The Language Challenge of Diabetes Information and Education in Nigeria's Multi-Lingual Setting

The Language Challenge of Diabetes Information and Education in Nigeria's Multi-Lingual Setting

Chinyere Azuka Mbaka
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2091-8.ch014
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Diabetes is a major health challenge in the world, but it can be effectively managed or controlled through diabetes information and education. However, none has dwelt on the language dynamics of communication interactions despite the fact that Nigeria is a multi-lingual nation. Therefore, the study investigates the language challenges faced by persons living with diabetes (PLWDs) and diabetes educators (DEs) in the course of diabetes education in the urban and semi-urban centres of Nigeria. Qualitative methods used to gather information from 120 diabetes patients selected from three health facilities in Ogun and Lagos states. The findings reveal that most diabetes educators use the English language to educate their patients. Reason being that of ease, unavailability of most diabetes education materials in the local languages and a heterogeneous audience made up of different ethnic groups. It is recommended that diabetes educators use locally prepared pamphlets and materials for inclusiveness and good understanding of their patients.
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Diabetes is a debilitating health condition which affects over/about 382 million cases in the world, (IDF Atlas, 2013). It occurs as a result of the inability of the body to produce enough insulin or absorb and use the already produced one. Its etiology is not fully known and is said to have no cure but can be effectively controlled or managed without leading to its many co-morbidities or even death.

According to IDF Atlas (2013), Nigeria has diabetes prevalence of 5.0% and is estimated to rise to 5.7% by 2030 because of the high rate of industrialisation and modernisation which has affected people’s lifestyle negatively. The figure makes Nigeria the highest in Africa alongside Senegal and Cote d’Ivoire sharing the same figure. Efforts have been made by researchers in the health-related fields such as medicine, nursing, biochemistry and pharmacognosy at investigating the causes, signs and symptoms and the treatment and/or management options for diabetes. However, these efforts are not sufficient for the fight against diabetes without taking other social, cultural, economic and religious factors that may affect one’s health into consideration. According to Parrot (2004), health determinants are not only medical or clinical as there are many other factors or variables that affect health outcome. Therefore, the application and integration of communication activities in the health sector is important to address the behavioural and other variables that affect health outcomes, which may not be addressed by the medical sciences.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Diabetes Misconceptions: These are wrong beliefs or notions about diabetes.

Diabetes Information: These are basic facts and information about diabetes condition such as types, causes, symptoms, care and management which can be communicated through any medium (formal and informal) to both diabetics and non-diabetics.

Language Accessibility: The ability of people to read, write and carry out other activities using a particular language.

Indigenous language: This is the language that is native to a particular group of people and spoken by the indigenous people living in the locality.

Health Promotion: The process of using various communication strategies to help people gain control of health determinants and achieve better health status.

Language Acceptability: The ability of a language to be termed appropriate or suitable by a group of people based on certain indices.

Diabetes Mellitus (DM): A chronic disorder of carbohydrate, fat and protein metabolism, having hyperglycaemia (high blood sugar level) as a common feature.

Diabetes Education: A deliberate process through which people with, or at risk of, diabetes gain necessary knowledge and skill required to modify behaviour and successfully self-manage the disease and its related conditions.

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