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Diabetes in Tower Hamlets


Our first health resource, this project focused on tackling the high incidence of diabetes among Bangladeshi communities in Tower Hamlets.

The Need 

The context for this resource included a recent GP Patient Survey 2007 showed that Tower Hamlets Primary Care Trust ranked bottom in terms of how efficiently and regularly their constituents access healthcare services.  The group most affected was the Bangladeshi community and largely those aged under 35 (this was also the group least likely to have satisfactory access across the country).  Tower Hamlets has a large Muslim community (36%) and understanding how religious beliefs and cultural values shape behaviour and attitudes to healthcare is essential if their needs and health problems are to be addressed. At the time Tower Hamlets had a prevalence of diabetes three times higher than average in England and Wales, with an estimated 13,000 - 14,000 people with the condition, largely occurring within the Asian community. The Primary Care Trust has identified diabetes as a priority for the area.

What We Did 

Maslaha used a range of methods to ensure engagement with as wide a group as possible, with an emphasis on listening to patients and working closely with practitioners to ensure resources were developed in a way that would be useful and meaningful to both. The website and DVD were designed so that they could be used within a health setting or at home. Careful consideration was given to style and design as well as to the DVD scripts and text on the website so that the information was accessible and attractive to the user. The resources were greatly enhanced by building relationships with several partners.

A publicity campaign used knowledge of the local area to raise awareness of the new resources and engage with the target population, this included building relationships with local television channels, internet cafes, community organizations and popular community centres. Feedback from patients and health practitioners has been extremely positive. Many have requested similar resources to be produced looking at other illnesses, in other languages, and providing more advanced information. The Diabetes in Tower Hamlets project was presented as an example of good practice at the 2008 NHS London conference - ͚Innovating for a World City͛, as well as winning an award from Diabetes UK for education.


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