The RAK Hospital marathon diabetes campaign targeting to screen at least 2,000 people as part of its World Diabetes Day programmes started off with overwhelming public response. The three-day campaign is the biggest such event in the Northern Emirates.
The campaign that began on Thursday would screen children as well as adults to detect both type 1 and type 2diabetes. The screenings are held at the RAK Hospital, RAK Mall and Al Hamra Mall so that the maximum number of people can be covered.
RAK Hospital periodically holds health campaigns as part of its community health initiatives and awareness programmes, but the current campaign against diabetes is the biggest yet.
Diabetes is the fastest growing disease in the world and the problem is particularly serious in the UAE. The Diabetes 2012 Atlas Update ranks the UAE as the 11th most affected country globally and fifth regionally as nearly 20 per cent of the population suffers from the killer disease. Recent statistics show that one out of four people aged 20 to 79 in the UAE lives with this disease, while a similar ratio of the population is at risk of developing it.
The RAK Hospital campaign is aimed at improving awareness, prevention, early detection and better management of the chronic condition so that the affected people are able to lead a more healthy life.
The number of children with type 1 diabetes in the UAE has doubled since 2000, and the condition has been diagnosed in babies as young as 16 months. Doctors say the increase has been particularly noticeable in the past five to eight years. Hence the special focus on screening children in the campaign.
“Deaths related to diabetes are a serious problem and relate to genetic disposition, obesity and sedentary lifestyle, with a high genetic susceptibility to insulin resistance,” says Dr. Elhadi Eltayeb Abbas, Head of Department of Internal Medicine at RAK Hospital. Complications arising out of diabetic conditions include diseases affecting the retina, which can lead to blindness, kidney problems, cardiac problems, vascular diseases and neurological illness.
According to Dr Elhadi, one out of every three people with diabetes is unaware they have this chronic condition. In addition, many type 2 diabetes patients are not diagnosed or not in control of their blood glucose, leaving them at an increased risk of diabetes-related complications, she points out. That is why it is important to get screened periodically.
His advice is that people aged 45 or older should consider getting tested for pre-diabetes or diabetes. People younger than 45 should also consider testing if they are overweight or obese “If you have diabetes, you’re 15 times more likely to have a limb amputated due to Gangrene, a condition in which a loss of blood supply causes tissue to die. It can affect any part of the body but typically starts in the toes, feet, fingers and hands”, Dr Elhadi cautions.
“Even if you are not an exercise buff, you can keep fit by doing small things at home, like sweeping and vacuuming the floor, climbing the stairs, washing the car, and walking to the neighbourhood store,” he points out.