For the second year in a row, the Columbia Asia Hospital in Kuala Lumpur is planning a Walk under the name “Walk for Cure” to celebrate the World Diabetes Day. The Walk will take place on 17 November and the organisers expect 3,000 participants.
Fundraising for children
The Walk will be a fundraising event, where each person walking will donate RM$15 (4,8 USD) and get a free t-shirt and a goodie bag in return. The money will be donated to the Children’s Fund of Malaysia Diabetes Association and spent on providing needles, lancets and other needed tools to poor children suffering from type 1 diabetes in Malaysia.
Diabetes checkpoints en route
The event will begin at 8 a.m. with a warm up session by Columbia Asia’s physiotherapists. This will be followed by a welcome speech by the Minister of Health, Datuk Seri Dr. S Subramaniam. The Walk route is 3,6 km long and the walkers will have the opportunity to learn about diabetes along the way. Eli Lilly staff and Columbia Asia pharmacists will answer queries while playing along with the diabetes conversation maps. The team will use four checkpoints placed around the park with a diabetes education booth.
Upon registration, each participant will receive an empty puzzle frame, and will have to collect 4 pieces of the puzzle at each checkpoint. Upon completion of the puzzle, Columbia Asia will donate an extra RM$10 (3,2 USD) to Malaysia Diabetes Association.
Using social media for youth
In an attempt to involve youth in the diabetes awareness campaign, five universities are participating in a video contest named “Diabetes and Me”. The objective of the contest is to spread the message about the fight against diabetes through viral media. Columbia Asia will upload the submitted videos to their Facebook page and YouTube channel and the three videos with most likes and shares will win the contest. The winners will be announced at the end of the Walk and each winner will be handed RM$ 1,000 (318 USD) by the CEO of Columbia Asia.
In general, social media is being given a special focus this year to reach a young target group. Besides the video contest, Facebook and Twitter is being used to share articles about lifestyle, diet, health and medical issues. In addition, the printed media will run an editorial featuring doctors, spokespersons and children living with diabetes.
Reversing the trend
Around 2.1 million people in Malaysia, corresponding to a 12% prevalence, are estimated to have diabetes in 2012 (IDF Diabetes Atlas, fifth edition). This places Malaysia well above the regional average prevalence of 8,3% for the Western Pacific Region
“In general, the population knows about type 2 diabetes and associates it with obesity,” says Natalie Seroux, Regional Marketing Manager of the Columbia Asia Group of Hospitals. “Yet, many have very bad food habits. People rarely eat at home in Malaysia. When eating out, the options are either the local food, which is very greasy, or fast food, which has become a trend among teenagers. They all know it is bad for health but no action is being taken. When asked, teenagers admit they don’t eat breakfast, only eat fast food, love sweets and soft drinks, do not exercise and have a sedentary life style,” she says.
For this reason, Malaysia Diabetes Association has sent a doctor to the universities to talk about diabetes and the “Walk for Cure” campaign. “We strongly believe that the video contest is a good way to engage and inform teenagers. And I hope we are creating a trend; that we are beginning something,” Seroux states.