We’ve been thinking about diabetes education a lot lately – specifically because we’re now in the Top 3 of the DCB Digital Diabetes Innovation Challenge, with our education solution! (We are so excited.) Bridget McNulty explains…
Diabetes education in South Africa
Sweet Life is all about diabetes education. Since 2020, when we deep dived into the available material and research, we’ve been trying to find the right solution for South Africa.
- There’s currently no national diabetes education programme in SA.
- Diabetes self-management education leads to better blood glucose control.
- We know that most of the current diabetes educational materials are disorganised, dense and difficult to understand.
- They’re mostly paper-based, mostly in English – even though only 8.2% of people prefer English.
- There’s often a health literacy level mismatch. The materials are at the Grade 9 to 12 level, the people reading the materials have a Grade 4 to 7 health literacy level.
Foundational diabetes education building blocks
The first thing that emerged from our research was the need for foundational education building blocks: cohesive diabetes education materials. We have since developed those:
A diabetes education solution for South Africa
So what’s the solution?
South Africa has 96% WhatsApp penetration. It’s cheap and easy to use, you don’t have to download a special app, and you can access audio messages if literacy is a problem.
SA Diabetes Chat outlines your diabetes rights, in public and private, and then offers diabetes management advice in the form of audio stories from Gcina Mhlophe (South Africa’s favourite storyteller) in English, isiZulu and isiXhosa.
What would you want to see in a diabetes chatbot?
Our big goal for 2024 is to build out this chatbot to be as truly useful as possible. What advice would you want to get from a diabetes chatbot? Please comment below!
Africa Diabetes Chat pitch
We want to take the concept for SA Diabetes Chat one step further by creating Africa Diabetes Chat – a framework that makes it easier to scale this chatbot solution across other African countries.
Check out the not-quite-final pitch that we did for the DCB Innovation Challenge below to find out more…
What to read next?
Let’s talk about diabetes advocacy: Sweet Life co-founder Bridget McNulty unpacks something personal about life with diabetes, this time she opens up about diabetes advocacy….
Diabetes Advocacy training – you’re invited: SA Diabetes Advocacy has recently launched a 4 week Diabetes Advocacy Training course. It’s entirely online and totally free, and they want to empower as many diabetes advocates as they can.
Let’s talk about diabetes stigma: Is it real? Is it worse for people with Type 2 diabetes? What do we do about it, and how do we make it better?