By Funmi Ogundare in Lagos and Kuni Tyessi in Abuja
The University of Abuja has entered into a partnership with Diabetes Africa, a network of health professionals to establish a top-class educational programme on Diabetes Education, aimed at improving the quality of care offered to diabetes patients across Africa.
The partnership which will also address the dearth of diabetologists and other health care professionals who play a critical role in the study and management of diabetes, would lead 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.
The virtual signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), which held simultaneously in the United Kingdom and University of Abuja, Nigeria, was also witnessed online by the Eastern African Diabetes Study Group from Kenya.
The Vice-Chancellor, UNIABUJA, Professor Abdul-Rasheed Na’Allah, while speaking during the signing of the memorandum, commended the initiative, saying that the university will be a pacesetter in the 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 added that the institution would ensure that the collaboration brings about the strengthening of health services especially with regard to treatment of diabetes in the country.
The facilitator of the partnership and Dean of the Faculty of Clinical Sciences, Professor Felicia Anumah, said the burden of the complications of diabetes in Nigeria was high because of the poor-quality care and the unaffordability 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 impact in 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 then clinicals which will 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,” Anumah said.
In a brief remark, the Chairman of the Eastern African Diabetes Study Group, Professor Silver Bahendeka said diabetes education cannot be under-rated given the alarming rate of the disease and its complications, adding that it is heartwarming to see that the university has taken the lead in establishing the programme and looking forward to seeing the involvement of other institutions across Africa as Diabetes Africa rolls out programmes.
“We have been looking forward to someone to take the lead and now that the University of Abuja has done it, congratulations,” Bahendeka said.
Commending the commitment of the University of Abuja to the venture, the CEO 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 are 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.”