HRH the Duchess of Cornwall, the wife of the heir to the British throne, HRH Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, today visited the new, state-of-the-art Zayed Sports City branch of the Imperial College London Diabetes Centre in the UAE capital.
The Prince and the Duchess arrived in Abu Dhabi yesterday at the beginning of a three-day visit to the United Arab Emirates.
The Duchess's visit comes a week before World Diabetes Day, on 14th November, and she was received by Professor Maha Taysir Barakat, the Director General of the Health Authority – Abu Dhabi, HAAD, Suhail Al Ansari, the Chairman of the Imperial College London Diabetes Centre and Executive Director and Executive Director of Mubadala Healthcare, and Ihsan Al Marzouqi, Associate Director, Mubadala Healthcare.
The centre is a joint venture between Imperial College London, one of Britain's leading universities, and Mubadala Healthcare, a branch of Abu Dhabi's Mubadala Development Company.
During a tour of the new facility, the Duchess met a number of doctors, nurses and patients and was briefed on how the centre, which this year celebrates its tenth anniversary, has had a positive impact on the lives of over 1 million people through treatment and its public health campaigns. She was also briefed on the international research efforts being led by doctors and scientists at the centre.
The Zayed Sports City branch offers treatment options for those suffering from diabetes, including pre- and post-bariatric care and ante-natal services.
At the end of her visit, the Duchess formerly unveiled a plaque formally inaugurating the Zayed Sports City branch.
It was the second visit by the Duchess to an Imperial College London Diabetes Centre facility. She had previously visited the main centre, together with her husband, HRH the Prince of Wales, during 2007.
The Duchess of Cornwall is the President of JRDF, a charity focussed on tackling Type 1 diabetes, and has actively supported events raising awareness of the disease. Last month, both she and British Prime Minister, Theresa May, attended a JRDF event in London to meet long-standing supporters, volunteers and scientists at the charity.
With nearly 20 percent of the UAE's population believed to be suffering from forms of diabetes and with the disease also prevalent elsewhere in the Gulf region, the centre's work is focused on tackling one of the major regional challenges to the health of citizens and of other residents. It seeks to provide a holistic, one-stop approach to the treatment, management, prevention, research and awareness of diabetes for the whole community.
The Imperial College London – Mubadala partnership was established in 2004, with the aim of promoting co-operation in education, healthcare, research and development, and industrial development. One of its first objectives was to bring clinical expertise to the region, thereby reducing the need for people to travel abroad for treatment.
Construction of the main centre, adjacent to Abu Dhabi's Zayed Military Hospital, began in 2005, with the centre being opened in August 2006. In that year, it had a staff of 8 doctors, with 779 patients being treated. In 2015, the number of doctors at the centre's Abu Dhabi base and in an associated facility in the inland oasis-city of Al Ain, opened in 2011, had risen to 60, with a total of 81,503 patients being treated.
Besides treatment, the centre has also established itself as a major research institution. In 2009, it was the first healthcare institution in the world to receive the prestigious Joint Commission International JCI, accreditation for Ambulatory Care and the JCI Certification for Diabetes Management. The Al Ain facility earned the same accreditations in 2012. The centre's Research Tissue Bank, now fully-operational, is the first of its kind in Abu Dhabi.
The Imperial College London Diabetes Centre also plays a leading role in public health awareness campaigns in the wider community, including an annual walk on World Diabetes Day every November. Last year's event attracted over 21,000 participants.