0548 GMT February 23, 2020
Celebrities stepping into cultural issues assuming titles such as the ambassadors of different diseases and social harms has become a universal practice.
These individuals’ fame and popularity are used to raise public awareness and encourage people to do charity and health work.
Usually, most people listen to and accept remarks and recommendations by well-known figures and celebrities better. Thus, each day, a larger number of celebrities are appointed as honorary ambassadors in different sectors.
This, celebrities becoming honorary ambassadors, has become a common practice in Iran as well, with famous Iranian figures helping raise public consciousness about issues, such as diseases and social problems, about which people fail to have sufficient knowledge and information.
Diabetes mellitus is one of such diseases. Due to not displaying any symptoms for years it is also known as the silent disease. A large number of people suffering from the disease fail to know, for years, that it is developing in them. This comes as the disease is easily preventable and treatable. The society’s unawareness is the main reason for its spread among the people.
Sam Derakhshani, famous Iranian TV and cinema actor, is currently serving as Iran’s ambassador for diabetes.
Speaking to Iran Daily, he commented on the role played by celebrities in raising public awareness about diseases as well as social and cultural issues.
Excerpts of the interview follow:
IRAN DAILY: In recent years, a large number of celebrities have been appointed as honorary ambassadors in diverse fields. To what extent such a move would prove effective in helping raise public awareness about different issues?
SAM DERAKHSHANI: Due to their popularity among people, celebrities normally come under public spotlight. People generally listen to them better. That is why we see such a move is used all over the world to disseminate information and raise public consciousness about social and environmental issues as well as diseases. In fact, a large number of social harms and diseases stem from cultural issues and people’s unawareness. Celebrities can play a very effective role in raising people’s consciousness. I believe that the idea of appointing celebrities as honorary ambassadors in different sectors is a very good one and that we should use it to solve our problems.
Why did you, from a variety of other issues, choose to become the ambassador for diabetes?
A glance at the figures and statistics, those suffering from diabetes and the problems caused by the contraction of the disease, shows that these is intense widespread unawareness about it in our society. Perhaps, the biggest problem posed by this disease is that there is not sufficient information about it in the society. Some 50 percent out of the circa 11 percent of the individuals suffering from the disease in the Iranian society fail to have any information about their disorder. Thus, I felt that I could play a role in encouraging people to go and take a simple blood sugar test to learn whether they suffer from the disease or not. Diabetes is quite easily preventable.
However, in case, one fails in the on-time detection of the disease, he will definitely suffer from other side effects and disorders, such as liver failure, clogged arteries, blindness and limb amputation. And, eventually, the patient dies.
To what extent have cultural issues and failure in informing people about the disease been effective in its spread?
There have, definitely, been weaknesses in sufficiently informing people about this disease in our society. However, the role of cultural issues should not be overlooked in this regard. Generally, Iranian people do not take many of the social harms and diseases seriously and, thus, do not think of preventive measures unless the symptoms appear.
That is why, according to statistics, an Iranian dies of diabetes every 14 minutes. This does not mean that diabetes has directly been the cause of the death, as the disease can lead to other side effects and disorders in individuals.
A considerable number of heart and brain seizures, causing death, occur as a result of an individual contracting diabetes as the arteries are clogged up by extra sugar in blood.
A large number of social harms and diseases are easily preventable in case people pay more attention to preventive measures.
Iranian actor, Sam Derakhshani, (R) speaks to Iran Daily.