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The importance of education for Type 2 diabetics

Pic: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

November marks diabetes awareness month and to raise awareness local charity Diabetes Gibraltar has written articles highlighting the symptoms, treatment and stories of those living with diabetes. The articles will be published weekly on Fridays throughout the month of November.

Why is Education so important when you’re living with or at risk of Type 2 Diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes is a disease that affects mostly adults. Adults have ingrained social practices, habits, cultural beliefs and rituals. Adults have settled into routines and habits which make them comfortable and dictate their lifestyle.

When someone is diagnosed with T2 diabetes, or is told that they are at risk of developing diabetes, they are told that they need to change their lifestyle. This can be a very challenging and daunting time for many individuals, an overwhelming challenge which is almost impossible to overcome alone and many would rather turn a blind eye, pop their medication, and continue their lifestyle as before.

The most important aspect of diabetes prevention and management is EDUCATION. Education is the most powerful tool in making people aware, providing knowledge, visual evidence support and empowerment. Adults learn best through experiential learning, sharing of knowledge, discussion and goal setting with peer and group support.

All diabetes regulatory bodies advocate the importance of education within the first month of diagnosis. The GHA is currently failing to provide the required resources for this first essential step in the prevention and management of T2 diabetes. The GHA Diabetes Team has been so reduced that GPs are now tasked with the general care of all diabetes patients. But we all know that GPs do not have the time to spend on Education. Desperate newly diagnosed patients have approached us because they have no idea how to manage their condition and, in an effort to fill this void, Diabetes Gibraltar is aiming to provide support to the diabetes community by providing an accredited adult education programme from the UK.

The prevalence of Type 2 Diabetes is increasing much faster in developing countries, including Gibraltar, where we have over 10% of the adult population with T2 diabetes (the Europe average is 7%). T2 diabetes is a lifestyle condition but is also inherited and carries a high genetic link, which increases when inherited from both maternal and paternal sides. Having 1 parent with T2 gives the offspring a 25% chance of developing the condition, whilst having both parents with T2 increases the risk to 80%.

Awareness and education are therefore essential if we are to tackle the growing timebomb of T2 diabetes in Gibraltar.

We need educational campaigns at all levels of society to reverse the trends of Westernisation, get rid of cultural myths and misconceptions, and promote a healthier lifestyle if we are to stem the rising tide of T2 diabetes.

Diabetes is complicated and it takes practice to manage it in everyday life. Even with lifestyle changes there is no “one size fits all” solution. When you take part in diabetes self-management education sessions, you work with an educator who will help you to identify what suits you best. DESMOND (Diabetes Education & Self-Management for Ongoing & Newly Diagnosed) provides support in a way that works for the individual, learning their own practical skills to manage their blood sugar, eat well, be active and solve problems to help themselves live with diabetes. This is important to prevent and delay the serious complications of full-blown diabetes, such as heart and kidney disease, vision loss and amputations, as well as avoiding emergency care and hospitalisation

DESMOND is the most important tool in empowering people. It is pretty unique. It is an education programme specifically designed to support you, the person with diabetes, to become the expert!

So what is DESMOND?

DESMOND is a group course for people with Type 2 diabetes, Pre-diabetes or at risk
DESMOND supports and makes you the expert
DESMOND develops your knowledge and understanding of Type 2 diabetes
DESMOND empowers you to make your own decisions
DESMOND is designed to be informal and friendly
DESMOND is a way to meet and share life experiences with others
DESMOND is now an established part of care improvement for Type 2 diabetes in the UK
DESMOND will be offered to you free of charge by Diabetes Gibraltar

Visit us at our awareness stall tomorrow opposite the Cathedral on Saturday, October 12 from 10 am – 2 pm
For more information email us on

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