This year's Dussehra will mark the victory of good over evil in more than one symbolic way for Delhi residents. A campaign projecting victory of widespread awareness about diabetes over ignorance will be part of the festivities.
Delhi's Ramlila Maha Sangh, in partnership with Sanofi Diabetes Blue Fortnight, Tuesday embarked on a unique, 10-day diabetes awareness campaign, "Diabetes Ke Complications Ka Raavan Jalao," across 1,100 Ramlila venues throughout the city in the run-up to Dussehra.
The Sanofi Diabetes Blue Fortnight is an initiative of NGO Heal Foundation, ministry of health and family welfare, International Diabetes Federation and Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).
The campaign will involve educating people through information and tips on prevention, diagnosis and management of the condition. Messages will be disseminated via public address systems at venues and through posters and hoardings.
The Ramlila Maha Sangh and Heal Foundation have also issued a public appeal imploring Delhiites to celebrate Diwali with a difference this year and join the Blue Diwali campaign by illuminating their homes with blue light.
"When Heal Foundation approached us to collaborate with them and generate awareness about diabetes using our Ramlila shows as a platform, we thought there could be no better cause for us to support," said Ramlila Maha Sangh general secretary Mahendra Nagpal.
"We record about 5,000-7,000 footfalls at each of the 1,100 venues across the city where Ramlila performances are organised, so we will be reaching out to a lot of people," he added.
Swadeep Srivastava, principal consultant of the Heal Foundation, said: "We are deeply dedicated to the cause of diabetes awareness and prevention. Ramlila is a wide-reaching, unique social platform that presents people who are likely to benefit from the much-needed awareness about prevention and diagnosis of the condition."
Heal Foundation has partnered the health ministry for the last two years to drive the high-intensity Diabetes Blue Fortnight campaigns that usually culminate on World Diabetes Day, on Nov 14. This year DBF is being sponsored by Sanofi and Nirlife NutraSweet.
"The colour blue signifies the sky, which epitomises the spirit of this campaign since the sky encompasses the whole world while maintaining its singular entity, reflecting the spirit of unity. The concept of illuminating iconic buildings and sites with blue light was introduced for the first time in India by HEAL Foundation through the Diabetes Blue Fortnight campaign in 2010," a statement said.
Last year, 70 monuments including Swaminarayan Akshardham Temple and Old Fort, among many others in Delhi, were lit in blue as a part of the campaign.
"There is a serious lack of awareness related to all aspects of diabetes. Education about warning symptoms, extent of risk factors related to the disease, importance of regular monitoring in diagnosed patients, high incidence of genetic predisposition towards the condition and other related issues need to be accorded top priority."
"Public campaigns like Diabetes Blue Fortnight are needed to bridge this gap in awareness amongst the masses and fuel health-related conversations in social settings such as family units," said Anoop Misra, chairman of the Fortis CDOC Centre for Excellence for Diabetes and Metabolic Diseases.
Presently, about one-third of Delhi's population is living with diabetes. However, experts fear the actual number to be much greater since about 70 percent of diabetics in India have never been diagnosed.