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02 December 2023

MoHAP launches first nationwide diabetes screening campaign


The Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP) has launched the first-of-its-kind National Prediabetes and Diabetes Screening campaign.

Using screening centres across the UAE, the campaign aligns with achieving the National Indicator of reducing the prevalence of diabetes in the country. MoHAP works with its strategic partners to provide immediate post-screening access to physician consultations, lifestyle coaching, and treatment options to employees in the public and private sectors.

The ministry unveiled the initiative during a press conference following a partnership agreement signed with Merck Gulf, the leading science and technology company. Dr. Hussain Abdul Rahman Al Rand, Assistant Under-Secretary for the Public Health Sector, Dr. Omniyat Al Hajri, Executive Director of the Community Health Sector at Abu Dhabi Public Health Centre, and Dr. Yousef Al Tair, Director of Ibrahim Bin Hamed Obaidallah Hospital in Ras Al Khaimah, and Chairman of the Diabetes Committee at the Emirates Health Services, attended the event.

Also present were Dr. Hend Al Awadhi, Head of the Health Promotion and Education section of the Public Health Department at DHA, Dr. Kulaithem AL Mazrouei, Medical Director at the Primary Health Care Sector, Dubai Academic Health Corporation, and Ahmed Abo El Fadl, General Manager of Merck Gulf, in addition to other senior officials from both sides.

The yearlong MoHAP and Merck Gulf initiative, supported by the UAE health authorities, BinSina chain of Pharmacies, Al Manzil Healthcare, and AlTadawi medical group, will engage the population by targeting public and private sector workplaces. Those working there will be offered free screening, with digital risk assessment questionnaires followed by HbA1c tests for those at risk of prediabetes and diabetes.

This streamlined approach, coupled with meticulous data tracking and follow-up consultations at three months and six months, aims to empower individuals with both awareness and support through a dedicated Hotline (800-DIABEAT), which provides follow-up and answers the queries of those diagnosed with pre-diabetes or diabetes during the campaign to reverse prediabetes and improve the control of diabetes in those being screened.

Effective Partnership

Dr Hussain Abdul Rahman Al Rand stated that the ministry pays utmost attention to strengthening strategic partnerships with leading international medical companies specialising in non-communicable diseases like diabetes. This is not only to promote healthy lifestyles among community members and underscore the importance of early disease detection but also to foster a supportive environment for optimal diabetes management within the broader framework of combating non-communicable diseases.

He stated that the agreement aligns with the ministry's overarching objectives of advancing public health within the community and raising awareness about preventive measures. It also reflects MoHAP's commitment to managing preventive and community health programmes to enhance the overall quality of life nationwide.

Dr. Al Hajeri said, "The participation of the Abu Dhabi Public Health Centre in the National Early Detection Campaign for Diabetes aligns with its mission to prevent infection and improve disease management to reduce potential complications. It emphasises the importance of raising awareness in prevention, early detection, and treatment, as well as understanding the risk factors associated with the disease to ensure that individuals, families, and the community have reliable information that enables them to take appropriate actions and adopt healthy lifestyles."

Al Hajeri added, “Regular screenings and access to healthcare services are paramount not only for detecting diabetes but also for identifying pre-diabetes stages and providing key interventions. These interventions include improving lifestyle habits, adhering to a healthy diet, engaging in physical activity, and, if necessary, using medications to prevent diabetes. To achieve this goal, the Abu Dhabi Public Health Centre has launched the Comprehensive Periodic Screening Programme (IFHAS), which includes a range of tests to identify risk factors for various diseases, including diabetes, to reduce the burden of the disease and improve overall public health outcomes."

Meanwhile, Dr. Al Tair said, “Driven by the directives of our wise leadership and the strategy of the Emirates Health Services and in line with our commitment to providing top-notch health services, we have prioritised fighting diabetes and have therefore instructed the relevant departments to intensify efforts in detecting and controlling this disease, and to provide unparalleled services to this segment of patients.”

Dr. Al Tair added, “Diabetes is a prevalent disease influenced by various factors, and today’s campaign represents one of the initiatives undertaken by the Committee for early detection of the disease and immediately refer patients to specialised diabetes centres to provide timely treatment and mitigate its associated complications.”

He pointed out that the EHS will spare no effort to enhance the quality of life. To this end, concerted efforts are being made to ensure the availability of necessary medications, especially for patients requiring insulin pumps and other crucial treatments for managing diabetes.

El Fadl highlighted that the programme's launch marks a significant step forward in bolstering collaboration with MoHAP to improve the support extended to diabetes patients. El Fadl stated that the agreement will ensure better and immediate access to expert medical consultations, empowering individuals to manage their health with assurance. It further seeks to enhance community health by equipping individuals with the means to prevent diabetes and manage it effectively.

Future Partnership Initiatives with Merck

Additionally, the Ministry of Health and Prevention, in partnership with Merck Gulf, is poised to leverage the transformative capabilities of artificial intelligence (AI) in pursuing diabetes prevention and early detection. Harnessing AI aims to enhance the prediction of those at risk of developing prediabetes, allowing for earlier intervention and improved patient outcomes. This initiative is a crucial component to curb the prevalence of diabetes and will contribute to a healthier future.

Advancing Research

One of the distinguishing features of the campaign is its commitment to nationwide data collection. Data collected from participants in this campaign will be analysed to test the effectiveness of early detection and immediate intervention through lifestyle modification in reducing the risk factors and, consequently, the incidence of diabetes in the country in alignment with the UAE Centennial 2071.

Global Impact

The valuable data generated by the National Screening Programme will be documented in a medical research paper in what is set to become a groundbreaking publication on the impact of tracked pre-diabetes screening programmes. These findings are anticipated to have a global impact, influencing global screening programme guidelines and enhancing post-diagnosis guidance, treatment, and care.

MoHAP encourages entities and residents in the UAE to join the diabetes screening programme.