Nationwide Plan to Make Children Aware of Diabetes

DUBAI – Health officials have begun implementing a three-year countrywide plan in schools with the aim of equipping children with practical knowledge on how to live with diabetes,


Asma Ali Zain

Published: Sun 20 Dec 2009, 9:24 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 9:29 AM

The plan, which includes involvement of parents along with healthcare providers, will highlight the risks of Type II diabetes to children and prepare them to manage the disease on their own effectively.

Dr Mahmoud Fikri, CEO for Health Policies Affairs and Chairman of National Diabetes Board, Ministry of Health, described the campaign as essential to the well-being of future generations.

“We need to be able to highlight the dangers of diabetes and raise awareness of the disease across the entire country. This is a unique operation and by 2012, we will have visited every single school in the country in a bid to fight the causes of this disease.

That is a remarkable achievement and one that we believe will save thousands of lives,” he said.

The programme, which is part of the National Diabetic Strategy, gives practical advice on ways to avoid the disease through changes in diet, exercise and lifestyle.

It also aims at showing students and parents that while diabetes is a real threat, the risk of being affected by the disease can be dramatically reduced by following a few simple guidelines.

Children in 10 schools that are taking part currently will be given pedometers that will measure their daily exercise routine.

“School nurses will monitor the usage of this equipment and children who do not meet the set target will be encouraged to get involved in more of physical activity and healthy eating,” said Dr Wedad Al Maidoor, member of the National Committee to Combat Diabetes. Besides, 800 children in 8-10 age group have been given questionnaires to assess the dietary and exercising trends in the children.

Under the programme, children will be also screened to enable assessment of the percentage of diabetic children and those at risk, and to tailor action plans accordingly to assist them live a healthier life.

A pilot project that teaches diabetic children to self inject insulin is already being implemented in two schools.

“We want children with the disease to learn how to effectively manage it themselves especially in settings such as schools where someone may not be able to help them immediately,” Dr Salah Al Badawi, Public Health Consultant and Director of the National Project for Control of Diabetes, said.

“Teaching the child to take care of the disease early is important so that it does not become a compounded health problem later in life,” he added.

Sponsored by Sanofi-Aventis and in partnership with the Ministries of Health and Education, a total of 120 nurses and teachers representing 10 schools have been trained to educate and demonstrate management, lifestyle, and required nutrition to prevent the disease.

“These activities are aimed at raising awareness of Type II diabetes within our educational system, and in turn protect the generations to come. Supplying our youth with adequate information and advice can make a real difference in our aim to change the current unhealthy lifestyle they are leading,” said Dr Ossama Alalla, Physical Activity Specialist, School Activity Department, Ministry of Education.

The current direct spending of the health ministry on managing the disease is between Dh100-200 million a year. In 2005, the incidence of diabetes reached 19.6 per cent of the population and is expected to rise to more than 28 per cent by 2025.

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