A previous edition of WeWalk in Dubai Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Dubai Science Park (DSP) will host the third edition of ‘WeWalk’, an annual charitable walkathon, on Saturday in collaboration with UAE Rare Disease Society.

Open to residents of all ages and abilities, the event will encourage a broader understanding of the challenges and triumphs faced by individuals suffering from rare diseases. Participants will cover a distance of 3km and can choose to walk, sprint or jog the course with friends and family. There will also be wheelchair courses for all distances. Each participant receives a goody bag with a T-shirt, cap and wristband as well as refreshments on the day.

According to the Centre of Arab Genomic Studies, the Middle East has the world’s highest prevalence of rare disease, with an estimated 2.8 million patients suffering from a rare disease in the region, with most cases being attributed to consanguineous marriages and advanced maternal and paternal age.

Events like WeWalk address “the silence and stigma around rare disease and enhance the infrastructure for diagnosis and treatment of rare diseases, while encouraging collaboration between all stakeholders and the community at large”, organisers said.

Proceeds from registration will go towards developing support and awareness programmes to help shorten the diagnosis journey of patients, create a database of rare diseases and enhance access to specialists, diagnostics and treatments. In partnership with Dubai Health Authority’s Blood Donation Centre (DBDC), attendees can also donate blood during this year’s event.

Education and awareness

Commenting on the upcoming WeWalk edition, Marwan Abdul Aziz, DSP’s Managing Director, said: “In our capacity as the region’s first science-focused business district, we are proud to be leading the charge on supporting innovation in the sciences and to contributing to the development of an inclusive society. Covering a host of sectors, from health and wellness to pharma and life sciences sectors, Dubai Science Park embodies the ethos of collaboration, partnering with the region’s leading healthcare champions to deliver sustainable solutions for our communities. We are pleased to be joining forces with UAE Rare Disease Society to support this worthy cause and look forward to playing a key role in enhancing education and awareness of the conditions.”

Part of the proceeds of the walkathon will be sent to UAE Rare Disease Society, through their charity partner Beit Al Khair Society to create awareness and education programmes for different individuals linked to the cause. Registrations and donations for WeWalk are now open and accessible via the WeWalk website.

Participating partners

Mohamed Ezz Eldin, President and Head of Gulf Cluster, Novartis Pharmaceuticals, said: “At Novartis, addressing unmet medical need is our cornerstone strategy. We are committed to research and development for rare disease and be a pioneer in cell and gene therapy. Our purpose to reimagine medicine to improve and extend people’s lives hinges on collaborations with the UAE Rare disease society to raise awareness, support patient societies, and become a trusted partner”.

Jean-Paul Scheuer, MCO Lead and General Manager Specialty Care for Sanofi Greater Gulf, said: “We are very proud to stand alongside the rare disease community. Rare disease patients encounter lifelong challenges, and Sanofi is committed to providing them the care and support they need – both through pushing the frontiers of science to improve diagnosis and treatment outcomes, and through fostering a support community to fight the social stigma that patients and their families experience.”