By Joseph Varghese/Staff Reporter
Qatar Diabetes Association (QDA), a member of Qatar Foundation (QF), in collaboration with Sasol, introduced ‘Salem’ and ‘Sarah’, two mascot toys to reduce the fear and anxiety associated with diabetes in young children.
Dr Abdulla al-Hamaq, executive director of QDA; Marjo Louw, president of Sasol Qatar; Jack Saba, GM of Public Affairs, Sasol Qatar; and Awatif Hussein El-Sayed, public relations officer, QDA took part in the launch event held at Movenpick Hotel Doha yesterday.
Dr al-Hamaq said that round 16.7% of Qatar’s total adult native population suffers from diabetes as per the latest survey conducted in 2012. “About 23.11 per 100,000 children are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, according to data from Hamad Medical Corporation. This is far less than countries such as Finland which have an incidence rate of about 53. There is no cure for type 1 diabetes, and patients must carefully monitor their blood-sugar levels or risk damaging health complications.”
Custom-made for QDA, the toys are plush characters developed to provide educational support and comfort for children living with type 1 diabetes in Qatar and across the region.
The toys contain a hidden, zipped compartment on their back where children can keep their diabetic testing equipment, and each toy is accompanied with a backpack and video. Salem and Sarah have clear injection sites on their arms, legs, and stomach.
Around 1,000 plush toys will be used in QDA camps for children with diabetes, as well as distributed through the newly diagnosed programme in collaboration with Hamad Medical Corporation.
Through the use of these playful learning tools, Sarah and Salem will also raise awareness of the various lifestyle changes that children living with diabetes and their families will have to face.
In some cases, poor management of diabetes can lead to blindness, loss of limbs and severe nerve pain. Diabetes is a condition that children may find hard to understand, especially considering that treatments are complex and daunting. Salem and Sarah are fun, light-hearted character mascots that aim to bring diabetes and its treatment to an approachable and comprehensible level.
Dr al-Hamaq said: “We have been working on creating educational programmes that provide support to children with type 1 diabetes. We are very grateful that Sasol and The Art of Business brought this idea, as well as offered us the financial support to create these mascots.”
Marjo Louw, president of Sasol Qatar, said: “Sasol is pleased to support this important programme, in collaboration with the Qatar Diabetes Association. Through our community initiatives, we are committed to help support individuals facing challenges to reach their ambitions. I hope these plush toys help children and their families in coping with the diagnosis, providing useful information, and improving their ability to enjoy life’s pleasures. Hope and joy are integral in helping children tackle health challenges.”
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