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Diabetes education research: October 2020

Sweet Life’s big focus for 2020 is diabetes education research, in alignment with the Diabetes Alliance. As South Africa’s diabetes community, we offer an online space to share information and advice about living well with diabetes, both here on the website and on Diabetic South Africans. But we also want to help bring this education offline, into people’s lives. Each month, we’ll be sharing the research we’ve done into diabetes education in public clinics, in the hopes that it helps someone else looking for answers to diabetic questions! This is the October report. If you want to read the other months, scroll to the bottom of the page.

diabetes digital health education research 2020

October focus:

The focus this month was on preparing for National Diabetes Month, distributing the Diabetes Food Guide booklet and finalising DiabetesConnect interest. We also discussed the National Digital Health Strategy for South Africa.

DiabetesConnect update:

Following the Diabetes Alliance request that was sent out to all members of the Diabetes Alliance, we are awaiting final feedback before seeing what will be possible. We may need to do a chunk of the project at a time, due to budget constraints because of COVID-19.


Diabetes Food Guide booklet

The Diabetes Food Guide, a collaboration with Pick n Pay and supported by Sanofi, continues to be distributed across South Africa to interested groups. This month, we have sent copies to doctors, dieticians and diabetes groups in Cape Town, Mpumalanga, FIsh Hoek, Klerksdorp and Katlehong. We are sending free copies to any groups that ask for them, and will collect feedback in early December.

National Digital Health Strategy for South Africa

The National Digital Health Strategy outlines the NDoH approach to digital health strategy until 2024. It is an ambitious document with a number of positive plans that could transform healthcare in South Africa.

Items of interest to the Diabetes Alliance include:

“At the heart of the strategy is the vision of ‘Better Health for all South Africans enabled by person-centred Digital Health’. The strategy will benefit patients seeking access to healthcare services, healthcare workers to provide better services, and health systems managers to fulfil their role, empowering all citizens to better navigate their personal health journeys using digital technologies.”

The digital health priorities for this period will be:

  • Development of a complete health electronic record which will improve patient management
  • Digitisation of health systems business processes. That will include digitisation of various health systems to improve efficiency and quality at an institutional level such as human resource, medicine access etc.
  • Establishment of an integrated platform and architecture for health sector information system which will also ensure interoperability and linkage of existing patient-based information system. 
  • Scaling up high impact mHealth for community-based interventions. Within the context of the NHI, it will expand health promotion coverage to the vulnerable groups such as the children, the elderly, women and others who are prioritised
  • Development of digital health knowledge workers working to support digital health as well as economic development

Develop appropriate digital applications and services that improve health services for patients and health workers

A roadmap will be developed to digitise all health systems business processes across the health service platform. A User experience Design (UxD) framework will be established for South Africa to promote user co-design and co-creation of health information systems. A roadmap for achieving an electronic health record for South Africa will be developed to integrate existing solutions on a common platform, prioritising functionality that will enhance service delivery and continuity of care.

Digital health user journeys

Strategic interventions must enable digital health users to make progress along their user journeys. A library of user journeys will be described and shared to provide a common anchor point for all digital health interventions in South Africa. Examples of these digital health user journeys are:

  • maternal journey
  • child health journey 
  • journey of a person living with HIV
  • community health worker journey
  • district nurse journey
  • medical officer journey
  • health asset journey (such as medication)
  • personal health seeking journey

Read the full National Digital Health Strategy here.


Diabetes Alliance cohesive messaging   

Together with the NDoH, we have formulated cohesive messaging around the risk factors for Type 2 diabetes – the secondary message from the IDF (their primary message is that nurses make a difference, which is less urgent in a South African context). The infographic with this messaging, and with space for each Diabetes Alliance member to add their logo, can be found here

National Diabetes Month campaign

Sweet Life’s November campaign is a 1-minute Type 2 diabetes risk factor video that makes it easy to count off risk factors on your fingers, while watching cute pets. It is being distributed on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and our website. We have also shared the video with any companies who are interested, adding their logo where necessary. The idea is to make it fun to watch, so that people will watch the full video and become aware of the risk factors.

As usual, November is a big media month for Sweet Life, with TV, radio and online media engagements. The goal this November is to use the interest created in diabetes by COVID-19 to encourage all South Africans to know the risk factors of Type 2 diabetes, and get tested if necessary. Now that we are all familiar with the lingo of ‘flattening the curve’, we need to start flattening the diabetes tsunami curve.

Next steps: November

  1. National Diabetes Month media campaign.
  2. Read IDF Atlas for any relevant local information.
  3. Meet with behavioural scientist to improve Diabetes Food Guide from a behaviour change perspective.

The 2020 Diabetes Education Project by Sweet Life is supported by Pick n Pay and BD.

Read the whole diabetes education research series:

Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash

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