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Tino: My Journey as a Diabetes Advocate in Zimbabwe

I first worked with Tino (aka The Diabetic Mogul) when we were both volunteer organisers for the T1D Festival in London with 'League of Diabetes' in October 2023. Since then, I have been in awe of Tino, the impact he makes in the diabetes community, his dedication, and the joy he spreads to the people he meets. Please enjoy this guest blog from Tino!


Until Next Time,

Alyssa

Hello, I'm Tinotenda Dzikiti, a global advocate and podcaster from Zimbabwe. I've been living with type 1 diabetes since 2010 and manage it through insulin injections and continuous glucose monitoring technology. I'm passionate about advocating for NCD awareness and support.


How did you first get started in diabetes advocacy, and what made you interested in it?


My journey into diabetes advocacy began in late 2019 when I had the opportunity to participate in a diabetes advocacy camp. This experience exposed me to a diverse group of like-minded youth from across Africa who were passionate about raising awareness and advocating for better care and support for people living with diabetes. The camp was a transformative experience that ignited a fire within me to become more actively involved in advocacy efforts.


Can you share the story behind the creation of the Global Diabetes Insights podcast? What motivated you to start this platform?


Global Diabetes Insights evolved from the Diabetic Mogul Podcast, a platform initially designed to share insights and experiences within the diabetes community. Motivated by a desire to broaden the conversation and provide a more inclusive platform, Global Diabetes Insights was born. Teaming up with my esteemed colleague Konstantina Taki, we sought to create a space where experts, advocates, and individuals living with diabetes could share their stories and knowledge. Our goal is to educate, inspire, and empower the global diabetes community while fostering unity and support.


Your work with the Young Leaders in Diabetes (YLD) initiative is remarkable. What inspired you to become involved with this organization, and what impact do you hope to achieve through your contributions?


I was deeply motivated to join the Young Leaders in Diabetes (YLD) initiative by my personal journey with diabetes and a strong desire to effect meaningful change within the diabetes community. Recognizing the significant challenges and complexities that individuals living with diabetes, especially young people, encounter daily, I felt compelled to lend my voice and efforts to advocate for impactful changes. In Zimbabwe, where resources for diabetes management are limited, being nominated by an IDF member association from my country was a pivotal moment. It reinforced my commitment to making a difference and highlighted the importance of local advocacy in addressing global health challenges. My primary goal within the YLD initiative is to raise awareness about diabetes, particularly among young people, and to advocate for improved access to quality care, education, and support services. By sharing my experiences and insights, I aim to inspire and empower others to take charge of their health and well-being. Through collaborative efforts and meaningful partnerships, I hope to contribute to a future where diabetes is better understood, managed, and ultimately, where stigma and discrimination against individuals with diabetes are eliminated.

#dedoc° is an innovative initiative in the diabetes community. Could you elaborate on your involvement with #dedoc° and how it's contributing to improving the lives of people with diabetes?


My involvement with #dedoc° has been incredibly rewarding. Since 2020, I've collaborated with other advocates and healthcare professionals to drive positive change in the diabetes community. #dedoc°'s focus on education, advocacy, and support has helped to improve the lives of people with diabetes by providing valuable resources, information, and a supportive community. This initiative has created a platform for people with diabetes, healthcare providers, and industry leaders to come together, exchange ideas, and work towards a common goal of improving diabetes care and management worldwide.


Zimbabwe faces unique challenges in managing diabetes. Could you shed some light on the current diabetes situation in Zimbabwe, and what efforts are being made to address the issue?


Zimbabwe faces unique challenges in managing diabetes, primarily stemming from limited access to healthcare services, medication, and education. Despite these challenges, concerted efforts are underway to address them. The country has implemented awareness campaigns, community outreach programs, and partnerships with organizations such as the International Diabetes Federation, Life for a child. These initiatives aim to enhance access to care, raise awareness about diabetes, and empower individuals living with the condition to actively manage their health. Additionally, the PEN-Plus clinics in Zimbabwe have been instrumental in providing specialized care and support for those affected by severe forms of diabetes, contributing significantly to improving outcomes and quality of life for patients.


As an advocate, what do you believe are the most pressing issues surrounding diabetes on a global scale, and how do you envision overcoming these challenges?


One of the most pressing issues facing the global diabetes community is the limited access to affordable healthcare and medications, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. This lack of access exacerbates the already significant burden of diabetes-related complications and mortality rates in these regions. To address these challenges effectively, it is imperative to prioritize comprehensive diabetes education programs that empower individuals to manage their condition effectively. Additionally, efforts should focus on improving access to essential healthcare services, including regular screenings, medication, and diabetes management tools. Advocating for policy reforms that promote affordable and equitable healthcare for all individuals living with diabetes is crucial. By addressing these key areas, we can work towards reducing the burden of diabetes and improving the quality of life for millions of people worldwide.


Could you share a memorable experience or success story from your journey as a diabetes advocate that has deeply impacted you?


One of the most impactful moments in my journey as a diabetes advocate was when I had the opportunity to provide peer-based diabetes education and support to adolescents and young adults at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals in Zimbabwe. Witnessing the transformation in these individuals as they gained knowledge, skills, and confidence to manage their diabetes was incredibly fulfilling. One particular encounter that stands out is when a young girl, newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, approached me after a session. She was overwhelmed and scared, unsure of how to navigate this new chapter in her life. Through our conversation, I could see her demeanor change from fear to hope as she realized that she was not alone in this journey. Over time, I watched her become more empowered and proactive in managing her diabetes. She started sharing her experiences with others, offering support and encouragement. Seeing her resilience and determination to live well with diabetes reminded me of the profound impact advocacy can have on individuals and communities. It reinforced my commitment to continue advocating for better diabetes care, education, and support for all those affected by this condition.


In your opinion, what are some misconceptions about diabetes that you encounter frequently, and how do you work to dispel them?


One common misconception about diabetes is that it only affects older people or those who are overweight. In reality, diabetes can affect anyone, regardless of age, weight, or lifestyle. To dispel this misconception, I work to raise awareness about the different types of diabetes and the factors that contribute to its development. I also emphasize the importance of early detection and management to prevent complications.


What advice would you give to individuals who are newly diagnosed with diabetes or those who are looking to become more involved in diabetes advocacy and support efforts?


For those newly diagnosed with diabetes, my advice would be to educate yourself about the condition, seek support from others living with diabetes, and work closely with your healthcare team to develop a management plan that works for you. For those looking to become more involved in advocacy, I would encourage you to use your voice to raise awareness, share your story, and advocate for change. Together, we can make a difference in the lives of people living with diabetes.


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1 Comment


Guest
May 08

Absolutely thrilled to see my blog published! Thank you so much, Alyssa, for your hard work and dedication. I'm excited to share this with the world and hopefully inspire others in the diabetes community.

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