The Dubai Diabetes Centre at Latifa Hospital. Image Credit: Pankaj Sharma/Gulf News Archives

Dubai: Alarming statistics about the rise of Type 2 diabetes in the UAE and the setting up of a pan-UAE diabetes registry by the end of 2015 to track the prevalence, management and prevention of the disease, are some of the highlights of the data presented at the 5th Emirates Diabetes and Endocrinology Congress.

The three-day Congress (February 19-21) that was inaugurated by Shaikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and UAE Minister of Finance, and President of Dubai Health Authority (DHA) is expected to witness the participation of up to 3,000 health care professionals consisting of doctors, nurses, and educators from Middle East and other Asian countries.

Revealing the latest outcomes of the UAE National Diabetes and Lifestyle Survey, Dr Nabil Sulaiman, acting head of family and community medicine at the University of Sharjah, said the prevalence of diabetes had crossed 19 per cent of the total population, with impaired diabetes reaching 15.3 per cent. Highlighting the need of a change in lifestyle, he said: “the study interestingly observed that a high 10.6 per cent of Asians and 11.7 per cent of Arabs were found to be diabetic as compared to 3.6 per cent among Africans and Westerners.

A new factor that emerged in the study was the fact that chances of occurrence of the disease directly correlates to snoring, while other contributory factors included age, BMI over 25, family history and high triglyceride levels.

Emphasising on the need to streamline the national diabetes screening programme, Dr El Daw Sulaiman, adviser strategic planning of corporate excellence department, DHA, said it was important the endocrinology community could draw reliable conclusions, set future targets and design effective prevention programmes. He pointed out that a DHA Survey conducted on diabetes in 2009 and 2014 covered 5,000 households that included both nationals and expatriates and the response rate was 96 per cent in 2009 and 80 per cent in 2014.

Dr Fatheya Al Awadhi, vice president of Emirates Diabetes Association, head of internal medicine and consultant endocrinologist at the Dubai Hospital, talked about the setting up of a National Diabetes Registry in the country. “We need to assess the risk score of Dubai and the UAE and launch robust preventive programmes for those who are prediabetic. A diabetes registry will help doctors in all hospitals across the UAE, while filling in details of their patients, record if the patient have diabetes in a mandatory window that will pop up online. Our vision for 2021 is to reduce the prevalence of diabetes in the UAE from 19 per cent to 16.3 per cent.

Dr Abdul Razzaq Al Madani, head of the Emirates Diabetes Society, and Dr Mohammad Hassanein also spoke on the need to control the rapid spread of lifestyle diseases in the society. “It is our wish to have the UAE move out of the list of the top 20 countries regarding the occurrence of diabetes, and we hope to do so by increasing the levels of awareness over the next two to three years. Health authorities and civil institutions will organise awareness campaigns and additional plans include the important decision of the Ministry of Education to prohibit the sale of fast food or other foods with high levels of sugars and carbohydrates in schools,” said Dr Madani.