World Health Day – Diabetes

The focus of 2016’s World Health Day is diabetes, which affects around nine in every 100 adults worldwide.

Diabetes can cause damage to the heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys and nerves. However, diabetes and its complications can often be prevented by a healthy diet, regular physical activity and the avoidance of tobacco. According to the World Health Organization, more than 80% of diabetes deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries.

ICM’s 16-week Transform program, run in hundreds of communities across the Philippines, is key in educating its participants and teaches about healthy living and eating. In honor of April 7, 2016 World Health Day and it’s focus on Diabetes, meet ICM recipients Joy Jean and Bernie.

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Joy Jean is 40-years-old with three young sons. She is married to Bernie and their lives have been turned upside down by his diabetes because, recently, Bernie has been unable to work as a farm laborer. His illness has put a further strain on their finances because of money needed for his ongoing medication.


Feeling overwhelmed by the family’s circumstances, Joy Jean accepted the invitation from the local pastor to attend ICM’s Transform program. “I’m not a very sociable person and hadn’t made much effort to get to know other people in the neighborhood,” she says. At times, Joy Jean felt so tired that she was tempted to miss the sessions but she kept going because she knew she was learning important things in the Values, Health and Livelihood classes.

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Joy Jean benefited from Business-in-a-box (BiB) and began cooking puto cheese (steamed cheese cakes) and puto kutsinta (a brown rice dessert), which she now sells to her neighbors. She says, “I receive orders for birthdays, Christmas parties and fiestas, earning around PHP200-300 per batch.” This has meant that she is able to buy food to her children, other daily necessities as well as investing in her new business and saving for her children’s schooling.

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Joy Jean applied at home what she learned about maintaining a healthy diet. “Now we control the kinds of food my husband eats and make sure that he drinks his medicine every day and on time.” she shared.  Joy Jean also has learned how to care for her family in practical ways by making sure they wash their hands regularly and are only drinking purified water.

Joe Jean feels she has grown closer to her sons and says, “I used to take out my anger on my children, but now I’m more patient and talk to them when they make mistakes.”

When the Transform Health Trainer observed that Joy Jean’s two youngest sons were malnourished, they were enrolled in a ICM program separate to Transform, the Home-Based Feeding program (HBF), and received nutrient-enriched rice packs. Over the months, the boys have gradually put on weight.

Although Joy Jean faces daily challenges, she is working hard and succeeding to make a better future for her family. “I am always smiling and have a much more positive outlook – the Transform program has changed my life.”

By Irene Secuelan, ICM Communication Officer and Helen Carruthers, ICM Volunteer

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