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Department of Health Mandates ‘Weqaya Food Specifications’ across Healthcare Facilities in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi
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07 August 2018

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, 07 August 2018: Department of Health - Abu Dhabi (DoH), the regulator of the healthcare sector in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, is necessitating that healthcare providers in Abu Dhabi provide healthy meal selections in cafeterias, vending machines and affiliated restaurants. It is also calling for eliminating unhealthy fast food, soft drinks and junk food options to visitors, patients on regular meals and staff. DoH has set 29 November 2018 as the deadline for facilities to implement changes and ensure adherence to Weqaya standards.

The initiative is part of DoH’s continued efforts to minimize the rise of chronic diseases caused by unhealthy food habits among locals and residents such as obesity, Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases and cancers.

The Weqaya programme was developed in close collaboration with Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority (ADFCA) and Abu Dhabi Quality and Conformity Council, as per internationally approved standards. Healthy foods carrying the Weqaya logo must conform to certain criteria, for example, foods be rich in minerals and vitamins, low in fat, low in salt and rich in fiber.

Dr Omniyat Al Hajri, Director, Public Health Division at the Department of Health – Abu Dhabi said that the decision to promote healthy and nutritious meals stems from the belief that prevention is better than cure, and further reinforces DoH’s commitment to its vision of fostering a healthier Abu Dhabi.

Al Hajri added: “The Department of Health has begun to actively engage with representatives from the Industrial Development Bureau, various public and private healthcare facilities and a number of expert nutritionists. We held an educational workshop to familiarize them with the necessary criteria they need to meet the so that they can quickly begin adopting the Weqaya specifications before the November deadline. In addition, we are encouraging food businesses to incorporate a Weqaya healthy food scheme by labelling packaged meals with the Weqaya safety food logo following approval on their nutritional content.”

Healthy eating is an important component to achieve and maintain good health throughout a person’s life; DoH encourages and supports the consumption of healthy food, whether it is home cooking or eating out at restaurants and cafés. The Weqaya healthy food specifications were introduced in 2013 by DoH in collaboration with ADFCA to support awareness of healthy eating and the importance of adopting good eating habits. The Quality Conformity Council (QCC) should approve prepackaged foods bearing the Weqaya and AD Trustmark logo.

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