health

How widespread is diabetes in UAE?

New survey reveals just how prevalent diabetes is among Emiratis and expatriates in UAE

Staff Report
13:08 November 14, 2017
OPN NURSE UAE hospital

Dubai: The second phase of the Dubai Diabetes Survey revealed that the total prevalence of diabetes among Emiratis in Dubai is 19 per cent, while the total of undiagnosed diabetes cases of Emiratis is 11 percent and the rate of those at the pre-diabetic Emiratis is 18.6 per cent.

The results of the survey, which was conducted by the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) in collaboration with the Dubai Statistics Centre, were announced during a press conference held at the authority’s headquarters on Tuesday.

The survey was conducted on 5,000 residents (both nationals and expats) above the age of 18. The second phase results, revealed on Tuesday, show the full picture of the state of diabetes in Dubai by including the prevalence, undiagnosed cases and pre-diabetic cases.

As the first phase— conducted in 2009 and 2011—only determined the prevalence of diagnosed diabetes in Dubai and found that it was 11.6 per cent among nationals.

The survey also revealed that the prevalence of diabetes among expats in Dubai is 14.7 per cent and the total prevalence of diabetes in Dubai is 15.2 per cent.

The second phase results also revealed that the percentage of undiagnosed diabetes among expats in Dubai is 11.3 per cent and the total percentage of undiagnosed diabetes in Dubai 11.3 per cent.

Meanwhile, the total rate of those at the Pre-Diabetes Stage (high risk of developing diabetes) among expats is 15.5 per cent and the total rate of those at the pre-diabetes stage is around 16 per cent.

Humaid Al Qutami, Chairman of the Board and Director General of the Dubai Health Authority said Dr Fatheya Al Awadi, Chair of DHA Diabetes Committee and Head of Endocrinology Department at Dubai Hospital said the results are vital to establish an effective action plan that will help fulfil the UAE national strategy  to reduce the prevalence of diabetes from 19 per cent (according to the IDF) to 16.4 per cent by 2021.

“There is a need to establish a robust prevention program to help avoid pre-diabetes, this is crucial in avoiding health complications related to diabetes in Dubai hence reducing cost for individuals and the governments and achieving the DHA strategy towards a healthier and happier society.”

Dr Fatheya also revealed during the conference that in addition to launching diabetes prevention programs, the authority is planning on establishing a Dubai Diabetes Risk calculator that will allow Dubai residents and nationals to find out how high of a risk they have to become diabetic.

Dr Mohamed Hassanein, Consultant Endocrinologist, Dubai Hospital said that the new statistics will also help target those who are at the pre-diabetes stage and tailor prevention programs that target high-risk groups and promote healthy lifestyle to those who are at low risk.

“Identifying the number of undiagnosed diabetes as well as the rate of those at risk of developing diabetes, is important because it allows for early management of those previously undiagnosed with diabetes,” he said.

Prevalence of diabetes among nationals

Dr Fatheya, said the results of the Dubai Diabetes Survey 2017 cannot be generalized to represent the whole country.  However, there has been no change in prevalence of diabetes among nationals living in Dubai in the last five years as both the Dubai Diabetes Survey 2017 and the International Diabetes Federation survey conducted in 2012 found that the prevalence among Emiratis is 19 per cent. Dr Fatheya said having no change in the prevalence is a good sign as it shows that government strategies and programs that aim to encourage the adoption of healthy lifestyles maybe working in controlling and preventing Diabetes in Dubai.

Furthermore, Dr AlAwadhi  added that other factors might include the increasing child birth rate over the death rate in Dubai (as recent annual population growth has averaged 7.7 per cent and is considered among the highest population growth in the world).

She said that a vast majority— 64.3 per cent –of the Dubai population are below the age of 35 making them at a low risk of diabetes. She also said younger people are less likely to have diabetes.