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With technology, training and improved research, DHA is taking a multidisciplinary approach to tackling one of the biggest health issues in the emirate
By Kamakshi Gupta
Nearly one in five people in the Emirate have diabetes according to the International Diabetes Federation. Yet, according to healthcare specialists, the real worry is the burden of the numbers they do not know. Globally, 40 per cent of diabetes is undiagnosed and to understand its prevalence in Dubai, the DHA has collaborated with the Dubai Statistics Centre to carry out an emirate-wide household survey.
Dr Fatheya Al Awadi, Head of Endocrinology Department at Dubai Hospital, Chairperson of DHA Diabetes Committee, Vice President EDEC and General Secretary, Emirates Diabetes Society said, “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. We are also been working on other extensive data that’s related to diabetes and this includes data on pregnancy and diabetes. By the end of this year, all DHA hospitals will have electronic patient files(Salama) and we will be able to know the exact number of diabetics across DHA health facilities as well as their co-morbidities and overall health profile.”
Besides focussing on data, the DHA also chalked out a series of initiatives in 2015. “We have a multi-faced strategy to deal with diabetes and we have carried out a series of initiatives over the last two years across the DHA to better the condition of those living with the disease and to educate the community about prevention and treatment methods,” said Dr Alawadi
Salama system across DHA hospitals
DHA has recently introduced the Salama Electronic Health Record, which will allow for uniform management diabetes across its health facilities so that every diabetic that visits a DHA entity receives the same level of diabetes care Dr M Hamed Farooqi, Director of the Dubai Diabetes Centre at the DHA said, “Unified multidisciplinary treatment for all patients is vital so that we control and manage effectively the sugar levels of our patients, ensuring that not only their diabetes is in control but also the complications that come along with the disease. We have achieved on an average, one per cent reduction in the three-month average blood sugar levels of all patients- many of whom suffer from morbid obesity.”
Dr Farooqi said that, according to a UK prospective diabetes study, a one 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 blood vessel disease, including blood vessels in the eyes, kidney and feet.
Joint clinics: First-of-its-kind initiative in Dubai:
Dr Mohammed Hassanein, Senior Consultant Endocrinologist at Dubai Hospital and Member of DHA Diabetes Committee, said in 2015 that the DHA introduced joint clinics for diabetics with complications to ensure they receive highest level of multidisciplinary care in one location. He said the joint clinics provide an opportunity for diabetics to visit multiple healthcare experts at the same time rather than taking several appointments, which is time-consuming and inconvenient.
The joint clinic is the first-of-its kind initiative in Dubai. Dr Hassanein said, “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. This ensures excellent levels of multidisciplinary treatment and is time-saving.”
The clinic is available on a weekly basis at Dubai Hospital and on a monthly basis at Latifa Hospital. Similarly, the DHA also introduced two new joint clinics in Dubai Hospital. The first clinic is a joint clinic with nephrologists and endocrinologists for diabetics with kidney problems. This clinic will take place on a monthly basis. The second clinic is a bi-monthly clinic with thyroid surgeons and endocrinologists. Dr Hassanein said, “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 which is based on inputs from multidisciplinary medical experts.”
Dr Hassanein said that feedback from patients has been very positive, it is extremely convenient for patients and importantly, it has reduced the number of admissions to hospitals due to diabetic complications.
Diabetic training for DHA doctors and nurses.
Recently 25 DHA nurses and doctors working in primary and secondary care completed their master’s degree with Cardiff University in the UK in diabetes management. The DHA has collaborated with the university to provide diabetes diplomas and master’s degrees to DHA medical staff members.
Diabetes Transition Care Program for Young Adults:
Dr. Al Awadi said paediatric patients with diabetes are moved to the adult clinic when they are 13 years of age. To ease this transition, DHA will introduced soon a joint clinic with paediatric endocrinologists and adult endocrinologists so that young adults are comfortable in their new healthcare environment.
Diabetes app available: Hayati.
In addition to these initiatives, the DHA launched in the last quarter of 2015, a diabetes app to educate diabetics on better management of their condition. Dr.Al Awadi said, “The DHA is keen to provide the highest level of care to diabetic patients and we will continue to roll out such initiatives which provide patients with convenience and ensure better patient compliance and outcomes.”