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UniAbuja set to pioneer diabetes studies in Africa

THE University of Abuja (UniAbuja) has concluded plans to establish a top-class educational programme on Diabetes Education that will improve the quality of care offered to diabetes patients across Africa.

To achieve this, the university has entered into a partnership with Diabetes Africa, a network of health professionals, Head, Information and University Relations, Dr Habib Yakoob, has said.

The partnership will also address the dearth of diabetologists and other healthcare professionals who play critical role in the study and management of diabetes, leading to the award of master’s degree in Diabetes Education by the University of Abuja with support from Diabetes Africa in the form of experience, expertise and fundraising.

Yakoob said the virtual signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which took place simultaneously in the United Kingdom and the University of Abuja, was also witnessed online by the Eastern African Diabetes Study group from Kenya.

Vice-Chancellor, Professor Abdul-Rasheed Na’Allah, while commending the initiative, said the university would become a pacesetter in this programme.

“I express total support for this collaboration. I hope it is going to be a mark in the training in this area of professionalism, better knowledge management and treatment in Africa,” he said at the signing of the MoU.

Na’Allah added that the university would ensure that the collaboration led to the strengthening of health services, especially regarding the treatment of diabetes in the country.

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Facilitator of the partnership and Dean of the Faculty of Clinical Sciences, Professor Felicia Anumah, said the burden of the complication of diabetes in Nigeria was quite high because of the poor-quality care and the non-affordability of medications and blood glucose monitoring devices by many patients.

She said it had been the dream of the College of Health Sciences of the university to make an impact on this area by starting a programme in diabetes.

Anumah said the programme in diabetes education which would also have international faculties, would be run on a dual mode with virtual lectures and clinicals which would take place in some identified centres across the country.

“I am very grateful to Diabetes Africa for being interested in this and being ready to support us in this venture. It is a day that I feel partly fulfilled; thank you very much,” she said.

In a brief remark, the chairman of the Eastern African Diabetes Study group, Professor Silver Bahendeka, said diabetes education could not be under-rated, given the alarming rate of the disease and its complications.

He added that it was heartwarming that the university had taken the lead in establishing the programme, saying he was looking forward to seeing the involvement of other institutions across Africa as Diabetes Africa rolls out programmes.

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“We have been looking forward to someone to take the lead and now that the University of Abuja has done it; congratulations,” Bahendeka said.

While lauding the commitment of the university to the venture, the Chief Executive Officer of Diabetes Africa, Dr Greg Tracz ,noted that COVID-19 had shown the whole world that the dichotomy between non-communicable and communicable diseases needed to be surmounted.

He said people living with diabetes were at high risk of contracting a range of communicable diseases and so “we believe strongly in tackling diabetes in all possible ways and the most impactful way to tackle diabetes as early as possible is through education.”

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