News / Health

Mobile Phone App Helps Diabetics During Ramadan in Senegal

Muslims pray before iftar, or the breaking of fast meal, during the holy fasting month of Ramadan at a mosque, July 1, 2014.
Muslims pray before iftar, or the breaking of fast meal, during the holy fasting month of Ramadan at a mosque, July 1, 2014.
Jennifer Lazuta

Senegal has become the first Francophone country to pilot a mobile phone platform, called mRamadan, which helps people with diabetes safely manage their health while fasting.  Diabetics who are testing the new app say it has been quite helpful.

Diabetics in Senegal can now receive -- for the first time -- free, daily text messages with recommendations for fasting before, during and after the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

“mRamadan,” is part of the Be He@lthy Be Mobile program, a joint initiative by the World Health Organization and the International Telecommunication Union that aims to help countries fight non-communicable diseases.

The goal of mRamadan is to help diabetic patients in Senegal safely manage their illness and reduce the number of emergency hospitalizations that normally peak during Ramadan.

Marie Gadio, 26, who was diagnosed with diabetes at age 13, said living with diabetes during Ramadan is not easy.

“It is sometimes difficult because here in Senegal the majority of people are Muslims and because of that no one is eating during the day,” she said. “Certain diabetics just fast as they want, without knowing anything, but now our technology is developing and people can take advice from this program.”

While Islam exempts anyone too young, old, pregnant, or not in good health from fasting, many diabetics say they do try to abstain from food and drink during Ramadan.  They also sometimes stop taking insulin injections, which are needed to regulate blood glucose levels.

Dr. Maimouna Ndour Mbaye, a professor of internal medicine and diabetology who works at the Marc Sankale National Diabetes Center in Dakar, said diabetics can face a number of complications while fasting.

“The first risk is hypoglycemia, which can be very harmful to the brain, in particular," she said. "There is also a risk of hyperglycemia, because when they fast, their diabetes is less controlled.  They cannot take their medication on a regular basis as they do on a normal day.  And this is a risk…and exposes [patients] to complications.”

Mbaye said diabetics are also at an increased risk of dehydration.  People with diabetes who have existing conditions, such as chronic kidney problems, are usually not advised to fast, as such conditions can worsen.

She said that all diabetics should consult with their physicians before deciding if it is safe not to eat.

Ndiaga Diop, 26, who was diagnosed with Type-1 diabetes when he was eight years old, said mRamadan is proving to be a useful tool for people with diabetes in Senegal.

“Before, we had many diabetics who didn’t know what to do during Ramadan, whether they should fast or not, but now with the program, it helps you know what to do while fasting," he said. "Each day we receive messages with advice about what to do or not do. So it’s a very good thing and really helps people.”

Some of the messages include reminding people to drink at least a liter of water each morning before beginning the fast, how to adjust the timing and dosage of diabetes medications, and not to eat too many sugary foods, such as dates, in the evening.

Once Ramadan is over, participants will continue to receive messages about the importance of checking in with a doctor to make sure their diabetes is still well-controlled, and to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle. 

You May Like

US, China Have Dueling Definitions of Cybersecurity

Analysts say attribution or or proving that a particular individual or government is responsible for a hack, is a daunting task More

Snowden: I'd Go to Prison to Return to US

Former NSA contractor says he has not received a formal plea-deal offer from US officials, who consider him to be a traitor More

Goodbye Pocahontas: Photos Reveal Today's Real Native Americans

Weary of stereotypes, photographer Matika Wilbur is determined to reshape the public's perception of her people More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Making a Minti
October 07, 2015 4:17 AM
While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video Self-Driving Cars Getting Closer

We are at the dawn of the robotic car age and should start getting used to seeing self-driving cars, at least on highways. Car and truck manufacturers are now running a tight race to see who will be the first to hit the street, while some taxicab companies are already planning to upgrade their fleets. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Clinton Seeks to Boost Image Before Upcoming Debate

The five announced Democratic party presidential contenders meet in their first debate next Tuesday in Las Vegas, Nevada. Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton continues to lead the Democratic field, but she is getting a stronger-than-expected challenge from Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.

Video Music Brings Generations Together

When musicians over the age of 50 headline a rock concert, you expect to see baby boomer fans in the audience. Boomer rock stars have boomer fans. Millennial rock stars have millennial fans. But this isn’t always the case. Take the Lockn’ Music festival which took place in mid-September in rural Arrington, Virginia. Here, Jacquelyn de Phillips discovered two generations of people who are considered quite different in the outside world, spending 4 days together in music-loving harmony.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video South Carolina Reels Under Worst-ever Flooding

South Carolina is reeling from the worst flooding in recorded history that forced residents from their homes and left thousands without drinking water and electricity. Parts of the state, including the capital, Columbia, received about 60 centimeters of rain in just a couple of days. Authorities warn that the end of rain does not mean the end of danger, as it will take days for the water to recede. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs