Published on 18 May 2017

People with type 2 diabetes in Africa will soon benefit from a management programme developed in the UK.

A self-management programme for people with type 2 diabetes, developed by a team including researchers from the University of Leicester, is to be introduced in Africa for the first time.

The Diabetes Education and Self-Management for Ongoing and Newly Diagnosed (DESMOND) programme, which is supported by the NIHR Leicester Biomedical Research Centre (BRC), is to be made available to people in Malawi and Mozambique.

The DESMOND programme is based around physical activity and healthy lifestyle changes and will be adapted to help people with type 2 diabetes in the sub-saharan African countries.

Dr Emer Brady, from the University of Leicester and the NIHR Leicester BRC, said: “The prevalence of type 2 diabetes in Mozambique and Malawi currently sits at 4.6% and 4.3% respectively. In both countries one in five people are overweight.

“Although countries have fully implemented national diabetes guidelines, access to care and availability of basic medicines and procedures are generally poor. With 98% of diabetes care being the responsibility of the patient they need to be well-informed and skilled to do so, which is why we want to help.”

Teams from the NIHR BRC and the Leicester Diabetes Centre (LDC) will train health educators in Africa about how to deliver the DESMOND programme.

Dr Brady added: “By educating people about how to better manage their condition, we firmly believe we can help ease the burden of the condition and improve quality of life.

“The legacy of this work is important and that is why, for example, we will be training local healthcare professionals to be able to train others in delivering this education. We will also be working together to develop further research initiatives, that will ultimately improve the health future of generations to come.”

The number of people who take part in the courses and how their type 2 diabetes control is affected will all be collected as part of a study on the progress of DESMOND in Africa, to be published at the end of the work.

Professor Melanie Davies

Principal investigator for the study Professor Melanie Davies, Director of the Leicester BRC and Professor of Diabetes Medicine at the University of Leicester, said: “Mozambique and Malawi are countries that have undergone increasing urbanisation, which has led to an associated lifestyle shift.

“The population has moved from a relatively healthy traditional pattern, to increased food quantity, low levels of exercise, smoking and increased alcohol intake, which is driving the rising epidemic of chronic non-communicable diseases with type 2 diabetes at the forefront.

“We have already proved that structured education works by improving health outcomes for people and that it is a cost-effective approach. An educated and empowered patient can work more effectively with their doctor to improve and maintain better control of their condition.”

Research has found that people taking the DESMOND course have reported improvements in well-being, adherence to medication, and weight loss.

The programme is currently delivered in more than 100 sites in the UK and also in Ireland, Australia and Qatar.

The work, part funded by the Medical Research Council, will also involve the development of a tool for the use of other health clinicians, who may want to use DESMOND for a different population.

More information about the Desmond programme
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