Abu Dhabi, September 20 2013: More than 140 diabetes experts gathered at Imperial College London Diabetes Centre to share the latest thinking and discuss challenges associated with the disease.
Organisers of ICLDC’s inaugural Advanced Diabetes Conference believe the event is set to become a firm fixture on the calendar of medical specialists in the region in years to come.
“We’re delighted with both the numbers and the level of interaction achieved,” said Karim Meeran, Professor of Endocrinology, Imperial College London Faculty of Medicine and Chairman, ICLDC Medical Board London, UK.
“Given the high prevalence of diabetes in the GCC, the conference is a most timely addition to the medical calendar.”
Conference Chairman, Her Excellency Professor Maha Taysir Barakat, Director General, Health Authority Abu Dhabi (HAAD), echoed the sentiments, remarking that the event is much needed in a region with such a high diabetes prevalence.
“This conference will help shed important attention on the disease, which is both manageable and preventable.
“The key to good health is as simple and as smart as managing a balanced diet and taking some moderate, regular exercise.”
Diabetes in the GCC was under the spotlight during the two day event in the capital.
According to the latest figures, 18.9 per cent of the UAE population has diabetes. This places the country 11th highest globally, while four of the top ten spots are occupied by gulf nations, according to the International Diabetes Federation.
The increasing healthcare burden of diabetes on the GCC region was a key focus of experts and Professor Meeran said diabetes is a major concern in the UAE, as well as most of the GCC region.
“Diabetes in the GCC is not only about sedentary lifestyle and poor diet but there is also a genetic factor.
“Features specific to the GCC include younger onset, a strong association with obesity, late presentation to the health care sector and higher rates of chronic complications.”
He emphasized that diabetes care in the region is often affected by limited access to publicly funded health care resources and a shortage of specialised health care professionals.
Cultural barriers between carers and patients, and deep-rooted health beliefs also play a part, he added.
“In the Middle East there is poor awareness about health, civil societies are less well developed, while the private sector is poorly regulated.”
The conference explored a cross-section of hot diabetes and endocrinology topics tabled, including bariatric surgery.
The pros and cons of bariatric surgery for patients with advanced-state diabetes were discussed.
Meanwhile other trending topics included thyroid disorders, renal complications, the challenges associated with eye care and diabetes as well as diabetes in children.
Professor Meeran said that as the incidence of type 2 diabetes in children and adolescents rises, it is increasingly important to differentiate newly diagnosed type 1 from type 2 diabetes.
He said features suggesting the diagnosis of type 2 diabetes include increased weight, a family history of diabetes and an age of 10 and over.
“In type 1 diabetes the pancreas is unable to produce any insulin. With type 2 diabetes a person is able to produce insulin but this is either not enough or the body can’t use it properly.”
He recommends a number of principles to guide management of diabetes in children.
This includes an effective insulin regimen, monitoring of glucose, flexibility with food and as much activity as possible.
“With children, especially those diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, they need routine and rules. They also benefit if encouraged to explore, begin to make their own decisions and hopefully develop some independence.”
He added that adult support is essential for success especially with pump treatment until the child is able to manage the diabetes independently.
“Studies in children with type 1 diabetes have demonstrated the positive effect of patient and family education.
“The delivery of intensive diabetes case management, and close telephone contact with the diabetes team are associated with reduced medical emergencies and cost to the patient.”
Professor Meeran shared that next year’s Advanced Diabetes Conference will take place on September 26-27 2014.