Bank of Palestine, in partnership with Juzoor for Health and Social Development, launched an awareness campaign for the prevention of diabetes in Palestine. The campaign, which is part of the National Campaign for combatting diabetes, was held at the bank’s headquarters in the city of Ramallah, whereby a press conference was held and involved the participation of Mr. Hashim Al Shawa, the Chairman and General Director of Bank of Palestine, Dr. Salwa Najjab, the General Director of Juzoor for Health and Social Development, Dr. Nancy Falah, Director of the Non Communicable Diseases Unit at the Palestinian Ministry of Health, Dr. Layla Ghannam, the Governor of Ramallah and Al Bireh, and Dr. Mahmoud Al Wuhoosh, Deputy Director of Health at UNRWA, with the participation of several health and media organizations and representatives of departments and divisions at Bank of Palestine.

Mr. Hashim Al Shawa expressed his enthusiasm about the launch of this awareness campaign for the prevention of diabetes in Palestine as an initiative by the bank, pointing out that it is an awareness campaign on a national scale held in partnership with Juzoor for Health and Social Development. Al Shawa added that this campaign is a continuation of previous campaigns that were implemented by the bank for the fulfillment of health awareness, among them the campaign about the importance of the early detection of breast cancer, implemented in partnership with the Health Works Committees and Dunya Women’s Cancer Clinic; and “I want to hear” campaign to provide assistance for persons with hearing impairments, implemented in partnership with the Red Crescent Society. Al Shawa pointed out that the bank is often among the first private sector partners to conduct such initiatives that serve human endeavors and social development. He added that the bank’s participation in this campaign is a human message and a national and social duty to assist our society, people and children in avoiding these non-communicable diseases.

According to Al Shawa, Bank of Palestine is aware of the value of partnering with local organizations, because they expand partnerships with civil society and promote involvement with the people. He expressed his pride in that the campaign is part of a national campaign to combat and eliminate diabetes, adding that the importance from which this campaign was launched aims to contribute to the development of special tools for health awareness on a national scale, especially since we discovered that diabetes is widespread in Palestinian society, and is considered the fourth cause of death among Palestinians after heart and cardiovascular diseases, cancer and cerebrovascular diseases.  

Al Shawa revealed the bank’s efforts during the past few years to develop a healthy environment within the bank and implement awareness campaigns in the field of health among its employees in order to maintain a healthy and comfortable work environment. The bank implemented a campaign for all its employees with an aim for them to maintain an ideal weight and promote a healthy environment at the work place. This campaign, entitled “the biggest loser” entailed incentives and involved the participation of 250 employees.

Dr. Salwa Al Najjab pointed out the many and different political, social and economic factors endured by the Palestinian people during the last two decades, which contributed to the acceleration of several non-communicable diseases, among which diabetes was at the forefront, posing a challenge on Palestinian society and a double burden on health and economic development. Al Najjab added that the most important causes that promote the spread of diabetes include rapid urban transition, increase of poverty and unemployment, new living standards, the emergence of new behavioral patterns, dietary patterns and lifestyles, an increase in the consumption of fats, sugars and high calorie foods, fast foods and instant meals, coupled with a significant reduction in the rate of energy, physical inactivity and high rates of obesity, topped with an increase in the rate of mental problems, which include stress and depression, and the marginalization suffered by Palestinians as a result of oppressive Israeli policies, and the complicated economic circumstances, led non-contractible diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure to become unprecedented frontrunners on the list of health problems.  

According to Dr. Najjab, the number of diabetics more than tripled in Palestine during the past 30 years among 15% of the population. Statistics collected by the Palestinian Ministry of Health and the UNRWA indicate that death rates as a direct result of diabetes reached approximately 7%, while one fifth of individuals visiting health centers suffer from diabetes and its consequences and the number of new patients diagnosed with the disease every year exceeds 10,000, and sometimes reaches 15,000 cases, which is considered extremely high.

Dr. Nancy Falah from the Ministry of Health, expressed her gratitude for the efforts conducted by the bank through its partnership with health organizations in order to alleviate and prevent diabetes. She pointed out to the efforts conducted by the Palestinian Ministry of Health to alleviate non-communicable diseases, stating that the rate of persons suffering from diabetes in Palestine is between 14%-15% and it is higher among females because the level of diabetes awareness among females is less than males. Dr. Falah added that the Ministry of Health, in partnership with several organizations, is not only trying to treat diabetes but to also eliminate it completely and prevent the factors that lead to it, including obesity, smoking and other factors.

Dr. Mahmoud Al Wuhoosh from the UNRWA stated that according to several statistics collected by the Ministry of Health and the UNRWA, including global statistics, indicate that diabetes has become among the widespread diseases in Palestine, and it is continuously growing. Al Wuhoosh stressed the importance of combatting diabetes through spreading awareness, practicing sports and conducting regular examinations, or otherwise results will be devastating for many individuals and will incur huge expenses on governments and populations. He added that there are other complications of the disease that affect the kidneys, the eyes, etc. In conclusion, Al Wuhoosh expressed his gratitude towards Bank of Palestine, Juzoor for Health and Social Development, and every organization that contributes to combating diabetes so that Palestinians could live in a healthy environment.