IOM Egypt Offers Free Diabetes Screenings, Eyeglasses to Migrants to Mark World Health Day

Cairo, 20 April 2016 - Following World Health Day (WHD) on 7 April, which had a 2016 theme of “Beat Diabetes”, IOM Egypt yesterday organized an event for migrant communities at Cairo’s Sayyeda Zeinab Cultural Park for Children, in cooperation with Tadamon, the Egyptian Refugee Multicultural Council.

The commemoration event was made possible within the framework of “Promoting Health and Wellbeing among Migrants in Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia and Yemen” project funded by the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and “Addressing Irregular Migration Flows and Upholding Human Rights of Migrants along the North-Eastern African Migration Route And North Africa – Noah Phase IV” project funded by the US State Department.

The event hosted more than 700 attendees including migrants from the Sudanese, Somali, Syrian, Kenyan, Ethiopian and Eritrean communities who attended a 10-minute presentation on diabetes and were encouraged to undertake a free blood glucose screening by the Arabic Association for the Study of Diabetes and Metabolism (AASD).

“The number of people living with diabetes has almost quadrupled since 1980 to 422 million adults, with most living in developing countries. Health access is limited to many vulnerable migrant communities in Egypt. It is IOM’s role to raise awareness about diseases as chronic as diabetes and provide support to diabetic migrants and ensure that they are well taken care of,” said Dr. Heidi Goubran, National Programme Officer with the Migrant Health Department at IOM.

More than half of the event’s attendees were tested for diabetes, of whom less than 10 percent were referred for further follow up by IOM and UNHCR. While follow up services are exclusively for migrants, participation in the event and diabetes screenings were open to all walk-ins.

In addition to the diabetes screenings, IOM has collaborated with Baraka Optics, one of Egypt’s biggest private sector optic retailers, to provide free eyeglasses to migrants reporting weak vision. During the event, Baraka provided 110 eyeglasses to migrants who have registered prior to the event. This was the first cooperation between the two organizations who have agreed to continue to provide migrants approaching IOM’s premises with the same services.

The event featured music bands and food prepared by the migrant communities. Gelateria Sociale, a no-profit ice-cream shop, supporting Egyptian deprived host community, served free ice cream to around 400 children, including a sugar-free flavor for diabetic participants. Face-painting, fun games for children and musical bands from Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia and Ethiopia contributed to make the day a joyful celebration of a healthy and active lifestyle.

“My children had so much fun today. They loved the games and face painting. They have not had that much fun in a long while,” smiled one Sudanese migrant.

In preparation for the day, the IOM Egypt medical team conducted awareness raising sessions for different migrant communities in Ard el Lewa, Maadi and Nasser City. The sessions included sensitization on diabetes and distribution of hygiene kit vouchers that were redeemed during the event.

For further information, please contact Christine Beshay at IOM Egypt, Tel: +202-27365140, Email: iomegypt@iom.int.

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  • Migrants are screened for diabetes in Cairo to mark World Health Day. Photo: IOM 2016