A good stretch of the Sheikh Zayed Road was dressed in blue early Friday morning as over 13,000 people joined the UAE’s fourth annual Beat Diabetes Walkathon in the UAE, organised by the retail and hospitality conglomerate Landmark Group. The walk was flagged off by international cricketing legend, Wasim Akram, on 23 November from the Oasis Centre.
Walkathons were additionally held during November across Bahrain, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and India with over 33,000 participants coming together to demonstrate their support for diabetes awareness.
The Beat Diabetes walkathons mark the culmination of a year-long timeline of diabetes awareness drives and activities led by the Landmark Group.
In the UAE, Renuka Jagtiani, Vice-Chairperson, Landmark Group, joined supporters in the 3.1 km walk. In an expression of solidarity to the cause, Abdulla Mohammed Juma, Director of Administrative Affairs, Dubai Diabetes Centre, Nasser Al Rahmah, Director of Community and Private Sector Department, Dubai Sports Council, and Tayeb Abdulrahman Al Rais, Secretary General, Awqaf and Minors Affairs Foundation, led the walk reiterating the need for a healthy lifestyle.
The walkathon was preceded by a fortnight-long wellness festival at the Oasis Centre to raise awareness on managing diabetes. Medical experts from iCARE Clinics, the healthcare concept of the Landmark Group, administered free blood glucose tests to mall visitors during the two preceding weeks and on the day of the walkathon. LifeScan Johnson & Johnson, which has supported the initiative since its inception in 2009, also partnered with the Group for the testing.
Renuka Jagtiani, Vice-Chairperson, Landmark Group, said: “Now in its fourth year, the Beat Diabetes initiative has touched the lives of millions of people across seven countries. The support offered by residents and institutions towards this year’s edition of the walkathon has been extremely encouraging. Our mission is to keep this momentum going and urge people to
adopt a healthy and active lifestyle.”
According to new figures released by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), globally the number of people living with diabetes has risen to 371 million in 2012, compared to 366 million in 2011. One in every nine adults has diabetes in the Middle East and this is set to rise. IDF also estimates that nearly 50 per cent of these individuals are yet to be diagnosed.
Wasim Akram said: “Diabetes is increasingly becoming a cause for concern around the globe. In most cases, diabetes is the outcome of a sedentary lifestyle. Being aware means having the know-how to tackle the issues that may lead to the condition. The Beat Diabetes initiative is spreading awareness through an inspiring platform of engagement and education, and I am happy to be a part of this.”
Abdulla Mohamed Juma, Director of Administrative Affairs, Dubai Diabetes Centre at Dubai Health Authority, said: “We are indeed pleased to participate in the Landmark Group’s Beat Diabetes walkathon. Diabetes affects a large number of people in the UAE. It is the need of the hour to educate residents if we are to reduce its incidence. Events such as the walkathon and free blood glucose camps are commendable, as they better equip people with relevant information on diabetes and highlight the importance of making healthy lifestyle choices.”