Diabetes in the Developing World
Charting the future of public relations
Holmes Report

Diabetes in the Developing World

The global diabetes population is predicted to grow to over 330 million by 2025, with developing countries bearing the brunt of this epidemic1 and estimated cases in Africa increasing by almost 100% by 2010.2

Paul Holmes

The global diabetes population is predicted to grow to over 330 million by 2025, with developing countries bearing the brunt of this epidemic1 and estimated cases in Africa increasing by almost 100% by 2010.2 However, estimates show that African countries use less than ten percent of their public health budgets on the prevention and treatment of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), including diabetes,3 and of the $4.25 billion the World Bank loaned to countries for health sector work between 2000-2005, only 2.5% was allocated to NCDs.3 A highly targeted media campaign designed to address this issue reached over 20 million people and generated coverage of the growing diabetes problem in Africa in key international and local media.


The multi-faceted media event comprised of a press conference, a field visit to WDF community-based pilot clinics and interview opportunities with doctors, patients and global leaders in the diabetes arena. It was held during the Diabetes Summit Africa in June 2007, organised by the WDF and supported by the Kenyan Ministry of Health (MoH) and the World Health Organization (WHO) Africa. As a result, partnerships focusing on NCDs were created with the WHO AFRO office; the WHO 2008-2009 Programme Budget in the African Region was approved to include strategies on food safety and diabetes prevention and control; the activities helped further support the WDF’s efforts to initiate new WDF projects in collaboration with local governments across Africa.


The Challenge

The WDF tasked B2 with creating a media event to leverage the Diabetes Summit Africa; a congress bringing together global health experts, African health ministers, donors and national health authorities. The challenge for B2 was to convince media, particularly African, and target audiences of the impact of the diabetes epidemic in Africa, since communicable diseases, such as HIVIV/AIDS and malaria, are perceived as the major threats in these regions and hence tend to receive more publicity and funding from bilateral and multilateral donors.


Research , Planning and Objectives


• Highlight the increasing health and socio-economic burden of diabetes in Africa.

• Showcase the success of the Kenyan pilot clinic in order to encourage additional partnership projects between the WDF and African governments focusing on diabetes prevention and care.

• Ensure future funding from international Non-Governmental Organisations is directed towards NCDs.

• Secure attendance of ten African and five non-African journalists; resulting in coverage and audience reach of 50 million people worldwide.

B2 reviewed global diabetes statistics and conducted an extensive media audit in each market. Given the minimal budget of £30,000 and diverse media targets, success depended on connecting the right media with the most relevant story angle. After gathering media intelligence through our affiliate network, it was clear the focus needed to be on broadcast (primarily radio and also TVTV), as this is the key medium to reach mass audiences in remote and sometimes illiterate communities in Africa. National and international print media were identified as the key channels to reach policy makers, donors and healthcare authorities. Awareness of the diabetes threat in developing countries was low amongst African media, providing a solid news hook.


Strategic App roach


• Develop a truly multi-faceted and global media campaign utilising radio, TVTV and print in order to raise awareness of diabetes in Africa and secure funding and commitment to diabetes prevention and care from both local African governments and global funding bodies.

• Create an empowering, yet empathetic campaign, to help communities understand the importance of prevention and seeking diagnosis of diabetes.

• Highlight the manner in which the WDF works with governments at a country level, ensuring projects are sustainable and feasibly implemented in the long term.

• Engage influential individuals in the diabetes community as spokespeople and ambassadors to assist penetration of campaign at the grassroots level.


Campapaign Execution

• B2 identified appropriate spokespeople to present at the press summit, including the Managing Director of the WDF, project partners from the International Diabetes Federation, the WHO and diabetologists from the local region who could provide insights into the pilot projects conducted by the WDF and partners.

• In light of the upcoming national elections, B2 highlighted attendance of the Kenyan MoH to African media.

• B2 produced key media messages highlighting prevalence, socio-economic burden and the need for prevention and action; a media alert and invitation; a backgrounder on the WDF; and a press release, endorsed by the WHO country office in

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