Nigeria Diabetes Online Community (NGDOC) and diabetes advocacy work in Nigeria and Africa – by Debbie Bunmi

In 2012, when there was a lot of uncertainty in Nigeria, seven undergraduates of a reputable university started a discussion in their dormitory about the state of healthcare and diabetes awareness in Nigeria. This led to the creation of the Nigeria Diabetes Online Community (NGDOC) in 2013. Just nine days after this official launch on March 10th 2013, the first ever online discussion about diabetes awareness and advocacy in Nigeria was ignited, birthing the diabetes advocacy movement in Nigeria. 

We are now in year 2020, and the NGDOC has tremendously grown, championed and led many educative, supportive, empowering and advocacy projects in Nigeria and throughout Africa. 

@theNGdoc first caught my attention in the later part of 2013, over a year after I joined Twitter. I had been living with type 1 diabetes for over a decade, and I was searching for a community or online platform where I could get substantial content about type 1 diabetes in Nigeria, and @theNGdoc provided that.

Fast forward four years later, after I became good friends with the then Chairman Adejumo Hakeem, M.D. (@hadejumo), I joined the organization as a volunteer. In 2019, I was approached by the Chairman and asked if I would be interested in taking over the running of this awesome organization, which I accepted. It was very scary and super exciting for me at the same time because of the huge responsibility to run a big platform and push the advocacy work around type 1 diabetes and the #insulin4all campaign. 

Interestingly, at @theNGdoc we do mostly offline work because 85% of people we work with aren’t on the internet because of the high cost of phones and internet subscription in this part of the world. Most are living below poverty margin, which has been a big challenge for us @theNGdoc. We discovered through experience that just giving out or buying insulin and other management tools for type 1 diabetes isn’t sustainable in the long run, so we are working on empowering people living with type 1 with sustainable skills. We provide people with the skills to establish start-ups, which will in turn help generate funds so they can afford their insulin whilst going to school or working to cater for their families. 

How can you help us? Donations in cash and in kind really go a long way to keep people with diabetes alive and help them to fulfill their dreams. Since we are still in the process of setting up a platform for web donations, local supporters are welcome to donate in cash. We appreciate international supporters reaching out for virtual volunteer opportunities and following @theNGdoc on Twitter. All kinds of support allow us at @theNGdoc to develop the resources to push the limits in our diabetes advocacy journey. 

Follow @theNGdoc on Twitter here.

Check out our minisode with Debbie here.

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