Diabetes in Tower Hamlets
In 2008 we produced our first health resource with Tower Hamlets Primary Care Trust to address the high prevalence of diabetes within the Muslim community.
This resource, consisting of a series of films in English and Sylheti accompanied by a website, proved to be highly successful, demonstrating a dynamic and effective way of providing information about diabetes, how it affects your health, and how you can improve your lifestyle. The website also provides local information about the services available in the area.
The Diabetes in Tower Hamlets project was presented as an example of good practice at the 2008 NHS London conference – ‘Innovating for a World City’ and on the Diabetes UK website. Maslaha was awarded the Diabetes UK Shared Practice award in 2010, in recognition of how our project delivers innovative care to improve the health and quality of life for people with diabetes by recognising the needs of person centred care models.
This resource was also featured in 'Diabetes Update' - the quarterly publication for professionals working in diabetes healthcare and research.
The success of this resource helped to kick start the rest of our work in health, and this project has been received with great interest by other healthcare providers across the UK. As well as our other work in health already taking place, other PCTs have expressed interest in commissioning Maslaha to develop resources in the areas of smoking cessation, alcohol and drug abuse, depression and obesity.
We worked closely with two local surgeries and the diabetes clinic in the local hospital, listening to both healthcare professionals and the patients to ensure that the films and website we produced were meaningful, accessible and useful.
We took the questions and information gained through these consultations to our team of advisors and academics, who provided religious evidence from the Quran and hadith which demonstrated that eating healthily and exercising are positive activities for a practising Muslim.
Maslaha produced a DVD in both English and Sylheti and an interactive website (www.diabetesintowerhamlets.org) which offers advice on diet, exercise, and fasting during Ramadan from a medical and Islamic perspective. A well known local Imam featured in the DVD and website to ensure that the information came from a respected and familiar voice.
As part of the publicity campaign that accompanied this project:
- Doctors and nurses were also giving patients printouts of the information on the website.
- The website and DVD were promoted by local internet cafes, on major Islamic websites such as the East London Mosque and City Circle, as well as media partners including Bangla TV (a popular local television station).
- Posters advertising the project were displayed in surgeries, halal butchers, barber shops and other community hubs.
If you would like a copy of the Diabetes in Tower Hamlets DVD, which contains the films, advice, and all the information above, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org. It can be useful for GPs or medical practitioners, community organisations, or private individuals.
Why Diabetes in Tower Hamlets?
Tower Hamlets has a large Muslim community (36%) and understanding how religious beliefs and cultural values shape behaviour and attitudes to healthcare is essential if their needs and health problems are to be addressed. The PCT identified diabetes as a priority, as there are an estimated 13-14,000 people with diabetes in the borough, largely occurring within the Asian community – a prevalence rate of three times the national average.
Feedback from patients and service providers has been extremely positive. Many patients were very appreciative of an approach which incorporates faith and information in their first language, and expressed a desire for more resources covering other illnesses prevalent in the community, such as asthma, gastric problems, heart conditions and depression. Consultants and nurses were particularly pleased to have been directly consulted, allowing them to inform the development of a useful resource. Their engagement with the pilot was instrumental in ensuring its relevance to everyday practice, and their feedback following the pilot will inform further improvements to this approach.
“There was a young, intelligent man who came to me with Type 1 diabetes who told me he was going to fast during Ramadan and I said ‘please don’t, you will die’. I gave him the DVD and said, ‘maybe you will find something in here to help’. He got through Ramadan, though I don’t know how or what he did, so if that stopped him from being admitted to hospital, if you save one person, then that’s brilliant.”
Nurse, Diabetes Clinic, Mile End Hospital
“My dad has diabetes, and I think it’s really useful that it’s in Sylheti. It would be really good if you could do another project for depression in different languages, especially in Bengali, but also other minority languages as well, because that’s a real problem here in the community.”
Patient, Female, 22, Shah Jalal clinic
“My wife suffers from diabetes, and this DVD is good, it’s very good. I speak English, but it’s nice to have it in my mother tongue as well. Also, it would be good to know more about asthma, how to take medicine, gastric diseases”
Patient, Male, 63, Mile End Hospital
“The Islamic point of view is very good; it’s more inclusive and reaches more people. Other resources we have been given before have been useless; the patients cannot understand the advice. This is particularly good for people who have just been diagnosed, but also good as a reminder for long-term sufferers.”
Diabetes Nurse, Varma Surgery
Watch our films and visit our website to learn more about how to look after your health if you have diabetes.
This resource was commissioned by Tower Hamlets PCT.