Desi vs Diabetes event uses storytelling to combat disease in community

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On Oct. 18, the Ontario Khalsa Darbar (OKD) held the “Desi vs Diabetes” event as part of a national campaign health called Mithaas, encouraging South Asian families to “live sweet, not eat sweet.”
The Desi vs Diabetes event has employed a unique approach using storytelling to combat diabetes in South Asian communities.
One of the largest gurdwaras in Canada is hosting a film screening and community dialogue to tackle a major health issue affecting the South Asian community in Peel Region: high and rising rates of diabetes.
The Mithaas campaign takes a unique approach to empower healthy behaviours by using storytelling and digital channels like WhatsApp to engage South Asian audiences.
In an interview with Dr. Harpreet Bajaj, community endocrinologist and founder of the “Stop Diabetes” Foundation said the campaign was aimed at managing the disease property and removing the stigma attached to diabetes. “The one suffering the disease blame themselves and feel the family may not support them,” he added.
“As a doctor I can give them information and statistics but to the public it can get boring, that is why this video concept is designed to be entertaining and informative at the same time. People can gain and learn more thorough this medium,” he added.
According to studies, South Asians are three- to six-times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, compared to the general population.
And Peel Region is known as the diabetes capital of Canada, with the highest rates in the GTA and Ontario, one in seven residents has diabetes, compared to one in 11 for the rest of the country.
Almost 500,000 South Asians live in Peel, representing a third of the population.
Mithaas is named after the Hindi and Punjabi word for “sweetness” and the campaign centres on a short film called “Aadha Chammach,” the story of a grandmother who tries to hide her diabetes from her busy daughter and family, until one morning, things take a turn for the worse.
Partners in the campaign and event include the Healthy Communities Initiative, Stop Diabetes Foundation, World Sikh Organization and Cities Changing Diabetes.
It is hoped that campaigns such as this one will bring about the much needed awareness of this avoidable disease.

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