Posted on September 28, 2014

Qatar Diabetes Association (QDA), a member of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development (QF), in collaboration with Sasol Qatar,has introduced new educational tools intended to reduce the fear and anxiety often associated with diabetes in young children.

Custom-made for QDA, Salem and Sarah are plush characters developed to provide educational support and comfort for children living with type 1 diabetes in Qatar and across the region; an initiative that supports Qatar Foundation in its mission to be a catalyst for change by leveraging its experiences, knowledge and capabilities. The toys contain a hidden, zipped compartment on their back where children can keep their diabetic testing equipment, and each toy is accompanied with a backpack and video. Mascots Salem and Sarah have clear injection sites on their arms, legs, and stomach.

Around 1,000 plush toys will be used in QDA camps for children with diabetes, as well as distributed through the Newly Diagnosed Programme in collaboration with Hamad Medical Corporation. Through the use of these playful learning tools, Sarah and Salem will also raise awareness of the various lifestyle changes that children living with diabetes, and their families, will have to face. Speaking at a press conference on Sunday to announce the initiative, Dr Abdulla Al-Hamaq, Executive Director of Qatar Diabetes Association, said: “We thank Sasol for their leadership and support, ensuring that this important initiative reaches and impacts the children who need it.

“We have been working on creating educational programmes that provide support to children with type 1 diabetes. We are very grateful that Sasol and The Art of Business brought this idea, as well as offered us the financial support to create these mascots.” Sasol is an international integrated energy and chemical company that leverages the talent and expertise of more than 35,000 people working in 37 countries. Sasol develops and commercialises technologies, and builds and operates world-scale facilities to produce a range of product streams, including liquid fuels, chemicals and electricity.

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Commenting on the project, Marjo Louw, President of Sasol Qatar, said: “Sasol is pleased to support this important programme, in collaboration with the Qatar Diabetes Association. Through our community initiatives,we are committed to help support individuals facing challenges to reach their ambitions. “I hope these plush toys help children and their families in coping with the diagnosis, providing useful information, and improving their ability to enjoy life’s pleasures. Hope and joy are integral in helping children tackle health challenges.” 

Around 16.7 percent of Qatar’s total adult native population suffers from diabetes with 23.11 per 100,000 children diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, according to data from Hamad Medical Corporation. There is no cure for diabetes, and patients must carefully monitor their blood-sugar levels or risk damaging health complications. In some cases, poor management of diabetes can lead to blindness, loss of limbs and severe nerve pain. Diabetes is a condition that children may find hard to understand, especially considering that treatments are complex and daunting. Salem and Sarah are fun, light-hearted character mascots that aim to bring diabetes and its treatment to an approachable and comprehensible level.

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