Peer Educator Project was set up originally to educate and empower members of Black, Asian & Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities about the importance of kidney health, then later about organ and blood donation, and to assist in removing the taboos that traditionally exist within these communities about organ donation.
Started last month, the project in Tower Hamlets will aim to address people from the Bangladeshi Muslim community utilising volunteer Peer Educators from this community.
The initiative is well-founded with around 70% of the area’s population hailing from an ethnic background; approximately 32% of those being Bangladeshi.
In Tower Hamlets, the deprivation levels results in many people starting to have health problems approximately 18 years earlier in life than those living in more affluent parts of the country. This not only has an adverse impact on people’s quality of life, but also on the health and wellbeing of residents, placing a huge demand on limited resources such as hospitals and primary and community care facilities.
Many people in the borough are living with a long term condition and hospital admission rates for heart disease and stroke are above the national average.
Tower Hamlets has a higher prevalence of diabetes – around 6% of those registered with a GP – compared to the London average of 5%, and the level of diabetes amongst the Bangladeshi population is significantly higher at 8-10%. It is estimated that 16% of deaths in adults in Tower Hamlets are attributable to diabetes compared to 12% nationally.
Neerja Jain, Health Improvement Project Manager for Kidney Research UK, said: “In Tower Hamlets alone more than 90 languages are spoken, so it is only logical that we look to members of the local community to educate their peers and dispel the myths surrounding organ donation.
“The role of local Peer Educators will be crucial as the fact is that the Bangladeshi community is well known for being among the most hard to reach. As we have learnt from the Birmingham project, it is imperative that we work closely from the outset with the community and faith influencers in particular.”
By October it is hoped that the majority of Peer Educators will have been recruited and training completed in order to begin engagement and awareness activities.
For more information about how you can get involved with the Tower Hamlets project, or any of the Peer Educator initiatives, email Neerja Jain or call 07810 555 844.
Source: Kidney Research UK