The dedicated band of volunteers led by Dr G. Vijayakumar, senior Diabetologist and chairman of Medical Trust Hospital and Diabetes Care Centre at Kulanada near Pandalam, has won the first International Social Media Award instituted by the Denmark-based World Diabetes Foundation (WDF) for the Global Diabetes Walk (GDW) held in connection with the World Diabetes Day on November 14, 2011.

The award comprised of cash prize worth $ 7,500 and a citation.

Announcing the award, the panel of judges, Prof Ida Nicholaisen and Prof Pierre Lefebvre, both members of the WDF board of directors, said: “the Pathanamthitta-Alappuzha Diabetes Walk in Kerala had a strong strategy highlighting the number ‘14’ in innovative ways. The walk took place over 14 days, passing 14 towns between Pathanamthitta and Alappuzzha. Each Walk was led by a student representing the next generation and this fit very well into the campaign’s main message of diabetes prevention. As many as 17,400 people walked, but the campaign also lived a parallel life on social media. This campaign was led by a dedicated team which deserves the recognition of receiving the GDW-2011 award.’’

Talking to The Hindu, Dr Vijayakumar, accompanied by his close associate, Dr Kurien Oommen, said the prize money would be effectively utilised for furthering diabetes awareness among the people across the State.

‘Walk to Health’

‘Walk to Health and say NO to diabetes’ was the catchword coined by Dr Vijayakumar and his team as part of the WDF-supported diabetes control and prevention programme launched in Pathanamthitta district in 2008.

The programme created waves in the public domain with the team spreading its wings to the school campuses in the district, popularising the message of ‘Walk to the Health’.

The WDF-supported programme aims at prevention of diabetes and other lifestyle diseases through a targeted approach. It targeted school children, teachers and parents as an effective medium to address the community as a whole, creating proper awareness and a healthy environment at houses, schools and the surroundings in an attempt to reduce the risk factors, , says Mr G. Dileepan, project manager.

The project was extended to the neighbouring district of Alappuzha too, later, in association with the district panchayat. ‘Walk to Health’ forums were initiated at various schools in the two districts.

14-day walk

Mr Vijayakumar and his team had organised a 14-day Walk to Health awareness campaign, covering 196 kilometres in the two districts. The campaign, formally launched by Chief Minister, Oommen Chandy, came to a close with a massive Global Diabetes Walk in Alappuzha on November 14.