UAE | Health

Half of Abu Dhabi deaths in 2011 preventable, health officials say

HAAD launches initiatives to reduce deaths from smoking, cardiovascular diseases and communicable diseases

  • By Samihah Zaman, Staff Reporter
  • Published: 21:30 August 8, 2012
  • Gulf News

Obesity is a major health problem in this part of the region
  • Image Credit: Supplied
  • Among 2,902 fatalities, 1,670 people died from reasons that could have been prevented or controlled, such as cardiovascular diseases, occupational injuries, poisoning and road traffic accidents, said Dr Omniyat Al Hajeri, director of public health and policy at the Health Authority Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi: Nearly 55 per cent of fatalities in the emirate of Abu Dhabi last year were preventable, senior health officials announced in the capital Wednesday.

Among 2,902 fatalities, 1,670 people died from reasons that could have been prevented or controlled, such as cardiovascular diseases, occupational injuries, poisoning and road traffic accidents, said Dr Omniyat Al Hajeri, director of public health and policy at the Health Authority Abu Dhabi (HAAD).

In 2011, 19 per cent of people who underwent premarital screening in the emirate were found to be smokers, with the majority smoking cigarettes and midwakh

Khalid Al Jaberi, department manager for non-communicable diseases at the HAAD

To reduce the number of deaths from preventable causes, the HAAD has therefore drawn up a number of healthcare initiatives that will run in 2012-2013.

Among them is a plan to screen thousands of Emiratis for cardiovascular risk factors in the second wave of the Weqaya screening programme. The programme will encourage Emiratis to have various measures checked, such as blood pressure and blood sugar level, and determine each person’s risk of acquiring cardiovascular disease.

“More than 185,000 Emiratis, representing 97 per cent of the adult population, were screened in the first wave of the programme in 2008. The screenings helped us identify public health problems and introduce initiatives to reduce them,” explained Khalid Al Jaberi, department manager for non-communicable diseases at the HAAD.

In fact, 70 per cent of the population diagnosed in 2008 were diagnosed with at least one cardiovascular risk factor like diabetes. This time around, the screenings will check if various HAAD programmes introduced since then have helped people live healthier lifestyles. In addition, the screenings will also check for Vitamin D deficiencies among the local population, as well as kidney function, to determine if health risks exist in these two areas, Al Jaberi told Gulf News.

“There is still some resistance towards being screened among some people, so we are working to make the tests available at more healthcare facilities across the emirate. In addition, we hope to make the results available within five days of the tests being administered,” he added.

To reduce fatalities from smoking, an ongoing programme is also reaching out to residents in Ramadan to encourage them to quit the harmful habit.

“In 2011, 19 per cent of people who underwent premarital screening in the emirate were found to be smokers, with the majority smoking cigarettes and midwakh. While most smokers are men, nearly 2 per cent of the women screened reported that they regularly smoke shisha or cigarettes,” Dr Farida Al Hossani, manager of communicable diseases at the HAAD, told Gulf News.

There are also various other programmes aimed at encouraging people to get the required vaccinations, be screened for cancer risk, and stay safe at the workplace. They will be conducted under the patronage of Her Highness Shaikha Fatima Bint Mubarak, chairwoman of the General Women’s Union and the Family Development Foundation.

Gulf News
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