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We can live with it if we know how

(encouragement to a healthy lifestyle in a city where the wind is born)

2010.CH04/mic-17

A person often underestimates the fact of being healthy. Liepaja Diabetes Society in cooperation with Liepaja city council carries out a project focused on fostering a healthy lifestyle by involvement of seniors and diabetes patients in community activities. Regretfully, diabetes is a metabolic disease, which cannot be fully cured. Therefore, in order to live with it, a person needs knowledge on how to adjust to a new situation in life. In Latvia more than 70 000 people have diabetes, which is the fifth most widespread cause of death.

“Education is the main objective of the project” notes Ritma Malinovska, the chairperson of the Liepaja Diabetes Society. The project implemented with the financial assistance of Swiss Confederation is aimed at education and training of diabetes patients and their relatives. By adopting a healthy lifestyle, one can successfully live with this disease. On the other hand, in order to do so, one needs knowledge, consultations by specialists, as well as regular check-ups, not to mention the support from friends and relatives.

Liepaja Diabetes Society operates since 1992, it offers blood sugar and cholesterol tests free of charge to any person, as well as educates about diabetes and healthy lifestyle.

Main activities carried out within the project include: education of diabetes patients and Nordic walking exercises, training of diabetes patients according to an individually tailored program, as well as promotion of a healthy lifestyle and information of the general public about risks of developing diabetes by providing consultations.

Theoretical and practical training of patients of diabetes was carried out at the Diabetes centre of the rehabilitation centre “Jaunkemeri” located the city of Jurmala and established in 2010. Thanks to support from Swiss Confederation, 18 patients of diabetes were able to undergo five day intensive training course free of charge, as well as received a variety of offered health therapies. Gained knowledge can now be disseminated further on, as people who attended this training programme are able to teach others, too. “I have more knowledge now on how to adjust to my disease” notes one of the patients. One needs to mention, that such training programme costs 25,- LVL per day – which is the amount of money most diabetes patients cannot afford to spend. “State suppport for diabetes patients is of utmost importance”, underlines the head of the Liepaja Diabetes Society, Ritma Malinovska.

Four times a year, Liepaja Diabetes Society in cooperation with Liepaja city council organizes Information Days of wide scope offering lectures, consulttions and sharing of experience. Costs of lecturers were covered from this project. “Each information day we start with some poetry, then we deal with questions regarding diabetes”, notes Ritma Malinovska.

Liepaja Diabetes Society actively participated in a Health week organized by the city of Liepaja in May 2011, offering people to have their bloodsugar and cholesterolt levels tested cost free in various districts of the city, as well as providing information materials about diabetes risk factors and healthy lifestyle. Health week in Liepaja has become a traditional event.

Nordic Walking has also become increasingly popular among patients of diabetes, as regular physical exercise is one of essential preconditions to reduce bloodsugar level. Within this project, 16 pairs of walking poles were acquired and walking exercises were arranged twice a month.

In light of promoting active and healthy lifestyle, the Liepaja Diabetes Society has also participated in Nordic Walking Semi-marathon in Liepaja city in the summer of 2011. “The oldest participant from diabetes society is born in 1934, whereas the youngest is born in 1972”, note the members of the Liepaja Diabetes Society.

Continuous successful cooperation with the city of Liepaja, which is also the partner in this project, must also be recognized. “There is no event in the city that takes place without us”, spotlights Ritma Malinovska, as there are 3000-5000 diabetes patients presently in the city who need education on how to adjust to new circumstances.

Diabetes has become a global illness and number of diabetes patients continues to grow. Quite ofthen people who have acquired this disease become reserved, that's why psychological support is also often needed. Approximately six hundred people were involved in a variety of activities organized by the Liepaja Diabetes Society during the implementation of this project.

Article written: September 2011