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Facing Ramadaan with diabetes

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As Muslims around the world prepare for fasting for the month of Ramadaan next week, the Diabetes and Ramadaan International Alliance in partnership with the International Diabetes Federation has released the “New Guidelines on Diabetes Management during Ramadaan”.

The guidelines were presented this week by Professor Mahomed Omar.

The guidelines serve to enable people with diabetes to make informed decisions based on an agreement between religious and medical authorities.

Omar said the number of people in the world living with diabetes was estimated to be 415 million. By 2040, this figure was set to rise by 55 percent.

In Africa and the Middle East, where a large proportion of the population was Muslim, the figure was set rise to more than double from 35.4 million to 72.1 million by 2040.

A 2010 study by CREED found that 78.7 percent of people who had type 2 diabetes who enrolled for the study fasted for at least 15 days and 63.6 percent fasted every day.

The Indian community in South Africa has the highest proportion of people who have diabetes, with a prevalence of 11-13 percent, followed by 8-10 percent for the coloured community, 5-8 percent of the African community and four percent among whites.

Omar said people with acute diabetes should not fast during the month. This was because it could put their lives at risk. Omar said people who were not well fasted out of a “feeling of guilt”.

He also said it was a sin for a Muslim to fast during Ramadaan if they knew their fasting could have an adverse effect on their body.

He quoted the Qur’an as saying: “Let not your own hands throw you into destruction” and “God has a right over you. Your body has a right over you”.

It was important to educate religious leaders about diabetes because people often went to them for advice he said.


He said the public was being educated through radio stations such Al-Ansaar and Radio Islam. “Diabetics should consult their doctor before fasting,” he said.

During Ramadaan people should drink more water and avoid simple sugars like fizzy drinks and biscuits, he said. Omar also said that when people prick their skin to check their blood sugar levels, it does not mean the fast has been broken. This perception was incorrect, he said.

People should have lighter meals before dawn when they are fasting and heavier meals after sunset he said.

Light to moderate exercise was also important during this period he said. The acts of kneeling, bowing and rising during prayers were considered to be a form of exercise he said.

Fasting in South Africa would be easier than in other countries this year, he noted.

This was because Ramadaan would take place in winter, meaning the days were shorter, whereas in countries in the northern hemisphere which experienced summer weather, the days were longer.

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[Source: IOL]
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