A Legacy of Health Education: Diabetes Awareness

Alumnus of Legacy’s Public Health program organizes a “Prevention Through Education” seminar for 50 diabetics, promoting knowledge of Diabetes and its care  in the southwest Moroccan province of Taroudant.

“I would love to see one day, a huge health education center in Taroudant, giving services to people, not only by educating them about diabetes, but also about maternal health, hypertension, cardiac rheumatism, and  youth health… that’s my dream.” (Dr. Rabii Larhirissi)

Community Health Initiative

Participants shared their unique experiences, like this woman showing how she checks her feet everyday…

Dr. Larhrissi and other participants in Legacy’s North Africa Community Health Initiative (CHI) program  developed public health programs for their communities as the final phase in this program.

As his “follow-on” project, Dr. Larhirissi designed a “Prevention through Education” seminar to educate fellow Moroccans about Diabetes, its treatment, nutritional guidelines and the importance of exercise.

The Need

While Morocco has a national program for fighting diabetes, which provides insulin and drugs for free, its health education efforts have been under-effective in rural and low income areas. Diabetes still causes a high incidence of cardiovascular disease, blindness, kidney failure, and disability.

  • According to the World Health Organization 80% of deaths from Diabetes occurs in low and middle income people.”
  • A Moroccan national survey of cardiovascular risks in 2007 revealed a 7.7% prevalence of diabetes and over 50% of these people were unaware of their disease.
  • In Taroudant province the reported prevalence of Diabetes is 1.33%.    Rather than seeing this as a positive, Dr. Rabii recognized this as a warning sign that “.. that diabetics are still underestimated in our province, and that despite the existence of 118 health centers distributed throughout the province, there are still obstacles, like accessibility and public health education, to surpass. Our project is designed to improve people’s knowledge about their health.

community health program

… and talked about practical things like injecting insulin, and checking blood pressure

The Project

Dr. Larhrissi recruited 50 diabetics (type 2) in Taroudant, Morocco, in April 2012. Each group of 10 volunteers benefitted from 3 days of training and discussion on  the disease, its treatment and its complications, as well as diet and exercise.

Dr. Larhrissi’s project goals are to get participants talking about diabetes in a way that helps them to “understand what happens in their body. We want to stimulate each participant to give his opinion. We show how to inject insulin, how to check glycemia. We talk about nutrition and exercise and their importance in managing diabetes. And we don’t forget to evaluate people by using a presentation of foodstuffs and screening.”

understanding community health

Evaluation Exercises …to affirm people’s understanding of the information they were given

Inspired by his involvement in Legacy’s CHI program, Dr. Larhrissi says, “This project is the first step of a more ambitious one. In fact, I talked to the governor of Taroudant about this dream and he told me, Nothing’s impossible and that his office is open to me at anytime. I would like for my dream to let it become a reality.”

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