Diabetes | Crusader for good health

Nov 19 2018
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Crusader for good health
Obesity and diabetes are public health cOncerns. raK diabetes centre encOurages peOple tO get prOactive tO defeat it and stay healthy.

In the last few years, there has been greater visibility of measures promoting fight against diabetes and obesity. This is especially true in the UAE where a number of corporates are promoting fitness activities through sponsorships to marathons, walks, yoga and other forms of exercise. Prominent health care institutes too, such as the RAK Hospital, have significantly contributed to this drive by launching dedicated centres for diabetes care. RAK Hospital opened its first Diabetes Centre in Dubai a couple of years back, and since then has launched many initiatives in the interest of public good. RAK Diabetes Centre had tied up with corporates in Dubai last year and conducted free health check-ups for 30,000 individuals.

Despite such wide-scale efforts, the ground realities are hardly changing. The International Diabetes Federation notes a 35 per cent rise in the number of patients diagnosed with diabetes in the UAE last year. In 2014, the number of diabetic patients stood at 803,940; and in 2015, 280,000 more cases surfaced, taking the total count to over one million. Comparatively, 415 million people had diabetes globally last year, and the figure is expected to reach 642 million by 2040. Obesity is rising at a fast pace and becoming an epidemic that is enveloping the world in its cloak. It is a critical factor to the formation of diabetes and
cardiovascular diseases, and leads to several other diseases. Worryingly, for the first time in the history of modern recordkeeping, obesity has emerged as one of the biggest health concerns worldwide. In 2015, the number of obese people in the world outpaced the number of undernourished for the first time, reports The Lancet, a UK-based medical journal.

A Costly Affair
Complications from diabetes are known to be a major cause of blindness, kidney failure, heart attacks, stroke and lower limb amputation. Poor dietary choices, an inactive lifestyle and heredity risk factors are some of the top reasons behind its rising incidence. The World Health Organisation projects that diabetes will be the seventh leading cause of death in 2030, unless concerted and practical efforts are made to raise awareness against the disease. The startling statistics regarding diabetes in the UAE are driving enormous associated costs borne by the government, civil society, and private sectors. Direct treatment of diabetes constitutes approximately 40 per cent of the UAE’s overall healthcare expenditures. “In 2011, the total cost of diabetes to the emirates was nearly $6.6 billion or 1.8 per cent of GDP, higher than in any other GCC country. As diabetes is predicted to escalate in the region, associated costs will skyrocket. By 2020, if current trends continue, diabetes may cost the country $8.52 billion. The growth of diabetes is so serious that healthcare systems are already struggling to cope with treatment costs. The high level of undiagnosed and poorly controlled diabetes threatens to lead to an increase in related complications and to increased healthcare costs in the future,” says Raza Siddiqui, CEO, Arabian Healthcare Group. In the UAE, patients on an average cough up Dh15,000 a year for medications, and check-up. Research and statistics report on diabetes across the UAE suggest that the disease will cost an estimated Dh10 billion by year 2020, if the condition is not treated.

RAK Diabetes Center
“We planned a special centre for diabetes with a mission to increase awareness, education, reduce incidence of diabetes (in overweight and pre-diabetic patients), and avoid complications due to a late diagnosis of diabetes,” says Siddiqui.
RAK Diabetes Centre focuses on providing complete medical care, education and support. The centre offers a holistic approach to diabetes management, which includes preventing diabetes as well as related complications. The centre offers comprehensive and holistic diabetes care by providing access to a multidisciplinary team including cardiologists, ophthalmologists, endocrinologists, diabetes educator, dietitian, podiatrist, internist and general practitioner, all under one roof.
In line with the World Health Organisation’s 2016 theme, ‘Beat Diabetes’, RAK Diabetes Centre has launched a massive complimentary screening programme, which is open to all associations and companies in Dubai and in the Northern Emirates. “It is a first-of-its-kind awareness and prevention campaign in the UAE, and the centre aims to partner with a number of organisations to provide a holistic and comprehensive diabetes screening to at least 30,000 UAE residents this year,” says Siddiqui. The
Prevalence initiative will run until April 2017. The comprehensive screening includes tests for BMI, blood pressure, fasting blood sugar, body composition analysis as well as consultation with RAK clinical dietician and diabetes educator. Screening will also include HBA1C
test to measure the body’s blood sugar level over a period of weeks/ months. Conducted at the RAK Diabetes Centres in Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah, the centres on an average receive 80 to 100 people. Thus assisting UAE residents with early speciality care and
educating them in managing diabetes in everyday life.

Staggering numbers
Globally, roughly 422 million people live with diabetes and in the UAE around 19.3 per cent of UAE residents are affected by it. However, there is still a large population who is either on the verge of getting diabetes or already living with it, but is unaware. RAK Diabetes Centre’s initiative is catered to reach out to this particular segment as well as thousands of other people who need to understand the severity of the disease and the lifelong impact it can have on their lifestyle.
“Logistically speaking, pushing the initiative via organisations is the most practical route, since we can now reach out to a much bigger number of people. We would like the organisations to play an active role in this regard, since healthier employees would mean better productivity at work, fewer sick leaves and a high morale in general. We’ve also involved families mainly to help stagger the alarming rise of diabetes in children, particularly Type 1 diabetes,” says the CEO.
“RAK Diabetes Centre has invested millions in this initiative with the sole purpose of creating a diabetes-controlled UAE, and in effect a healthier environment for both adults and children. Our aim is to help control a disease that is not only the root of several other ailments but eventually a severe burden on the health budget of any country. We are aiming to continue the campaign until next April, but depending on the outcome we hope to take it forward another year,” adds Siddiqui.

Health Advisory
The UAE government and leadership are aware of this surmounting health challenge and has set a target to reduce the prevalence of diabetes from the
current 19 per cent to 16.3 per cent by 2021. Some factors such as ethnicity, family history and age play a big role in developing type 2 diabetes. However, the biggest contributor to it is an individual’s lifestyle choice. A sedentary lifestyle combined with excessive food consumption leads to obesity and eventually to diabetes.
The silver lining to the growing problem, however, is that diabetes can be controlled by following a proper diet, regular physical exercise, and timely medication. Patients and people susceptible to the disease can manage it effectively and lead a relatively normal life.

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