Turkey observes World Health Day with simultaneous events across the country


Syrian and Turkish participants join forces to beat diabetes on World Health Day 2016 at Malumat Community Centre in Gaziantep, Turkey.

Turkey marked World Health Day 2016 with simultaneous awareness and knowledge-raising events across the country. In order to share World Health Day messages, Dr Pavel Ursu, WHO Representative to Turkey, spoke at an event at the Healthy Lifestyle Centre of Ankara Municipality. The event included body mass measurements, healthy nutrition advice from dieticians and healthy refreshments to further strengthen messages about healthy eating.

Dr Ursu also participated in a conference at Başkent University to share key messages about diabetes with university students. "Today, all these activities across Turkey show that we can beat diabetes by joining our efforts," he said. "It is a fact that there is an increasing trend globally, but we know that we can reverse it by joining forces. Not only individuals, but also public and private sectors have an important role to play. Increasing knowledge about diabetes, encouraging and providing opportunities for greater physical activity and improving the availability of healthy foods – all are equally important for beating diabetes."

Gaziantep event focuses on healthy living to combat diabetes

On 7 April 2016, a group of Turkish and Syrian participants gathered at the Malumat Community Centre in Gaziantep. Jointly organized by the WHO Gaziantep Emergency Office and the Community Centre, the event focused on this year's World Health Day theme – "beat diabetes".

"The number of people living with diabetes has almost quadrupled since 1980 to 422 million adults," said Dr Alaa Abou Zeid, Emergency Health Coordinator of WHO's Field Presence in Gaziantep, in his opening remarks. "As this is one of the most important public health challenges of our time, WHO has announced a call for action on diabetes. On this occasion, we want to talk with our Turkish and Syrian brothers and sisters to draw their attention to this issue, and to engage them in the prevention and treatment of the disease."

"Although a large proportion of type 2 diabetes cases are preventable, prevalence is increasing, mostly due to increases in overweight and obesity, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and socioeconomic disadvantage. Simple lifestyle measures have been shown to prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes," explained Dr Tasnim Atarah, WHO Public Health Officer.

As part of the World Health Day celebrations, 2 dieticians from the Non-Communicable Diseases and Programmes Department of Gaziantep Provincial Health Directorate joined the event to give presentations about nutrition. One of them, Zuhal Bulut, explained that healthy food and exercise are the keys to a healthier life. She demonstrated ways of preparing healthy meals, showing how healthy food can be fun to eat. The other dietician, Seda Yüzbaşıoğlu, explained that following a healthy diet can improve the quality life for people living with diabetes.

Participants came away from the event with a greater understanding of both the challenge of diabetes, as well as important steps that can be taken to prevent and treat the disease.