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Pre-Ramadan clinics effective

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A series of four pre-Ramadan health clinics held at four masajid in Cape Town over the past month was a major success. The Islamic Medical Association (IMA) in collaboration with the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) and Eli Lilly SA, focused on the issue of diabetes, and how patients could educate themselves, and properly manage the disease during the month long fast.

Dr. Salim Parker of the IMA, said the clinics had been well attended at all the venues, despite being organised on short noticed. The clinics took place at four local masajid, including the Masjidul Quds in Gatesville, the Auwal Masjid in Bo-Kaap, the Husami mosque in Cravenby and Lentegeur masjid.

The clinics provided diabetes sufferers with health screenings and consultations to determine whether it was advisable for them to fast or not. The main aim was to provide patients intending to fast with the proper guidance and guidelines, as to how to approach the month.

“What we realised was that, it doesn’t really matter what the doctors state, because the reality is that our elderly people will fast, no matter what we say. It is difficult to tell someone…if you imagine a 90 year old lady who has been fasting most of her life, that she is too old to fast,” he said.

The clinics focused on producing a model specifically designed for each patient, that would take into account both the Islamic, as well as medical input regarding fasting with diabetes.

“The message we wanted to get across was, with the collaborative effort of doctor, imam and the diabetic patient, we can advise them to safely embark on one of the five pillars of Islam,” he explained.

Parker said with the limited amount of manpower they had, it was impossible to screen all the patients that attended the clinics. However, they still managed to screen more than 80 individuals at each mosque, with a total of 170 being screened at Masjidul Quds on one Tuesday, when the poplar women’s class is held.

All clinics were preceded by a talk and powerpoint presentation, with the assistance of an alim. This presentation highlighted both the medical and religious implications of forcing oneself to fast, when it was clearly inadvisable. 

Fasting Tips

During a slide presentation at the launch of the clinics, Dr. Junaid Akoojee listed low and high sugar as the two main symptoms, fasting diabetics needed to watch out for. He stressed the importance of patients have access to sugar machines, otherwise known as glucometers. This would allow them to regularly monitor their sugar throughout the month. He said that any drop in sugar that was too severe, meant the patient risked falling into a coma.

“If you test their sugar and it is low, the simplest way to get it up is to give them 15g to 20g of carbohydrates, like a glass of orange juice. You give them one glass of juice and wait 15 minutes then test the sugar again. You repeat this three times, and if the sugar is still less than 4, you need to take them to the doctor,” he said.

Akoojee advised diabetics to include low-GI foods, bran, mueslis, and lots of water into their morning diet during the month. He also said it was imperative they woke up long before the athaan went off and took their time eating, as opposed to waking up on the last minute and rushing through their meal.

“The most important thing is healthy eating and watching what you do in the morning before you are going to start your fast,” he explained. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)

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