Members of the not-for-profit group known as Healthy Living Toongabbie Incorporated (HLT Inc.), organise events including shopping centre visits and forums to raise awareness of type 2 diabetes and promote healthy lifestyles in their community.
The group was out in force at Portico Plaza, Toongabbie, on Sunday 21 July to mark National Diabetes Week and encourage conversations with locals about diabetes, said HLT Inc. president and Discount Drug Store owner, Monica Boules.
“Working as a pharmacist in the heart of Toongabbie has opened my eyes to the amount of people living with diabetes and not knowing how to manage it, as well as the number of people who are undiagnosed and at risk of diabetes,” Monica said.
“A lot of the residents we speak to at the shopping centre are of the Sri Lankan or Indian descent and know they are at high risk. They are often surprised to learn that diabetes is easily managed and that, just by changing a few lifestyle factors, they can live a better life.
“It starts with education and getting tested for diabetes by your GP.”
Western Sydney is a diabetes hotspot with type 2 disease rates higher than the New South Wales (NSW) average. Routine testing of patients at Blacktown and Mount Druitt Emergency Departments revealed that 30 per cent have pre-diabetes, while 17 per cent have type 2 diabetes.
Western Sydney Diabetes (WSD) launched a place-based mobilisation initiative in 2017, to enlist trusted local businesses and identities in high-risk suburbs like Toongabbie, to help improve the health of their communities, WSD director, Professor Glen Maberly said.
“Health alone can’t fix the diabetes problem, so we are working closely with community leaders who can raise awareness of the condition and promote healthy choices,” Prof Maberly said.
“Place-Based Mobilisation is an exciting concept as it drives disease prevention by local champions who have the ears of their community and the passion to help them.”
HLT Inc. will also host a Health Living Toongabbie Community Forum at the Toongabbie Sports Club from 5.30pm to 8.00pm on Thursday 19 September, 2019. All welcome.