Needy diabetics to get free treatment


Dubai - The number of people living with diabetes in the UAE is expected to double, hitting over two million by year 2040


Angel Tesorero

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Published: Thu 18 Jan 2018, 8:35 PM

Last updated: Thu 9 Feb 2023, 2:40 PM

At least 50 needy expat patients with Type 1 diabetes will get free insulin treatment for one year after the Dubai-based volunteer support society, Friends for Diabetes (FFD), signed a memorandum of understanding on Thursday with Danish pharmaceutical firm Novo Nordisk "to improve access to health care for people living with diabetes."

Under the MoU, the two organisations "will work closely towards reducing cases of diabetes in the country as well as ensuring that those affected by the lifestyle disease will receive much needed assistance to effectively manage their condition."

Recipients who will be identified in collaboration with the Emirates Red Crescent are expat children between one to 18 years old. FFD said: "The partnership comes at an opportune time amid the prevalence of diabetes in the country at a rate faster than the average in the region and rest of the world."

According to the International Diabetes Foundation, the number of people living with diabetes in the UAE is expected to double, hitting over two million by year 2040.

FFD founder Dr Elham Al Amiri said the joint initiative "will greatly raise awareness levels in the region and serve as a motivation towards proper disease management.

"We welcome this noble gesture by Novo Nordisk to partner with FFD in the provision of care and better treatment of diabetes in the region. This partnership will go a long way in complementing our ongoing programs aimed at increasing awareness about diabetes, training, education and sourcing funds to support patients in need of treatment," she added.

Al Amiri told Khaleej Times that many expat families cannot afford insulin, or even glucose test strips and glucometers to measure their blood sugar. Moreover, for a Type 1 diabetes patient, the average annual medical expenditure could reach Dh10,000, which makes a big hole in the family budget.

Al Amiri said prevention is always better than cure but a lot has to be done to educate UAE residents about the dangers of diabetes. She said, since 2009, they have conducted free glucose tests to about 200,000 residents and 10 per cent of them have been diagnosed with diabetes.

Diabetes is also striking younger patients now. "Before, Type 2 diabetes was prevalent among adults 40 years and over, but now we see children as young as 10 being diagnosed with the disease," Al Amiri told Khaleej Times. "There has to be a lifestyle change among the general population," she underlined.

For his part, Dr Ayman Hassan, general manager at Novo Nordisk UAE said: "Diabetes is a huge burden on society and no single entity can combat it alone. It will require collaboration to address this serious issue efficiently."

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