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Older people stand up to beat diabetes on World Health Day

21 Apr 2016

Older campaigners march through Siaya in western Kenya (c) Ben Small/HelpAge International

"When HelpAge supports us, older people get up, engage with one another and start to believe in themselves," explains the Central Asian Gerontology Center, our Age Demands Action campaign partner in Tajikistan.

Age Demands Action is a platform which allows older people across the HelpAge network to come together to meet ministers, share their frustrations and voice their opinions. It is a movement for, created and inspired by older people.

Diabetes tests taking place on World Health Day in Rwanda (c) Mugisha Fernand/HelpAge International

This World Health Day (7 April) marked an opportunity for campaigners of all ages to raise awareness of the increasing prevalence of diabetes in older age groups. From Tanzania to Tajikistan, Nigeria to Nepal, campaigners showed that being older is no reason to sit still.


Older people in Tanzania gather for a diabetes screening (c) Henry Mazunda/HelpAge International

In Tanzania, around 300 older men and women in the Kibaha district attended a health education session organised in collaboration with the Good Samaritan Social Service Tanzania where they were screened for diabetes. The local district commissioner Halima Kihembe attended the event and urged older people to lead healthy lifestyles and joined them in having her blood pressure taken.

One of the participants at the event, 65-year-old Zuhura Kilakala, explained how her husband and a number of friends had died from diabetes complications. She urged the Tanzanian Government for better information on treatment and prevention of common conditions, such as diabetes.


Older people march in Nepal on World Health Day

Our partners Ageing Nepal and HelpAge Nepal joined together for their campaigning activities for World Health Day. Ageing Nepal organised an awareness- building class with two colleges in Kathmandu to teach younger people about the symptoms and management of diabetes in older age groups. Older and younger people marched together in a rally, which concluded with a petition handover with the Ministry of Health. 


Older men play a game to help improve cognitive skills (c) Oluwole Oluwadamilola/Age Nigeria Foundation

Age Nigeria Foundation campaigning on World Health Day

Age Nigeria Foundation joined the Age Demands Action campaign for the first time this year. They were able to engage around 500 older people across their events. Older people participated in a lecture on diabetes and joined indoor games to help improve cognitive health. Undergraduates from the local area held a running race and made pledges to lead healthy lives.


Our partner in India, GRAVIS, celebrated World Health Day by organising two community awareness raising meetings with 100 older people. Trained health workers talked to the older people about diabetes and screened them for the condition. A rally by was also organised to recognise this important health issue.


Older people join a running race in Kyrgyzstan (c) HelpAge International

(c) Saltanat Saparbekova/HelpAge International

Our campaign partner in Kyrgyzstan, HelpAge Kyrgyzstan, was busy bringing older people and members of the public together in a flash mob in the capital Bishkek on World Health Day. They followed this with blood pressure checks and held a running race with older participants to promote healthy lifestyles. Members of self-help groups had a round table discussion with the Ministry of Health - an opportunity to hear the latest developments on healthcare and ask plenty of questions.


Older man in Vietnam on World Health Day (c) Vietnam Association of Elderly

In Vietnam, Vietnam Association of the Elderly, our partner carried out free medical and diabetes check-ups for older people. Older campaigners also had the opportunity to read the diabetes factsheet created by the HelpAge health team and ask questions they had about the condition.

Year-on-year older men and women prove their voices must be heard and their rights acknowledged in all aspects of life, including health. Without this recognition we cannot hope to lead long and healthy lives into our older age. Read more about the Age Demands Action movement and send your photos to campaigns@helpage.org.

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Author profile

Jemma Stovell
Country: Australia
Job title: Campaigns Officer

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These blogs are personal reflections and do not necessarily reflect the views of HelpAge International.