Johnson & Johnson Diabetes Care Companies' vision is to create a world without limits for people with diabetes
Tamer Abbas, General Manager - Middle East, Africa, and Turkey, Johnson & Johnson, Diabetes Care
Tamer Abbas, General Manager-Middle East, Africa, and Turkey at Johnson & Johnson Diabetes Care Companies, says innovation is crucial in tackling the disease.
As obesity reaches epidemic proportions worldwide, so does the prevalence of chronic diseases such as diabetes. In the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, diabetes has become an even greater health concern for governments, healthcare professionals (HCPs) and pharmaceutical companies, according to Tamer Abbas, General Manager, - Middle East, Africa and Turkey at Johnson & Johnson Diabetes Care Companies.
Indeed, 2013 data from the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) projected that the number of people affected with diabetes in the MENA region stands at about 34.6 million - a figure that is set to nearly double to 67.9 million by 2035.*
What is more alarming is the fact that three of the world's top 10 countries with the highest prevalence (percentage) of diabetes are in the Middle East and North Africa Region. The region has the highest comparative prevalence of diabetes (10.9 per cent). Rapid economic development coupled with ageing populations has resulted in a dramatic increase in the prevalence of type 2 diabetes.*
As a result, tackling the regional issue of diabetes involves a concerted effort among various stakeholders, said Abbas.
"MENA is a region that has a young and rapidly expanding population, nearly one in five people living in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is between the ages of 15 and 24. In addition, it has a fast-growing economy that, unfortunately, impacts the people's lifestyle habits," he said.
Collaboration is key
Employees of the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies work with partners in healthcare to touch the lives of over a billion people every day, throughout the world.Lifescan and Animas are part of the Johnson & Johnson Diabetes Care Companies that keeps its fingers on the pulse of diabetes care in the region by operating in 24 countries across Middle East and Africa.
"At Johnson & Johnson Diabetes Care Companies, our efforts are on patient-centric diabetes care. We create an integrated diabetes lifecycle management strategy spanning prevention, diagnosis and management," he added.
"And this can only be done by building a strong and long-term partnership with governmental authorities, HCPs, pharmacist and nurses. We call this the Triangle of Care, where we always place patients at the centre of everything we do.
"No one can address the issue of diabetes alone," said Abbas. "Collaboration is the only solution to improving diabetes health outcomes. Currently, one of the biggest challenges faced by everyone is prevention and this can be solved by educating people on how certain lifestyle changes - eating and exercise habits, for example - can delay the onset of Type 2 diabetes."
Taking an innovative approach to raising awareness is also a major focus for the company. In 2015, Johnson & Johnson Diabetes Care Companies launched an initiative called Step Up for Life: Sing for World Diabetes Day, a campaign that invited participants from across the MENA region to sing a song as a pledge to help loved ones fight diabetes.
The programme received over 2,000 video song pledges, which were collated into a music video and attracted over two million views on YouTube.
A life without limits
Education has played a major role in helping patients and their caregivers, once they have been diagnosed with diabetes, to effectively manage their disease and help them live a life without limits.
"This is our vision as a company, to improve patients' quality of life so they don't feel constrained by their condition. We want them to know that although diabetes is a lifelong medical condition, it is definitely not a life sentence, and with proper care, it is very much possible for them to live a happy, active and productive life," Abbas said.
The Egyptian general manager, who has been with Johnson & Johnson for more than three years, in Middle East, added that having innovative solutions to encourage patients to regularly check their blood sugar level is a crucial component to managing diabetes care.
LifeScan is committed to improving the quality of life for people with diabetes. That is why we offer a range of blood glucose monitoring products and Customer care services to meet these different needs more closely. In the Middle East and Africa, thousands of people with diabetes depend on OneTouch® products for simple testing and accurate results. OneTouch® products are very easy to use and reliable and accurate, making life easier when it comes to blood glucose monitoring.
"Our OneTouch® products are user-friendly and visually attractive devices for patients with diabetes. They provide accurate measurements of blood sugar levels. The latest OneTouch® devices that have recently been launched in the MENA region, including OneTouch Verio® and OneTouch Select Plus, The OneTouch Verio® meter is the first meter with automatic colour-coding. "
In addition, Over 90% of patients said "It's easy to use and makes results simple to understand
Nearly 100 per cent of patients agreed that the OneTouch Verio® meter made it clear when you need to take action.
Innovation also addresses barriers for testing
Juvenile diabetes is also a prime concern for Johnson & Johnson Diabetes Care Companies, said Abbas, which is why a specific programme has been developed to address the fear of needles among young patients.
"We look at the whole ecosystem surrounding the patients and the family is one of them. So it is very important to raise awareness among them and help them understand that while it is important to regularly check their children's blood sugar levels, there are more comfortable and less painful ways of doing this," he added.
Abbas further explained that Johnson & Johnson's Diabetes Solutions Companies have developed the OneTouch Delica® Lancing System, which is designed for comfortable testing.
"Again, it is about looking at innovative ways of encouraging patients to manage their condition by making the procedure as comfortable as possible," he said.
Johnson & Johnson Diabetes Institute (JJDI)
Johnson & Johnson Diabetes Care Companies take a long-term view of its role in diabetes care in the Middle East and Africa, said Abbas. "One of the key areas of concern is preparing a plan on how we can best support various stakeholders and address the challenges."
Part of this long-term vision is the creation of a learning institute called Johnson & Johnson Diabetes Institute, which provides advanced training in diabetes care for healthcare professionals. It is a unique training programme designed to improve care management for people living with diabetes by offering training through in-person courses, as well as through digital offerings or webinars.
The Johnson & Johnson Diabetes Institute is being offered across the MENA region. The institute has partnered with different governmental entities in the MENA region and this year, about 500 healthcare professionals will be trained in different modules by some of the leading medical experts in the region, including consultant endocrinologists and diabetes educators.
"Through this initiative, we aim to provide the comprehensive educational tools needed to improve care for patients with diabetes," said Abbas.