Dubai: The UAE on Wednesday launched a multi-million-dirham campaign against diabetes, specifically targeting mothers, in a bid to halt the pandemic which the minister of health said will take years to contain.
Dr Hanif Hassan, Minister of Health, said the ministry is working with Johnson & Johnson, which he said is a "wonderful example of public and private sector cooperation to serve the community".
He said 24 per cent of the UAE population (1.4 million people) suffers from diabetes. "There are so many patients in hospitals suffering from other complications from the disease," he said, adding that the government spends a "huge amount of money" on treatment of diabetics.
The Cabinet has approved the ministry's suggestion that 2009 be the year to fight diabetes, the minister said. "We need to educate and make people aware of the disease," he said. The slogan of the campaign is ‘Learn, Prevent, Control'.
The minister said researchers are needed and the ministry is looking and learning from international good practices.
Wim Boogaerts, Chairman of Johnson & Johnson Corporate Citizenship Trust - Middle East, said the "Healthy Family" initiative is being funded for three years.
"Walkathons and giving out free T-shirts is good, but it is the day after that counts," he said. "You need something sustainable." He said that it is not the doctors and nurses, but people at home who can make a big impact on lifestyle choices.
He said as early screening is important, it will start at schools and then continue in shopping malls and companies. The executive said as part of the strategy doctors and nurses will be trained on the management of diabetes.
He said the Juvenile Diabetes Education Centre, which was established last year in the Dubai Healthcare City has helped people manage and live with the disease.