UAE aims to reduce prevalence of diabetes

UAE aims to reduce prevalence of diabetes

Task force comprising health authorities discusses ways to cut back occurrence from 19 per cent to 16.3 per cent by 2021.

By Asma Ali Zain/deputy Chief Reporter

Published: Mon 9 Feb 2015, 12:28 AM

Last updated: Thu 25 Jun 2015, 10:41 PM

Dubai — The UAE has set a target to reduce the prevalence of diabetes from the current 19 per cent to 16.3 per cent by 2021, said a senior health official while outlining the National Agenda for World Class Healthcare in the UAE’s Vision for 2021.

To set up initiatives such as intensive screening, focus on research and a National Diabetes registry, a task force comprising health authorities met this week to discuss ways to achieve this reduction.

“We met to get oriented with the vision and to brainstorm and come up with important initiatives so that we can meet this target,” said Dr Abdul Rahman Al Rand, Assistant Undersecretary for Healthcentres and Clinics at the health ministry.

“We are discussing details and action plans needed to reduce the prevalence of this disease with more focused activities that involve the community,” said Dr Rand, who is also heading the task force. The UAE is currently ranked number 16 in the world for people living with diabetes, dropping six points from where it stood in 2012.

“This new ranking is due to the policies implemented by health authorities and awareness created among people,” he said.

Fact box

> 804,000 people over 20 years living with diabetes in UAE

> 500,000 people are pre-diabetic

> 40 per cent of UAE’s overall healthcare expenditure is spent on treating diabetes

> $8.52 billion cost for country by 2020 if current trends continue

It is estimated that there are almost 804,000 people over the age of 20 years with diabetes in the UAE while another 500,000 people are at the stage of pre-diabetes. These startling statistics are driving the enormous associated costs borne by the government, civil society, and private sectors.

According to estimates, direct treatment of diabetes constitutes approximately 40 per cent of the UAE’s overall healthcare expenditures. In 2011, the total cost of diabetes to the emirates was nearly $6.6 billion.

As diabetes is predicted to escalate in the region, associated costs will skyrocket. By 2020, if current trends continue, diabetes may cost the country $8.52 billion.

These statistics also indicate that the region has high risk factors for diabetes, mostly related to rising obesity rates and physical inactivity. This sedentary lifestyle and the globally increasing unhealthy diet have contributed to the rise in obesity and have fuelled diabetes prevalence in the region, according to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF).

A sedentary lifestyle and bad eating habits are cited as the main causes of the increasing prevalence of type 2 diabetes in the country.  Risks of cardiovascular disease and stroke are up to six times higher in people with diabetes. Traditionally, type 2 diabetes is referred to as adult-onset diabetes. However, in recent years diabetes has reached epidemic levels worldwide, with children as young as seven year developing the disease.

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