By Felix Khanoba


The University of Abuja (UniAbuja) has announced that the first cohort of students on a new master’s degree in Diabetes Education will commence their studies on Thursday 15th June, 2023.

The 18-month, dual learning MSc DME in Diabetes Education sets a new standard in the continent’s health education landscape, a statement signed by Dr Habib Yakoob -Acting Director, Information and University Relations, said on Thursday.

18 students have been pre-selected for the curriculum, which was developed by the University of Abuja in partnership with Diabetes Africa, a non-profit network of experts, the statement revealed.

Students for the new programme include physicians, pharmacists, dietitians, nurses, senior academic staff as well as an ophthalmologist and a dermatologist.

A driving force behind this initiative, Felicia Anumah, Professor of Medicine, Endocrinology and Diabetology and Director of the Centre for Diabetes Studies at the University of Abuja, described the initiative as “representing a major milestone for the University and for health education in Nigeria,” adding that “Trained diabetes educators are a key component of a well-rounded, quality and cost-effective diabetes care strategy.”

According to the statement, the initiative is timely as recent studies estmate the prevalence of Type 2 diabetes mellitus, a common form of diabetes, to 5.7% in Nigeria, equating approximately to 6 million people aged 15-64. Numbers are set to rise in the coming years.

“The 18-month academic programme will include virtual lectures and on-the-ground clinical training across four selected teaching hospitals: University of Abuja Teaching Hospital (UATH), Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital UPTH), and Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital (AKTH), ” it said.

Speaking on the development, Vice-Chancellor, University of Abuja, Professor Abdul-Rasheed Na’Allah, said, “When trained as diabetes educators,
healthcare professionals can transfer invaluable knowledge to people living with diabetes to help them manage their condiƟons in the community outside of a medical environment.”

Olufemi Fasanmade, Professor of Endocrinology at the College of Medicine, University of Lagos, one of the hospitals taking part in practical training for the diabetes educators said, “We will be teaching essential topics that are not covered by standard training such as: parent perspective of diabetes, cost of diabetes, food and diabetes, and some diabetes complications.”

The initiative is supported by international organisations and top experts in the field.

Dr Bernadette Adeyileka-Tracz, Executive Director of Diabetes Africa, a nongovernmental organisation that recently released a white paper on diabetes education in Sub-Saharan Africa said, “If we are to address non-communicable diseases seriously, we need to legitimise and incentivise diabetes education across Africa.

”Establishing professional positions and clear career path development for diabetes educators is essential to this strategy, ” he added.

On his part, Dr Zulfiqarali G. Abbas, member of the programme’s faculty and President of D-Foot International, a non-profit organisation, which focused on diabetic foot prevention and care, said, “Training healthcare professionals to identify early warning signs and prevent complications of diabetes is essenƟal to reducing the burden of diabetes care everywhere in the world.

The Nigerian government has also threw its weight behind the initiative.

According to Dr Alayo Sopekan, National Desk Officer, Diabetes at the Federal Ministry of Health, “Strengthening the structures and capabilities to control non-communicable disease is a key objective of our National Policy and Strategic Plan of Action, and workforce training is at the centre of it.”

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