Wednesday, 22 January 2014 14:06

Sask. Lions clubs to participate in unique diabetes detection program

Written by  Matthew Liebenberg
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Lions clubs across Saskatchewan will participate in an innovative diabetes detection program over the next two years that will make it easier for people to determine if they are at risk to develop Type 2 diabetes.

The program, which will be carried out in partnership with the Canadian Diabetes Association, aims to hold 50 or more diabetes screening and education events in communities during the two-year period.
There are 154 Lions clubs and 23 Lioness clubs in the province. These clubs have been partnering with the Canadian Diabetes Association for over 25 years on the Travelling Diabetes Resource Program (TDRP) and other initiatives.
Saskatchewan Lions Provincial Liaison Calvin Bachmeier, who is also the secretary of the Leader Lions Club, said the new program makes a lot of sense.
“One of the major focuses of the Lions is the blind and one of the leading causes of blindness is diabetes,” he explained. “So it fits right in with the general philosophy.”
Lions clubs that decide to participate in the program will receive training in the use of a diabetes screening tool, the Canadian Diabetes Risk Assessment Questionnaire (CANRISK).
“One of the reasons we embarked on this with the Canadian Diabetes Association is they don’t have the labour to run these screening clinics,” he said. “The other thing is that if it’s a clinic in a local community that is being run by the Lions club, it gives it instant credibility.”
The questionnaire uses information about a person’s age, weight, height, physical activity and family history to determine their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
“It is not a hundred per cent diagnosis, but it gives direction to whether or not you have diabetes or not,” he said. “And one of the great problems with diabetes is in many cases it goes undetected. People have it but they don’t realize that they do. As a result, it takes a crisis situation before they realize that they even have it.”
Lions members will host events in their communities where the questionnaire can be administered and the results interpreted by a diabetes expert from the Canadian Diabetes Association.
“It will be instantaneous,” he said. “As they proceed through the line, the results will be printed off by the Lions members and then the expert will look at those results and will advise the people as to what they should be doing — whether there is no sign of diabetes or whether they should be talking to their physician. In rare cases — about five per cent of the time — they recommend that people go and seek immediate medical attention.”
The first training for Lions members from the northern part of the province took place Jan. 18 in Saskatoon and training for the southern half of the province is scheduled for Jan. 25 in Regina.
This initial intake will provide training to around 20 Lions clubs and they will host events in their communities this winter. More clubs will be trained in the fall and early in 2015, which should result in close to 60 clinics.
“We are cautiously optimistic that this is going to be a very good program,” he said. “I think once we get it out there and some of the clubs see how easy it is to run, I don’t think we’re going to have any trouble at all in reaching our goal of 50 clinics, and hopefully surpass it.”
According to Bachmeier, there has already been interest in the program from clubs in southwest Saskatchewan.
“I’ve had indicators from a number of clubs in the southwest, especially the rural clubs and in those medium-sized towns,” he said.
Saskatchewan Lions Clubs received a grant of $118,000 from Lions International for the diabetes detection program, which has not been done before in Canada.
“This is totally something made in Saskatchewan,” he said. “We decided that we would take on this project. It took a lot of negotiations with Lions International to write the grant in such a way that it would be acceptable to them.”
Participating Lions clubs will be responsible for 25 per cent of project cost through in-kind contributions such as paying for their own travel costs to attend training, providing a facility to host the clinics and providing some light refreshments.
Bachmeier has already received a couple of e-mails from Lions clubs in the United States that are interested in the program.
“It is a different sort of approach and their situation is no different than ours really,” he said. “They have the same needs in their communities that we do and by early detection people can be given the right medical advice and make some lifestyle changes.”

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