Wednesday, 28 September 2011

UAE is in Midst of Diabetes Explosion

UAE is in Midst of Diabetes Explosion

Diabetes is projected to affect a quarter of the UAE population by 2015 and the medical costs due to diabetes and pre-diabetes are projected to rise to an annual Dhs5.14 billion by 2020, reveals an expert.

Diabetes forms the greatest health threat in the UAE today. The cost of living with diabetes in the UAE stood at Dhs2.41 billion in 2010, according to a study released during the World Health Care Congress, says Jan Felton, managing director of Modern Pharmaceutical Company.

“The vast majority of cases in the Emirates is diagnosed as Type 2 diabetes, which is caused by lifestyle factors like poor diet and lack of exercise. Genetically, Emiratis are predisposed to diabetes and are prone to getting the disease more than other nationalities,” he adds.

The economic boom has changed the lifestyle from a nomadic to a highly modernised lifestyle over the past 35 years and this has exacerbated the tendency of getting this condition.

Understanding the need for education, awareness and support to bring about lifestyle change, an alliance of six healthcare establishments have set up “Decide,” a first-of-its-kind concrete and collective effort to stem incidence of the disease in the UAE.

The initiative recognises a better education and greater awareness of the condition to achieve successful prevention and management of diabetes, says Jan Felton, an advocate of the non-profit initiative to fight the disease through increased awareness.

Decide aims to educate and provide with support to help patients and healthcare professionals diagnose, treat and manage the symptoms of diabetes. “The problem is not diagnosis or even how to treat diabetes, it is educating the patients, and most importantly helping them decide to do the right thing and to live life to the full with diabetes,” he indicated.

“The alliance, by pooling their resources together, will be able to reach out to a greater number of people with greater voice to have behavioural change for managing diabetes,” adds Felton.

Decide conveys the “Live life to the full with diabetes” message through an all-round strategy of providing support not only to diabetics and their immediate carers, but also to professional healthcare practitioners such as doctors, dieticians and health authorities.

This holistic approach is further supported by a web-portal,, which will not only disseminate up-to-date information but also act as a platform and forum for diabetes.

“A sedentary lifestyle and unhealthy dietary choices contribute to the increasing concern about the country’s health, as diabetes is a serious and lifelong condition, which if not managed properly may lead to adverse health outcomes and serious complications,” explains Felton.

“Influencing change in behaviour would not only greatly reduce the increasing number of diabetics, but also the incidence of health complications and life-threatening diseases such as cardiovascular and renal failure,” he concludes.

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