25. Oct 2016

Kerala says kNOw diabetes

Anna Knauer Elley
WDF partner continues to raise the bar for the Global Diabetes Walk campaign, mobilising thousands of people in the fight against diabetes.
Dr. Vijayakumar (second from left) leading the main kNOw Diabetes Walk in Kerala.
Each year, Medical Trust Hospital and Diabetes Care Centre exceeds all expectations for their contribution to the Global Diabetes Walk campaign. Their 2015 kNOw Diabetes Walk campaign was no exception. 
By organising 800 Walks across the state of Kerala, India, the kNOw Diabetes campaign managed to mobilise more than 96,000 participants, earning itself the title of  biggest Walk organiser in the history of the Global Diabetes Walk campaign. But where did all of this begin? Dr. Vijayakumar, the facilitator of the campaign, tells the inspiring story. 
As a project partner to WDF12-0717, a diabetes prevention and control project in Kerala starting in 2008, Dr Vijayakumar decided to take an active part in the Global Diabetes Walk. To explore the possibility of expanding current events on World Diabetes Day in Kerala, Dr Vijayakumar decided to collaborate with the Higher Secondary Department of Government of Kerala. 
With this new collaboration in place, Dr Vijayakumar managed to organise hundreds of Walks in higher secondary schools mobilising thousands of students, parents and teachers. In addition, local people were given the opportunity to participate in a state-level Walk across Kozhikode. 
“The involvement of students, teachers, parents, media persons and officials helps very much in carrying the message to the community,” Dr Vijayakumar says, adding the intention of the Walk was to activate the local community in the fight against diabetes – starting with the new generations. 
The time is now
The prevalence of diabetes is rapidly increasing in the state of Kerala. Pointing to recent studies showing a prevalence of 20% in the adult population, to Dr Vijayakumar says the time is now to make a change.
Hoping to reverse this development, Dr Vijayakumar says he is counting on the citizens of Kerala to take active part in the kNOw Diabetes campaign by making positive changes in their lifestyle. “Diabetes being a lifestyle disease can be managed and prevented by making lifestyle changes, mainly by increasing physical exercise and making dietary adjustments”.
Dr. Vijayakumar is convinced that the Global Diabetes Walk campaign offers a great platform for getting even more people to join the fight against diabetes. 
This year, Dr Vijayakumar and his team are planning a broad range of activities from 1st to 14th of November. The activities are set to culminate on World Diabetes Day, on which hundreds of Walks will be conducted across the state of Kerala. “This year, we hope to have a maximum participation and media coverage. We also hope even more people will benefit through the Walk campaign”.
Dr Vijayakumar’s 3 tips for Walk organisers:
1. Form an organising team – setting up an organising team allows you to allocate areas of responsibility
2. Communicate in advance – inform local authorities and public institutions about your upcoming event
3. Focus on publicity and promotion –contact local radio, television and web channels to get your message out.