The event was also attended by a number of high-profile speakers and dignitaries, including His Excellency Sheikh Abdulla bin Mohamed Al Hamed, Chairman of the Department of Health – Abu Dhabi, His Excellency HE Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak is Chairman of the Department of Culture and Tourism; His Excellency Saif Saeed Ghobash, Director General, the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi; and Mohamed Al Hameli, Acting - undersecretary of Department of Health.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, His Excellency Sheikh Abdulla bin Mohamed Al Hamed, Chairman of the Department of Health – Abu Dhabi, said: "We are very proud to host the International Diabetes Federation Congress 2017 in Abu Dhabi this year. This prestigious event builds on the Emirate’s efforts to work closely with the international community towards finding solutions for health issues that pose challenges to our societies today.”
According to the latest findings from the International Diabetes Federation's 2017 Atlas, almost 7.3 million adults aged between 20 to 79 years suffer from diabetes across the Middle East and North Africa. More alarmingly, there are approximately 3.3 million individuals aged between 20 and 79 years in the region who have been diagnosed with impaired glucose tolerance, a pre-diabetes stage of hyperglycemia, which puts them at risk of developing diabetes in the near future. Highlighting the significance of this conference to Abu Dhabi, it is projected that the prevalence of diabetes among the same age group amongst the Emirate’s residents stands at 16.7%.
"As part of its efforts to raise awareness about chronic diseases including diabetes and prevent their spread among the population, the Emirate of Abu Dhabi has launched a programme targeting all citizens aged 18 years or over to identify the risk factors associated with these diseases, ensure their early detection, and identify the appropriate medical treatment to avoid further complications”, added Al Hamed.
According to the same research by the International Diabetes Federation's 2017 Atlas, the number of people with diabetes across the Middle East and North Africa is projected to double and reach a total of 82 million by 2045. In 2017 until today, diabetes has already claimed 318,000 deaths in the region among adults aged between 20 and 79 years old, 8.5% of which were in people under the age of 60.
Diabetes not only imposes severe health risks but also a large economic burden worldwide. Based on 2017 figures, healthcare expenditure on diabetes currently stands at USD3.21 billion across the Middle East and North Africa region, and is projected to increase to USD5.35 billion by 2045. Today, spending on diabetes diagnosis and treatment accounts for around 17% of total public spending on healthcare.
Commenting on the UAE’s role in leading the fight against diabetes, Al Hamed said: “Our wise leadership continues to pave the way in the fight against diabetes by launching numerous initiatives that are aimed at encouraging residents across the country to lead a healthy lifestyle. And as such, the Department of Health – Abu Dhabi has worked with government entities and stakeholders from the private sector to adopt community programmes centered around making diabetes prevention through increased physical activity a priority across the nation.”
The Department of Health has launched several educational awareness initiatives, including weekly free programmes for the public to encourage walking, running, and cycling. Testament to this, it launched the weekly programme at Yas Marina Circuit, in cooperation with the Abu Dhabi Sports Council, the National Insurance Company "Daman", and Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, to make Yas Marina Circuit Formula 1 track an attractive exercise spot and offered more than 500 bicycles for public use for free. Over the years, the number of participants has increased exponentially, especially among UAE nationals who represented 22% of all participants in 2016 compared to 5% in 2011.
To mark the World Diabetes Day in November, the Imperial College London Diabetes Center has been organising the nation’s leading annual walkathon, WALK 2017, aimed at raising awareness about diabetes across the country. For the past 11 years, thousands of people have been participating in the event and completing the walk stretching over 5 kilometres along a programme of fun-filled family activities and performances while pledging to adopt healthy lifestyle choices.
Building on these efforts and given the strong link between obesity and diabetes, the Emirate of Abu Dhabi established a special unit in 2016 focused on limiting the spread of obesity among children. The working team includes representatives from across 12 government entities across various sectors who use this platform to share knowledge and expertise to further propel the fight against childhood obesity. Furthermore, the Department of Health – Abu Dhabi works closely with the Department of Education and Knowledge and the Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority to develop and update school cafeteria standards across the Emirate to provide healthy food options for all students in order to help maintain healthy weight levels.
In its efforts to deter the consumption of unhealthy products like cigarettes and fizzy drinks, the UAE government began levying excise tax as of October 1, 2017 at a rate of 100 per cent on tobacco and energy drinks and 50 per cent on sugary drinks.
Over the next five days, 10,000 experts will share best practices and the latest in global research on diabetes. Conference attendees include specialists from across the healthcare supply chain including physicians and nurses, educators, public health professionals, epidemiologists and policy makers. With over 160 hours of sessions, 300 top-level speakers, 1000 posters and an estimated 21 CME credits, the conference aims to provide all delegates with an invaluable learning experience through varied and innovative sessions.
In 2016, Abu Dhabi won the bid to host the IDF Congress, following stiff competition from leading venues and well-known cities around the world.
For more information, please visit https://www.idf.org/our-activities/congress.html