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Diabetes in China is a large concern with much need for higher awareness

In my 3-month fellowship assignment from April 1st through to the end of June 2013, I am partnering with GBCHealth a coalition of more than 220 companies united to keep the fight against HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, and non-communicable diseases (including diabetes) a global priority.  My assignment is focused on developing a new Diabetes Awareness Training Module working with GBCHealth (and other stakeholders: other NGOs, clinicians, where possible), to educate and train employees of multinationals operating in China and Chinese companies.  

Diabetes Statistics: According to the Chinese Diabetes Society (CDS) and the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), China has the highest diabetes rates and largest population world wide, surpassing population and prevalence rates cited for India (61.3 million population cases; 2011 data) and the USA (8 out of 100 people have diabetes).

  • 1 in 10 Chinese people have diabetes (9.7% of population has diabetes); this translates to 92 million+ mainland China diabetics;
  • 60%+ of the Chinese population remain undiagnosed largely because the few symptoms during the early years may not be recognized as being related to diabetes
  • 148 million with pre-diabetes risk factors; It is estimated that 20 – 30 million pre-diabetics to move to full-blown diabetes/year
  • 20 years ago the average age diabetic patient = age 50+; Now: = age 30+ with many teenage diabetics; this has been attributed to changes in lifestyles (and thought could be reversed with better education)
  • People > age 40, overweight, or in well-off urban areas where Western fast food chains are common, face a particularly high risk.  
  • Personal observation in Beijing city:  there are numerous highly popular Western fast food and Chinese street food vendors; the majority of the food choices are deep-fried in cooking oils.

It is now day 2 in the GBCHealth Beijing office and I received the most wonderful, very warm welcome from the GBCHeatlh colleagues, Michael Shiu (VP and Regional Director) and Anna Feng (Program Coordinator), who I will be working closely with during my 3 month fellowship. I am excited to start tackling the initial steps towards the development of the diabetes awareness education module.   My first steps over the next weeks are to collect and review existing documented learning's from 2012 Global Health Fellows, David Marshall and LingFeng Yang, who both worked on developing several overarching strategies for improving diabetes awareness.  Of these, the work place diabetes awareness education initiative is the core project that I will be focusing on to implement.  Additionally, I have been gathering and reviewing existing diabetes education training materials online and from other NGOs, such as Project Hope.  Secondly, I have started to develop a Baseline Workplace Survey to interview GBCHealth member companies to better understand their baseline knowledge of diabetes awareness and their interest in the diabetes education modules for their employees.  From these collective insights, I aspire to both better understand and tailor the development of diabetes education topics and identify the best way to communicate the education with the employees of member companies. Towards getting settled, I set out to learn more about my neighborhood.  I am most enjoying exploring the local Chinese food, and with recommendations have found some great delicious dishes already!  For communication with others who do not speak English (my Mandarin is quite nonexistent), I often finding myself using the Mandarin words of 'xie xie" (thank-you) and "qing" (please) together with the pointing to items/food and smiling a lot :).  The Chinese people are wonderfully friendly. This approach, is working well indeed, nevertheless, I continue to aspire to learn and use more Mandarin words over time.

  

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