Dubai, UAE: A diabetes-friendly guide to eating is just one of the resources that has been introduced as part of an initiative to counter the current 19 per cent diabetic population in the UAE.
‘Circle of Care’ will be launched at the beginning of Ramadan – focusing on Emirati diabetic patients first – with phase two reaching out to the wider population in the UAE later this year.
Described as an education and support programme aimed at diabetic patients and healthcare professionals, the three-year initiative seeks to address the findings from a recent local diabetes report, undertaken by Project HOPE in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP).
From choosing high-fibre, slow-release carbs, to being smart about sweets, the ‘Healthy Eating in Diabetes’ menu supports the notion that altering an unhealthy lifestyle is one of the key prevention methods for tackling diabetes prevalence here.
‘Circle of Care’ has been drawn up by the MoHAP in partnership with the Emirates Diabetes Society (EDS) and AstraZeneca Gulf.
Speaking to Khaleej Times following the announcement on Wednesday, Dr Buthaina bin Belaila, Consultant Family Physician and Head of Non-communicable Diseases at the MoHAP said challenges with diet have proven to be a key concern of diabetes sufferers here.
She was one of the 30 UAE-based doctors drafted in to carry out the focus group work with Project HOPE, which eventually led to the launch of ‘Circle of Care’.
“Focus groups were carried out across the UAE, but in Dubai we sat with diabetes patients at two clinics; the Rashidiya Clinic and Muhaisnah Clinic.”
Conducting a two hour interview with 24 patients across both clinics (Emirati males and females), doctors asked questions around the management of the disease, as well as the patients concerns and challenges.
“The consensus was that patients want more help with their diet. They are not aware of what they should and shouldn’t be eating, and which products contain what ingredients.”
Similarly, doctors and nurses expressed the same concerns, she said.
“Healthcare professionals here find it a challenge prescribing dietary prescriptions.”
The report identified some other major gaps and challenges including the need for patients to receive support and education prior to and during Ramadan; and a lack of appropriate education tools.
As a result, a special animated video with a message for patients during Ramadan is to be broadcast online, in healthcare providers’ waiting rooms and through a local Emirati television network.
Along with this, a question and answer booklet tailored for both physicians and patients, with a focus on Ramadan fasting and diabetes self-management, has also been developed, along with support materials providing key tips for diabetic patients during Ramadan.
These materials are focused on Emirati families – pre-diabetic and diabetic.
Other ethnic groups will be targeted in the next phase and tailored materials will then be developed for them.
The materials will be distributed among general practictioners and diabetes specialists across 20 government hospitals and 60-70 primary healthcare facilities in Dubai and the Northern Emirates in phase one.
Current estimations show that of the 19% comparative prevalence for diabetes – an estimated 30 per cent are between 40-59-years-old, with seven per cent between the ages of 20-39-year-old.
Although there is no official registry for diabetes statistics in the UAE, Dr Hussein Al Rand, Assistant Under-Secretary for Health Centres and Clinics at the UAE MoHAP said on Wednesday that an official registry “should be ready by the end of the year”.
Dr Abdul Razzak Al Madani, President of EDS, and Samer Al Hallaq, Area Vice-President for AstraZeneca ME, were both in attendence at Wednesday’s event.
All educational materials will be accessible on www.idf.org from next week, including the names of all clinics taking part.
© Khaleej TimesJun 2016