
  • Welfare Foundation and NCD Alliance, Georgia 
  • Dr. Edita Blakaj, Kosovo 
  • ANEDIA Galicia, Spain 
  • ACES, Romania

Walks in the Middle East and North Africa 

26 walks were held across 9 countries (Algeria, Jordan, Iraq, Morocco, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates) gathering 4,812 participants.  

Largest walk: by Dr Samreen Riaz, Institute of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, University of the Punjab, Pakistan, with 1,000 participants. 

5 Walk Ambassadors 

  • Dr Samreen Riaz, Institute of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics University of the Punjab, Lahore, Pakistan 
  • Prof. Dr Shabeen Naz Masood, Fatima Bai Hospital, Pakistan 
  • Diabetes Association Charsadda pak, Pakistan 
  • Qatar Olympic and Sports Museum, Qatar 
  • Royal Health Awareness Society, Jordan  

Walks in North America and the Caribbean 

30 walks were held in total across 7 countries (Belize, British Virgin Islands, Canada, Haïti, México, St. Lucia, United States of America) and with 2,226 participants. 

Largest walk: The St. Lucia Diabetes and Hypertension Association with 600 participants. 

3 Walk Ambassadors: 

  • People’s Diabetes Foundation-Belize (PDF), Belize 
  • Licenciatura en educacion deportiva, Mexico  
  • BVI Diabetes, British Virgin Islands 

Walks in South and Central America  

32 walks were held with 15,699 participants across 11 countries (Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Honduras, Peru, Uruguay, Venezuela). 

Largest walk: The Fundacion Vida Nueva with 10,000 participants in Colombia.  

5 Walk Ambassadors: 

  • ADICO (Asociación Diabetes y Corazón), El Salvador
  • FUVIDA, Ecuador
  • Fundacion Vida Nueva, Colombia
  • Asociación de Diabetes del Perú, Peru
  • Fundación Rafam Argentina y Rafam Internacional, Argentina 
A participant in the Vida Nueva Walk campaign in Colombia enjoys the outdoor activities.

Walks in Southeast Asia 

34 walks were held across 4 countries (Bangladesh, India, Mongolia, Nepal) and with 9299 participants. 

Largest walk: The Astha Foundation in India with 3,000 participants. 

9 Walk Ambassadors: 

  • Md. Mamun Hassan, Bogra Diabetic Somity, Bangladesh 
  • Piramal Foundation and Anamaya initiative, India 
  • Astha Foundations, India 
  • Dr Rajesh Jain, Diabetes Asia, India 
  • Bhadrak Diabetes Foundation, India 
  • Shri Tulasigirish Diabetes Hospital & Diabetes Research Foundation Bagalkot, India 
  • Naranchimeg Jamiyanjamts, Mongolia 
  • Nepal Development Society, Nepal 
  • Rotaract Club Of KMC, Nepal 
Novo Nordisk Taiwan has been a committed supporter of the Walk campaign.

Walks in Western Pacific

8 walks were held across 8 countries (Australia, Cambodia, Fiji, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mongolia, Philippines, Taiwan) and with 4,021 participants. 

Largest walk: The National Institutes of Health in Malaysia with 500 participants. 

3 Walk Ambassadors: 

  • Novo Nordisk Pharmaceuticals Inc., Philippines 
  • Vietnam Diabetes Educators Association, Vietnam 
  • Hello Health Group - Hello Doctor, Taiwan 

Thank you for uniting with us to help make a difference in fighting diabetes globally! We eagerly look forward to joining forces with you again in 2024! 

Related news