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Ramadan health clinics launched

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As the holy month of Ramadan approaches, the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) is set to team up with the Islamic Medical Association (IMA) and Eli Lilly SA, in hosting four Ramadan Awareness Health Clinics at mosques across the city. The clinics will focus on the issue of diabetes and how patients can educate themselves, and adequately manage their diabetes during the month of Ramadan.

This was emphasised at a conference held on Monday at the MJC offices, where representatives of the various organisations stressed the importance of matters ranging from proper dieting, to recognising the symptoms of diabetes. The presentation also saw a briefing on the importance of fasting within the Islamic culture, and the effects of fasting with diabetes.

Although the ulema body holds regular medical presentations at various mosques during Ramadan, MJC secretary-general Maulana Abdul Khaliq Allie said the clinics would be a “first of its kind”, as it would be the first time the body would embark on such a programme leading up to the holy month. He heaped praise on the IMA and Eli Lilly for collaborating with the MJC on the initiative.  

“It is truly setting a standard and creating an opportunity to roll out similar programmes both in Africa, as well as in other parts of the world. We have a need for such unique partnerships, wherein we can collaborate and share our expertise,and bring people together,” he said.

Allie called for the new found partnership between the organisations to be used to intensify their efforts in raising awareness and educating Muslims about diabetes. He proposed the hosting of more clinics, particularly in the poorer communities, specifically during the week preceding Ramadaan.

Dr Aneesah Sheikh of Eli Lilly said the focus of the conference and the collaboration with the IMA and MJC, was to minimise the risks faced by diabetics looking to observe the fast.

During a slide presentation on fasting from a medical perspective, Dr. Junaid Akoojee said they were not turning people against fasting, because it was the choice of the patient themselves. He said the clinics would instead advice and promote diabetics into eating healthier during the fast.

He pointed out the two main risks, namely low and high sugar, and said it was imperative that patients had access to sugar machines like a glucometer. This would allow them to regularly monitor their sugar throughout the month. He also highlighted the need to pay attention to low and high sugar symptoms, warning that if a drop in sugar was too severe, 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 advised.

Akoojee had advice for diabetics on how and what to eat in the morning, when beginning their fast. This included low-GI foods, bran, mueslis, and lots of water. 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.

The conference also saw the presentation of a ‘Ramadan conversation map’, designed to bridge the gap between healthcare providers and patients. This would help diabetics understand the disease, and create an individualised therapy and diet for them during the month.

The first clinic is set to be held at Masjidul Quds on Tuesday morning from 10am until 12pm. That will be followed by the Auwal masjid in Bokaap, on the 4th June, after Maghrib. On the 14th there will be two clinics at the Husami and Lenteguer masajid respectively from 10am until 1pm. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)

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