Abu Dhabi: 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.

The alarming estimation is a result of a report initiated by the National Health Insurance Company (Daman) which says that even though diabetes represents only five per cent of their health insurance claims, a hypothetical future figure had be built around the UAE's highest problematic health condition.

"When we receive claims from patients who require a cardiovascular surgery there's no way we can find out whether diabetes was the initial cause for the condition since we don't have an access to a patients medical history.

The Dh10 billion estimation is based on only five per cent of our claims on diabetes," said Dr Jad Aoun, Chief Medical Officer at Daman.

Dr Alfons Grabosch, Consultant for disease management at Daman added that an average of Dh15,000 is currently spent on diabetes per person a year.

"Everyone who's a payer (patient and government) will end up paying more for diabetic related conditions than ever before if the condition is not tackled immediately. Once expatriates move to the UAE they start to develop an unhealthy lifestyle and play less sports, that has to change," stressed Grabosch.

According to reports published by the World Health Organisation (WHO) the UAE has the second highest diabetes prevalence in the world with 19.6 per cent of population; with approximately 150 million people worldwide living with the condition and the number is expected to double by year 2025.

Healthy diet

"One out of five people aged 20 to 79 already live with this disease, while a similar per cent of the population is at risk of developing it," said Dr Maha Taysir, Medical and Research Director and Consultant Endocrinologist at the Imperial College London Diabetes Centre, Abu Dhabi.

Dr Cother Hajat, Head of Public Health Programmes at the Health Authority Abu Dhabi (HAAD), has published data showing that the current prevalence among UAE nationals aged 30 to 64 is 29 per cent, of which nearly half are undiagnosed and a further 24 per cent are at risk.

Some advice offered by Dr Aoun other than playing simple sports and following a healthy diet is undergoing regular blood tests.

"Blood tests don't cost more than Dh200, and I recommend people do them every three months. Detecting diabetes at an early stage will encourage people to treat the condition, will save a lot of lives and create more transparency among insurers and providers," he concluded.