MENA

Erum Ghafoor

Living with type 2 diabetes and a consultant diabetes educator, public health specialist and global advocate, she calls for an urgent pragmatic approach to tackle the diabetes epidemic.

I have been living with type 2 diabetes 2005. I was overweight due to some medical issues since childhood. A quack had suggested that I consume a glass of honey and lemon juice daily to reduce weight and I blindly followed him – which became the last nail in the coffin, as I already had insulin resistance and the use of excessive honey stressed out my pancreas.

I was lucky enough to afford the medicines I was prescribed, unlike most of the people with diabetes in Pakistan, who have inadequate access to health care facilities

My family and diabetologist Professor Abdul Basit (IDF President, Middle East and North Africa Region) have motivated me a lot, and have paved the way for me to become diabetes educator. Professor Basit used to say "you should become someone who can understand medical problems as well as emotions of people with diabetes". And that is how I started the journey from being a patient to become a health care provider. Now, I am a consultant diabetes educator and public health specialist. I served as a faculty member in the IDF Young Leaders in Diabetes programme and am now working as a global advocate.

I am from Pakistan, a nation in which over a quarter of the population over 20 years of age has type 2 diabetes. This is just one of countries that make up the Middle East and North Africa Region, which is currently home to an estimated 55 million people with diabetes. Lack of properly trained health workers, weak government support and far from satisfactory public awareness about diabetes and its long-term consequences are just some of the major problems in our society. Failure to screen for complications of diabetes at the appropriate time also leads to many chronic problems and over-burdening our already strained health care system. We urgently need a pragmatic approach to tackle the diabetes epidemic.

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