The Nigeria Diabetes Online Community (NGDOC) is a non-governmental, non-profit making organization founded by Hakeem Olamide Adejumo and Odewale Halima Ibironke in 2012 after the notable work and achievement of the global diabetes online communities around the world. The level of knowledge, awareness, attitude and care for Diabetes in Nigeria was low and as such the NGdoc was established to act as an educative, promotion tool using the social peer support platform for People living with diabetes, Caregivers, families and friends.
Bimbola Segun-Amao spoke with Dr Hakeem Adejumo about the organization.
Why did you start the organization?
Currently, according to the International Diabetes Federation Atlas 6th Edition 2013 an estimated 19.8 million adults in Africa have diabetes – a regional prevalence of 4.9%. Nigeria has the highest number of people living with diabetes in Africa (3.9 million) and about 1.8 million cases are undiagnosed. An estimated 522,600 people in Africa died from diabetes-related causes in 2013. 105, 091 of these occurred in Nigeria. 76% of deaths due to Diabetes Mellitus in Africa occur before the age of 60.
These figures are alarming and steadily rising, and unless we actively work together to educate people about diabetes, the burden of the disease especially in Nigeria will continue to rise.
Having been privileged to be mentored by wonderful Lecturers at the Olabisi Onabanjo University Teaching Hospital in the Likes of Prof Ogun – a consultant neurologist, Prof Alebiosu – a consultant Nephrologist, Dr Odusan – a consultant endocrinologist and Dr. Mrs Fetuga – a consultant paediatric endocrinology we were exposed to a lot of community health activities, research works and scientific presentations both locally and internationally.
Part of our findings at community level revealed poor awareness among the populace and even wrong information among few of those who claim to be aware of diabetes.
There is then a need for complementary efforts to existing institutions aimed at addressing these issues. In 2012 at the final year medical hostel of the Olabisi Onabanjo University, Sagamu Odewale Halima, Dauda Mobolaji, Rosiji Kolawole and I decided due to the low level of knowledge, awareness, attitude and care for people living with diabetes in Nigeria to start off an organization that serves as an educative, promotive tool using the social peer support platform for People living with diabetes, Caregivers, families and friends. We then became the first set of directors for NGdoc.
How has the journey been Hakeem?
It’s been 3 years with tremendous progress being made both at the community level and international platforms.
The social media platform gave us a border-less advantage and more youth involvement translating our works from strictly online to both offline and online. We have over 30 volunteers that run our activities.
As a member of the Global Diabetes Online Community we have enjoyed the mentoring of globally renowned organizations who have provided supportive roles to our activities; few among these organizations are The International diabetes federation, The Diabetes Community Advocacy Foundation, The Diabetes Hand Foundation, The Australia Diabetes Online community and The Great Britain diabetes online Community.
Our activities in the past few years have ranged from raising youth diabetes advocates, free healthy living campaigns to various communities, advocating for access to insulin, community based health awareness and diabetes screening and support to people living with diabetes in Nigeria.
We currently are a part of the Access Alliance an alliance of a network of charities and organizations working together to advocate for access to healthcare, education, insulin and medical supplies for people living with type 1 diabetes worldwide.
We have enjoyed support from various organizations both within and outside the country eg Chevron Nigeria sponsored 3 of our volunteer researchers to attend the world diabetes congress in Australia and Eli Lilly Pharmaceuticals through the Africa diabetes congress sponsored 2 volunteers to attend a post graduate research course and the 2nd Africa diabetes congress in Yaounde, Cameroon. We also are in partnership with The Talabi Diabetes Center and the Ogun state ministry of health in raising youth diabetes advocates across Ogun state.
Our activities have been rewarding and we have been recognized by WEGO Health Awards as a community health hero nominee and our co founder Haleema Odewale was a Leap Africa Social Innovator Fellow and award recipient for the year 2014.
Our most recent activity is Diabetes Warrior Project an initiative of T1international-an organization that aims at providing support for children living with type 1 diabetes in resource poor settings (more of their activities can be found here www.t1international.com). The diabetes warrior project will train children with Type 1 in Nigeria on vocational skills which will help them become self reliant and ultimately afford their medications.
The Nigeria Diabetes Online Community is funded by individual donors and organizations that identify with our cause. However, in the near future, we are looking at the possibility of financial partnerships and grants.
Due to the high demand for social peer support for people living with diabetes by Nigerians, and the high population who are neither online nor on any social media platform we had to also take our activities offline while maintaining our works online.
Do you have diabetic people walk up to you and disclose their ailments or how do people join the community. What do you do for them?
Yes, people walk up to us having been diagnosed of diabetes and also a lot have been recommended to us by families, friends and endocrinologists.
Our support plans include education, awareness creation – we strongly believe in prevention of type 2 diabetes especially among population at risk.
Our empowerment plans includes support which could be inform of peer supports, financial support, procurement of insulin for those in dire need and linking those in established need with our financial partners interested in supporting them.
Hakeem and friends at Walk For Diabetes in Cameroon
What’s the future of the community?
The future is great considering the tremendous impact we have created with limited resources and support.
We are a dynamic and emerging community, growing in numbers daily with our impacts touching thousands of lives directly, hundreds of thousands indirectly and millions of impressions on social media.
We see a future where living with diabetes in Nigeria will not be a death sentence for anyone irrespective of the age and social status.