An awareness campaign is working to create better understanding about the risks of obesity, chronic diseases and their association with COVID-19 Image Credit: File picture

Abu Dhabi: An awareness campaign is working to create better understanding about the dangers of obesity, chronic diseases and their association with COVID-19 so that residents comply with precautionary measures and lifestyle recommondations.

Launched recently by the Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP), the campaign supports national efforts to protect public health and safety. Its introduction coincides with international findings which have shown that people suffering from obesity, chronic respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and cancer are more susceptible to COVID-19 and its complications. Therefore, the uptake of COVID-19 vaccines by these groups will greatly protect them from infection, or alleviate symptoms in any affected patients.

“Since the early days of the pandemic, the ministry has paid special attention to obese patients and those with chronic diseases and has accordingly assigned them special healthcare. They have been given priority in lab and home testing to limit their contact with others in health centres and are among the priority groups in receiving the COVID-19 jabs,” said Dr Hussein Al Rand, assistant undersecretary of health centres and clinics at the MoHAP.

“The severity of COVID-19 increases if the infected person is over 60 years. People with one or more of these chronic conditions such as asthma and lung disease, cardiovascular problems, uncontrolled diabetes, severe obesity, a weakened immune system due to diseases such as HIV or who are undergoing cancer treatment must also be more careful to protect themselves against the virus,” Al Rand added.

Dr Fadila Mohammed Sharif, director of health education and promotion at the MoHAP, said the campaign calls on people with chronic diseases and obesity to get vaccinated in order to protect themselves and their loved ones. In addition, they must continue to adhere to their medication regimens while maintaining at least two metres’ physical distance from people who are suffering from cold and flu-like symptoms. Dr Sharif also recommended that people int these at-risk groups regularly monitor blood sugar and blood pressure, wear facemasks and gloves when leaving the home, and frequently wash their hands.

According to Dr Sharif, being obese triples the risk of hospitalisation in case of COVID-19 infection because obesity is associated with weakened immunity and reduce lung capacity, which makes it difficult to breathe. These concerns have been confirmed by global studies, so people who are overweight must be especially careful during the pandemic, she said.