• Diabetes Project addresses Safe Fasting during Ramadan
    Scott Cunningham and Debbie Wake (Credit: University of Dundee)

News & Views

Diabetes Project addresses Safe Fasting during Ramadan

Mar 09 2023

Specialist diabetes care company MyWay Digital Health has produced ‘Diabetes and Ramadan’ in response to the increased risk of serious health complications faced by Muslim people with diabetes who wish to fast.

Many of these complications, which include low blood sugar, diabetic ketoacidosis and dehydration, can be mitigated by good self-management, awareness of the risks around fasting and diet and adjusting medication. However, many patients lack understanding of these issues and healthcare professionals can fail to appreciate how Ramadan impacts on people with diabetes.

MyWay, a spin-out from the University of Dundee, ran a pilot of the project prior to Ramadan 2022, with both patients and healthcare professionals reporting benefits and have since provided resources such as on-line courses, self-directed online content and live Q&A sessions in English, Arabic and Malay.

The company grew out of the My Diabetes My Way (MDMW) app developed by Drs Scott Cunningham and Debbie Wake at the University of Dundee to enable diabetes patients to manage their condition. The dual Diabetes and Ramadan courses were developed in partnership with Diabetes and Ramadan International Alliance, a non-profit venture that aims to reduce health inequalities through access to healthcare information.

Other collaborators include the University of Edinburgh (where Dr Wake now works), the University of Putra Malaysia, the British Islamic Medical Association (BIMA), and multiple UK health boards.

Dr Salman Waqar, President of BIMA, said, “The holy month of Ramadan is extremely important to Muslims around the world. It is a month of much benefit but for some people, such as those with diabetes, there are obstacles to navigate.

“It is not only patients who may not know how to best adapt. Doctors, nurses, and other health professionals may not understand all the issues around Ramadan, especially in a country like the UK where Muslims form a minority, and professionals may not have been taught this in their training. Put all together, this can lead to inequalities in how Muslims with diabetes experience healthcare.

That is why we were delighted to work with MyWay Digital Health on this project and to help address disparities.”

Launched in 2008 MDMW now has over 62,000 registrants across Scotland and the MyWay Digital health spinout is expanding to develop the service for use in healthcare systems in other countries.

 With most of the knowledge surrounding diabetes accumulated from studying white populations with Western European ancestry, the University of Dundee is deeply involved in efforts to address the resulting global health inequalities. In one example, researchers from its School of Medicine identified distinct forms of type 2 diabetes in South Asians, a development with important implications for prognosis and management of the disease.

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