On Saturday 14 November MoPoTsyo celebrated the World Diabetes Day based on the 2006 UN General Assembly adopted resolution 61/225.
In 2007, MoPoTsyo organized its first WDD in Phnom Penh including the walk with 500 people with banners and music marching up the city’s main boulevard Norodom.
Everything went smoothly without incidents and participants had included the Cambodian Diabetes Association as well as ministerial dignitaries. In 2008 however, just a few days before the actual WDD was going to take place official permission to organize the Diabetes Walk in Phnom Penh was suddenly denied. But now this year fortunately, in Takeo, official permission for the Walk was granted. True, not for the 1000 people we had asked for, but for the more manageable crowd of 200 diabetic walkers from Takeo itself. That is better than no permission.
Also, it was the first time for the normally quiet Takeo town to host a Diabetes Walk of empowered people with Diabetes, so one 1000 would have seemed an overdose to start this brand-new Cambodian tradition with. Everything went smoothly, thanks to the well organized Peer Educator Network. Next year, in 2010, we will apply for permission for more participants if not for the whole crowd. This year, 2009, in total 650 of our members joined the event. The 200 walkers were selectedfrom the ones who had come earliest. Our members had come from all corners of the province. A specially rented van from the North West border district Thmar Pouk in the province Banteay Meanchey had brought us the first 3 new Peer Educators and 14 Diabetics to join the party. These people saw with their own eyes that they are not alone to have diabetes.
The atmosphere was great, and helped by the khmer music from the loud speakers. The three MoPoTsyo songs were played and sung over and over again. There was some dance and we will do more of that next year. The delicious food was low-glycemic with whole rice, mung beans, tofu, fish, green veggies in typical khmer soups..simple natural delicacies..just mmmm almost as good as at home!
During breaks soya bean milk was served for young and old with goiava fruits which are always a bit of a challenge for wobbly teeth from the Sangkum Reast Nieyum area. The young khmer mango presents definitely a more willing bite.
Important speeches were delivered by different people. H.E. Sok Pheng, Secretary of State of the Ministry of Health gave his speech on behalf of the Ministry of Health. He is from Kirivong District in Takeo province. Also the Director General for Health was there, H.E. Tep Lun. The Vice Governor of Takeo province H.E. Ith Sok spoke for the province as well as Dr Hem Sareth, the Provincial Health Director. Also our board was represented by our member Chean Men.
Three very well known comedians, Mr Vitamin C and Mr Ney Swet and Miss Chhay performed right after lunch. Mr Vitamin C and Mr Nge Swet both have diabetes and made a lot of fun about it with many jokes which cannot be translated.
On November 12th, at the Faculty of Medicine, the Cambodian Diabetes Association had organized the 6th Diabetology Day. The topic was to review the relationship between Doctor and Patient. As always, MoPoTsyo was present with a presentation. The discussions were interesting and frank. The day was officially opened by H.E. Prof Eng Huot and for the rest of the morning skillfully led by Prof Lim Keuky. The discussion focused on the tension between the scarcity in Doctors and other trained human resources and the enormous needs. MoPoTsyo’s health system stress relieving Peer Educator Network appears to be a logical solution to the audience of clinicians who do not have time to explain to patients over and over again, let alone to listen to them to find out if they have well understood what they should know.
On November 12th in the afternoon, two more candidate peer educators from Bantey Meanchey passed the Peer Educator Exam. The first 3 of 10 have now passed and are ready to start to work back in their own home community. We have 2 women and 1 men. We will try to keep this gender balance if we succeed.On October 22nd , during the IDF World Diabetes Congress in Montreal, MoPoTsyo’s Director Maurits van Pelt, gave a presentation. on the topic of Peer Educator Networks and coined the abbreviation P.E.N. for the first time at this two yearly international congress. The previous one was in Cape Town and the next one will be in Dubai in 2011. The words he spoke to accompany the presentation can be downloaded here. The presentation was well received among an enthusiastic specialized audience interested in peer education and from many different countries, including other low income countries. However there is clearly a long way to go to promote peer education among the main stakeholders in the organisation of diabetes care in most countries. The process of its legitimization via WHO guidelines is well underway.
MoPoTsyo was also part of an unremunerated delegation of WDF partners who traveled to Nairobi, Kenya to make recommendations for the 7th WHO Health Promotion Conference. It was the first time a special day on Diabetes & Development was organized. As a result of advocacy, the threat of the epidemic found its way into the WHO’s new call for action with the following words on page 4: quote ”...Enhance policy by................ensuring that health promotion is mainstreamed into priority programmes such as HIV/AIDS, malaria, Tuberculosis, Mental Health, Mother- and Child Health, violence and injury, neglected tropical diseases and noncommunicable diseases such as Diabetes.” This was therefore a historic moment. The call’s wording is very general of course.Many of the debates during the conference were dominated by the choice where to prioritize : the important social determinants of health or access to quality health services. With MoPoTsyo’s inter-sectoral empowering community-based Peer Educator Networks we are actually walking a practical middle path integrating elements from both ideologies. As often ideologies seem to clash, while best practice lies in somewhere in the middle. Let’s go back to work so we carefully find this best practice taking one toad-step by one toad-step as it is called in Cambodian language...!
MoPoTsyo’s Director, Maurits van Pelt, was chosen by a selected group of NGO representatives to become Vice-Chair of the Non-Communicable-Diseases Steering Committee that works with the Ministry of Health. The chosen Chair is Dr Cornelia Haener of the Center of Hope in Phnom Penh. Center of Hope runs Cambodia’s oldest and largest Chronic Disease Care clinic serving thousands of Diabetes patients, many of whom are also member of MoPoTsyo. The NCD Committee is a new committee. It has been formed on request of the government to help diverse NGO ideas, experiences and lessons reach the government policy makers in a coherent way and through a more structured channel. It is one more opportunity to improve the current situation with regards to NCD’s in a structural way.
The Dutch organisation Impulsis awarded a grant of Euro 20,000 to Friends For Life, the Dutch association which has been supporting MoPoTsyo through private donations from Dutch society since MoPoTsyo started its activities in 2005. This grant must be matched by the same amount to be raised inside Dutch society. The new fundraising round in Dutch society has started and the full amount must be completely raised by June 30, 2010. In order to donate, please transfer to bank account 60.23.03.141 at ABN AMRO Bank in Amsterdam, account name Stichting Friends For Life, Keizersgracht 162, 1015 CZ Amsterdam, The Netherlands; The raised funds will be used in Takeo province and in Phnom Penh’s slum areas in order to help the poorest of the poor to pay for some of their health care costs, to help reimburse costs that peer educators make when are doing follow-up of people with diabetes, to increase the stock of the revolving drug fund to allow more selling-points because this can bring the medicines closer to the patients who do not have to travel so far to buy their own personal stock from which they have to take their daily medicines, and to pay for office running costs that are not covered by other donors.