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mDiabetes for a Healthy Ramadan

As many Senegalese begin celebrating Ramadan, those with diabetes must be particularly careful fasting and feasting because it can trigger complications, and put their health at risk.

Every year during Ramadan in Senegal, there is a spike in those needing urgent hospitalization due to uncontrolled diabetes. To help solve this problem is mDiabetes, a free service that sends text messages to mobile phones before, during and after the month of Ramadan to give those with diabetes tips and tricks to fasting safely.

Text messages include advice such as,

“Drink one liter of water every morning before you begin fasting.”

“Take care to not overeat and watch out for foods high in sugar such as dates.”

“Ask your doctor to adapt the dose and timing of your diabetes medication before you fast.”

Simple texts like these will help the thousands of people living in Senegal with diabetes, which has increased in the past decade due to rapid urbanization. Obesity in young people has escalated drastically, putting them at risk for type 2 diabetes. It is estimated that four to six percent of the Senegalese population are living with diabetes, at least 400,000 people, yet only 60,000 have been diagnosed.

Part of the difficulty lies in the fact that many are unaware that they even have diabetes since they do not know the causes or symptoms. This is particularly common in rural areas where access to health services is limited.

mDiabetes is part of a campaign by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) called, “Be [email protected] Be Mobile.” Through the use of technology such as text messages and apps, they can “control, prevent, and manage non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.”

Similar programs have been implemented in other countries such as the mCessation program in Costa Rica for tobacco, mCervical cancer program in Zambia and others like mHypoertension and mWellness have been planned for the future.

Eighty-three percent of the Senegalese population have mobile telephones, and 40 percent of those have smart phones, capable of receiving pictures and videos. Utilizing this technology that is becoming increasingly more prevalent in the daily lives of those around the world, is effective way to educate thousands, at no cost to the public.

Thanks to mDiabetes, this Ramadan thousands of Senegalese will be able to fully practice their faith without risking their health.

— Kim Tierney

Sources: World Health Organization, Diabetes and Ramadan International Alliance
Photo: Hong Kiat