Dubai facing diabetes epidemic


Fraser Clarke

A recently published Dubai Health Authority survey has revealed that almost one in every two adults with diabetes in the Emirate are unaware that they have the condition.

Dubai’s Diabetes Survey 2017 involved 5000 residents over the age of 18 from across the Emirate, with the final results illustrating a lack of change in the condition’s prevalence since 2012.

That means that 15.2% of the population are still known to have the condition, with a further 11.3% still yet to be diagnosed. Both of these figures are considerably higher than in the United Kingdom, where estimates suggest that just 6% of the population are diabetic.

Perhaps the most concerning of the survey’s findings however were the number of people deemed to be at a high risk of developing diabetes - which sat at 16% of participants, leaving the total incidence rate at a projected 19.3%.

This figure highlights the real need for drastic change in the Emirate, if it is to reach its 2021 goal of reducing the overall rate to 16.4%.

Speaking at the publication of the figures, Dr Fatheya Al Awadi, head of endocrinology at Dubai Hospital, and chair of the DHA’s Diabetes Committee said: “Whilst it is imperative to provide a proper medical programme and lifestyle change to those already diagnosed with diabetes, it is even more important to stem the onset of diabetes in those who are borderline and high risk.

“Those with a glycated haemoglobin levels of between 5.7 to 6.4 are pre-diabetic, and it is these people we must work on with a very structured programme that will involve educating and empowering them about diet, nutrition, physical exercise, and the importance of cutting out direct sugars, whilst we should also appoint a wellness coach for them to regularly monitor their progress.”

Dr Al Awadi was also positive about the potential impact that the DHA’s new Salama electronic record system could have in the battle against the condition. She continued: “Very soon we will be able to create a disease registry based on these authentic figures which can be validated in real time. The registry will give us exact statistics of how many diabetics we have, and how many people are high risk and pre-diabetic. This will help us combat this challenge better.”

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