And preaches against poor eating habits
A near-death encounter with diabetes five years ago has jolted Chaka Pius Zulu into action to spread information on the disease and fundraise to support diabetes treatment centres.
In 2010, Chaka fainted and was later diagnosed with diabetes mellitus, type 2 and since then, he has passionately embarked on seeking and sharing information about the disease.
His resolve to embark on this mission was strengthened after the death of his mother in July 2012 due to a stroke attributed to diabetes and a heart condition.
Chaka set out to walk through four provinces namely Lusaka, Central, Copperbelt and North-Western, covering a total distance of 600 kilometres. He aims to raise K1.2 million at the rate of K2,000 per kilometre in corporate donations.
Further prospects are to walk through Southern, Eastern and Northern provinces annually during the diabetes month.
The campaign is aptly known as Sweet Walk for Diabetes since the disease is associated with sugar, the reason people in Zambia commonly refer to it as ‘sugar disease.’
It is a humble initiative originated by Zulu. The Diabetes Association of Zambia (DAZ) has adopted the methodology and has planned an event to raise funds for the diabetes awareness. “Walking for diabetes is a perfect time for information sharing awareness on the ‘silent killer’ and as such all efforts and dedication should be poured into this activity by the key players.
“This is to ensure that the initiative captures the attention and hearts of individuals who do not know or are sadly suffering due to lack of information,” Chaka says.
The general objective of the campaign, coming under the theme Healthy Eating and Diabetes, is to create awareness, fundraise and donate to organisations and health centres whose objectives are in line with the mission to neutralise the disease.
The DAZ says the campaign comes “at a time when many people are for the most part non-exercisers, and are steeped in poor eating habits, especially in the light of the fast foods that have flooded Zambia.”
Diabetes is a common life-long incurable health condition in a group of metabolic diseases where the amount of glucose in a human body is too high and cannot be used properly because the pancreas is not producing any or enough insulin to process the glucose for energy.
As of 2014, an estimated 387 million people worldwide were living with the condition, and more than 70 percent of those did not know about it. This resulted in 1.5–4.9 million deaths each year. The situation in Zambia is not different, as 267, 000 cases of diabetes were recorded in 2014.
Most people in Zambia are unaware of the signs and symptoms of diabetes, and the types.
“Unfortunately, even some medical practitioners misdiagnose cases of hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia due to lack of testing kits. The largest majority of those affected lose their lives since they are mostly put on wrong medication, mostly malaria treatment,” Chaka laments.
He adds: “Therefore, what is required at this level is not primarily focusing on awareness programmes, but rather enhancing access and availability to equipment and reagents for service providers and facilities.”
Rural health centres are mostly affected because they experience high levels of diabetes cases but lack laboratory equipment, rapid test kits and even treatment as they are not stocked with adequate diabetes medication.
Most cases of high and low sugar levels include no periodic health checks, bad eating habits, alcohol abuse, illiteracy and misinformation.
The campaign plans to secure space in the print media to publish a daily update on the walk, and to feature on health talks on ZNBC TV1, TV2, Radio 2 and other most-listened-to radio stations.
T-shirts, caps and diabetes IEC material such as flyers and brochures will be distributed. Also on the cards is the use of SMS alerts through mobile service providers.– Feature courtesy of SUMA SYSTEMS.