Spotlight on World Diabetes Day November 14: ICLDC warns of negative impact of diabetes on the UAE if measures not taken

November 15, 2007 (PRLEAP.COM) Health News
Abu Dhabi - Monday, November 15, 2007 — In the wake of newly-released data from the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) indicating an alarming increase in the number of people with diabetes in the UAE, Dr Maha Taysir Barakat, Endocrinologist and Medical & Research Director at Abu Dhabi’s Imperial College London Diabetes Centre (ICLDC) warns of the impact on the nation from diabetes and its complications.

She was speaking at a special ‘Unite for Diabetes’ media briefing to mark World Diabetes Day (14 November 2007). Professor Rury Holman on behalf of the United Nations, and HAAD’s Dr Oliver Harrison were also present, along with ICLDC’s public health awareness campaign partner, Emirates Foundation represented by Khuloud Al Nuwais. The Ministry of Health also gave support.

The IDF estimates that the equivalent of an additional 23 million years of life are lost each year to the disability and a much-reduced quality of life is caused by diabetes complications.

Dr Maha said that, in the UAE, specific action must be taken to curb the mushrooming incidence of type 2 diabetes, particularly in young adults and children.

“There has been a staggering increase of type 2 diabetes in younger people in the UAE. Children as young as ten are being diagnosed with the disease, many due to obesity coupled with physical inactivity and unhealthy diet.

“We must make moves now to counteract this trend. If we do not, there will be an additional burden on our society, governments and the healthcare system, specifically,” Dr Maha warned.

She added that the diabetes burden is not only related to health care costs, but also to indirect costs caused by loss of productivity from disability and premature mortality.

Dr Maha said that traditionally type 2 diabetes was considered a disease of middle-aged and older adults but that recent data shows that type 2 diabetes and the related metabolic syndrome are occurring at alarming rates in younger people.

If untreated, diabetes can lead to heart disease, blindness, kidney disease, stroke, nerve damage and circulation problems that can result in limb amputations.

“When diabetes strikes an older adult, it is serious, but it still may take 10-20 years before the individual will develop the major long-term complications like heart disease, stroke and blindness.

“But now that more people in their 30s, 20s and even teens are getting the disease, the real danger is that we will see these complications affect young people also,” Dr Maha warned.

The Emirates Foundation’s Khuloud Al Nuwais, too stressed the importance on targeting diabetes head on : “This is a global phenomena and the ability of healthcare systems throughout the world, and here in the UAE, will be stretched if we are not successful in curbing this rising tide of disease. Clearly we need to find ways to reverse the alarming trend and this will include measures of lifestyle modification and improved diabetes awareness and screening facilities.

Emirates Foundation has played a crucial role in partnering with ICLDC for the nation-wide, public health awareness campaign, ‘DIABETES.KNOWLEDGE.ACTION.’