”We will go to schools and educate people about diabetes. We will go to hospitals and visit newly diagnosed people with diabetes. And we will educate families living with diabetes, so as to avoid stigmatisation” Anita Bulindi said, as she presented herself for the presidential election of the African Diabetes Youth Leadership Programme.
This programme, initiated by the Tanzanian Diabetes Association, ran from the 21st to the 24th of July 2012 as a way to address the increasing burden of diabetes in children and adolescents in Africa.
The programme brought together 43 young people between 15 and 21 years, 22 nurses and 21 doctors from Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Cameroon, Guinea and Congo. The programme focused on diabetes management, peer-to-peer support and education, how to build awareness, and the principles of good leadership.
The participants had the opportunity to share knowledge and experiences during intensive days of 13 hours, and also followed sessions ran by carefully selected speakers – many of whom had come to the programme for the sake of educating the future of diabetes only. One of them was Team Type 1's CEO and founder Phil Southerland, who gave a speech on the importance of physical activity “It is always inspiring for me to meet these amazing youths and see how resilient and positive they are in fighting diabetes.” he said after the session.
The key driver of the programme was to increase awareness and understanding of diabetes by engaging the African youth in diabetes-related projects in their own community.
Throughout the programme it became evident, that the lack of education was the single most important issue for the African Young Leaders. Therefore, supporting other young people with diabetes, through education and empowerment, is an issue that they will be addressing in the future.
On the third day of the programme, 20 IDF Young Leaders in Diabetes joined the African Youth. They travelled from all parts of the world to engage into the programme, to learn about diabetes in Africa and about the troubles and stigmatization that people is facing with diabetes in the region.
On the fourth and final day of the programme, the presidential election elections took place. Seven African Young Leaders where running for the 3 available positions and delivered a speech on the future they foresee for the programme. The perspectives brought forward by these African Young Leaders showed a dedication and commitment to the diabetes cause, that only true diabetes champions can muster.
John Peter, 19 years old from Tanzania was elected as President, Anita Bulindi, 17 years old from Tanzania as Vice President and Rukia Mbwana, 17 years old from Tanzania as Treasurer. Together with all the Young Leaders, they are willing to build the future for type 1-diabetes in the African Region.