DMU takes fight against diabetes to Italy


Scientists and medical students set up free health screenings in the streets of an Italian city to help raise awareness of diabetes.

A team from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) teamed up with L’Aquila University and a hospital in Italy’s Abruzzo region to run the screenings, the first time that DMU's diabetes programme has been expanded abroad.

picture - diabetes 2

DMU has been working with charity Diabetes UK since 2015 on screenings in Leicester which have identified hundreds of people who were at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Diets high in sugar and lack of exercise were major risk factors.

Led by Dr Ketan Ruparelia of DMU School of Pharmacy during his recent three-month visit  as an invited visiting sabbatical scholar working closely with academics and students at L’Aquila University, Italy. Among the academics involved were Professor Guido Machiarelli, Professor Romolo Continenza and Italian students Enrica Mancini, Lorenzo Tomei, Chiara Santarelli and hospital consultants Alessandro Appetiti, Luca Barbante and many more volunteers. 

The screenings were part of L’Aquila’s “street science” event to showcase how university research could help communities.

Some 127 people were asked to complete the survey and answer lifestyle questions. The team recorded eight cases where the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes was high; 28 cases of increased risk and 20 people who were advised to make changes to avoid further health issues. In nearly all cases, those judged to be most at risk were aged 50 and over.

picture - diabetes

Dr Ruparelia said he now hoped to share more training and knowledge developed in Leicester with counterparts in Italy.

He said: “The Street Science 2017 was a real success and positively encouraging, bringing together Italian student volunteers, academics and healthcare professionals and the local community together in one day; we even risk assessed L’Aquila University’s Vice-Chancellor’s mother and the whole ceremony was opened by University’s Vice-Chancellor. She acknowledged live on social media their appreciation of this sustainable health awareness project. Since my arrival back at DMU, the initiation has been sustained and the screening continues in local hospitals and shopping centres.

"It's nice to know that this impact work will identify those at high risk of diabetes and relevant help is available. Diabetes UK were also impressed and regularly liked the activities relayed on social media. I was warmly hosted by the staff and students at the university and we aim to further strengthen the partnership between the two universities and the oldest European universities including The Sapienza University of Rome and Bologna University."

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Dr Ruparelia was invited again to present the findings from the Street Science at the 7th International Seminar Conference, where he was awarded the best visiting scholar at the University of L’Aquila, Italy.

At DMU more than 100 students have been trained as community champions for Diabetes UK working in schools, community centres and health organisations. They learn the risk factors associated with Type 2 Diabetes and provide people with information, including making them aware of health services in Leicestershire, to help prevent them from developing the condition, or if they already have it to help them manage it.

Mark Charlton, Head of Public Engagement at DMU, said: “It is tremendous to see the good work being done here at DMU helping those in our partner universities."

Posted on Thursday 28th December 2017

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