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Fighting diabetes on all fronts.

Summary: With technology, training and improved research, DHA is taking a multidisciplinary approach to tackling one of the biggest health issues in the emirate

Image Credit: Getty Kamakshi Gupta

Nearly one in five people between the ages of 20 and 79 in the UAE have diabetes, according to the International Diabetes Federation. Yet, healthcare specialists say the real worry is the burden of the numbers they do not know.

Globally, 40 per cent of diabetes is undiagnosed. To understand its prevalence in the emirate, Dubai Health Authority has collaborated with Dubai Statistics Centre to carry out an emirate-wide household survey.

"Unified multidisciplinary treatment for all patients is vital so that we can control and manage their sugar levels effectively." -Dr M. Hamed Farooqi, Director of Dubai Diabetes Centre, DHA Share on facebook Tweet this

"Understanding the exact prevalence of undiagnosed cases is important for us to chalk out preventative and curative policies to combat the rise in the number of people developing diabetes," says Dr Fatheya Al Awadi, Head of Endocrinology at Dubai Hospital, Chairperson of DHA Diabetes Committee, and General Secretary of Emirates Diabetes Society. "We have also been working on other extensive data related to diabetes including information on pregnancy and diabetes.

"By the end of this year, all DHA hospitals will have electronic patient files and we will be able to know the exact number of diabetics across DHA health facilities as well as their co-morbidities and overall profile."

Besides focusing on data, DHA also chalked out a comprehensive strategy in 2015. "We have a multifaced strategy to deal with diabetes and have carried out a series of initiatives over the past two years across DHA to better the condition of those living with the disease and to educate the community about prevention and treatment methods," she says.

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display("ad_BH_News_In_Article"); }); Salama system across DHA hospitals

DHA recently introduced Salama, the electronic medical record system, which allows for uniform management of diabetes across its health facilities so that every diabetic who visits a DHA entity receives the same level of care. "Unified multidisciplinary treatment for all patients is vital so that we can control and manage their sugar levels effectively, ensuring that not only their diabetes is in control but also the complications that come along with the disease," says Dr M. Hamed Farooqi, Director of Dubai Diabetes Centre at DHA. "We have achieved 1 per cent reduction in the three-month average blood sugar levels of all patients, many of whom suffer from morbid obesity."

Dr Farooqi says that according to a UK prospective diabetes study, a 1 per cent reduction in the average three-month blood sugar levels means a 21 per cent decrease in the risk of developing any diabetes-related complications and a 14 per cent reduction in the risk of having a heart attack. It also means a 12 per cent reduction in the risk of having a stroke and 37 per cent reduction in the risk of developing small vessel disease that includes the blood vessels in the eyes, kidney and feet.

Dr Mohammed Hassanein, Senior Consultant Endocrinologist at Dubai Hospital and Member of DHA Diabetes Committee, says that in 2015 DHA introduced joint clinics for diabetics with complications to ensure they receive the highest level of multidisciplinary care in one location. The joint clinics, the first-of-its-kind initiative in Dubai, provided an opportunity for diabetics to consult multiple healthcare experts at the same time rather than taking several appointments, which was time-consuming and inconvenient.

"For pregnant women who are diabetic, pre-diabetic or have gestational diabetes, we have a joint clinic so that they can visit their obstetrician and their endocrinologist at the same time," he says.

The clinic is available on a weekly basis at Dubai Hospital and on a monthly basis at Latifa Hospital.

DHA also introduced two new joint clinics at Dubai Hospital. The first is a joint clinic with nephrologists and endocrinologists for diabetics with kidney problems. This clinic will take place on a monthly basis.

The second is a bimonthly clinic with thyroid surgeons and endocrinologists.

"In the thyroid joint clinic, patients will undergo an ultrasound and biopsy on the same day and within two weeks they will receive a treatment plan that is based on input from multidisciplinary medical experts," adds Dr Hassanein.

The feedback about the joint clinics from patients has been very positive.

Diabetic training for DHA doctors and nurses

Recently 25 DHA nurses and doctors working in primary and secondary care completed their master's degree in diabetes management with Cardiff University in the UK. DHA has collaborated with the university to provide diplomas on diabetes and master's degrees to DHA medical staff.

Diabetes Transition Care Programme for Young Adults

Dr Al Awadi says paediatric patients with diabetes are moved to the adult clinic when they are 13 years of age.

To ease this transition, DHA will soon introduce a joint clinic with paediatric endocrinologists and adult endocrinologists so that young adults are comfortable in their new healthcare environment.

Hayati Diabetes app

In addition to these initiatives, DHA launched a diabetes app to educate diabetics on better management of their condition. "DHA is keen to provide the highest level of care to diabetic patients and we will continue to roll out such initiatives that offer convenience and ensure better patient care," says Dr Al Awadi.

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Date:Nov 13, 2017
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