27 June 2013
Ramallah, West Bank
At the Ramallah Men’s Training Centre, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) launched a new, six-month effort to follow up with World Health Day goals and address the threat of diabetes in the Palestine refugee community. The programming, which will include weekly meetings with participants and monitoring of their progress, works to provide innovative solutions and information to refugees with diabetes, UNRWA staff and community members. The weekly sessions will include informational lectures on diabetes, as well as physical-activity classes specifically tailored for stay-at-home mothers. The programme will also offer courses in healthy cooking.
Dr Khaled Hilo, the senior medical officer of the Am’ari health centre and the leader of the first session, has already seen remarkable improvement n his patients. “Using this community-based approach to diabetes awareness and prevention helps us reach all members of the community,” he said. “With greater reach, we can encourage our patients to develop healthier lifestyles.”
The first session, attended by UNRWA staff, university students and patients, began with a lecture, followed by an exercise session. Halema, an emergency room nurse, came to share her information with patients. “These activities,” she said, “are the best way to inform myself and others about how to treat their disease and change their habits.”
At the end of the activities, participants cooked a diabetes-friendly makloobah for attendees of the ceremony honouring RMTC workers. Based on the Health programme’s three cornerstones of healthy eating – fat reduction, reduced oil and the substitution of healthy alternatives for primary ingredients – to recipe varied the classic dish by substituting brown rice for white and using less oil, as well as completely removing the fat from the chicken.
The results proved that healthy cooking can still be just as delicious. This was important to Nada Kisht, a diabetes patient. Her disease is currently under control without medication, but Nada, as she said, “loves sweets.” “It will be great to keep learning new ways to control my diet,” she continued, so that she can still indulge herself with desserts every once in a while.
The sessions are also sparking enthusiasm among younger members of the community. Ahlam Dahadha, a 22-year-old UNRWA volunteer who recently graduated from the nutrition programme at Birzeit University, said he aimed to improve the quality of life of patients living with diabetes. “This is a great place to start,” he continued. “I am very hopeful that these meetings will have positive effects in the community I seek to serve. “
First session of the day, attended by UNRWA staff members, community members and patients.