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Seminar urges fight against diabetes Disease affects 24% of Kuwait population

KUWAIT CITY, March 21: “Something that invests in the health, the future and prosperity of the Kuwaiti people is very much in our interest”, were the words of US Ambassador Matthew Tueller as he spoke late Wednesday evening at a “United against Diabetes” held at the Sheraton Hotel.

The Seminar was jointly organized by the American Women’s League (AWL), Mazaya Clover Center Specialized British Medical Unit and the Dasman Diabetes Institute under the sponsorship of Nova Nordisk Pharmaceuticals.

Free glucose and bone density testing were held for interested volunteers at the seminar. Those found to be at risk were given on the spot medical advice on what dietary and physical measures to adopt.

Dr Faisal Hamd Refaie, Director of Clinical Services at the Dasman Diabetes Institute, the first speaker at the Seminar, dealt with the prevalence of diabetes in Kuwait and what Dasman Institute is doing about it as a model and what to do to either prevent or manage the disease which afflicts about 24% of the population making Kuwait number six among the league of the world’s afflicted nations in prevalence terms.

Ambassador Matthew Tueller of the United States for his part said with Diabetes afflicting many people in the US and Kuwait, it is great to see people in the two countries come together in programs to improve health awareness and healthy lifestyles. “At the end of the day it brings people together in people-to-people relationships and not about government to government. Something that invests in the health, the future and prosperity of the Kuwaiti people is very much in our interest”. He added that in about 20 or 30 years from now when the memory of Kuwait’s liberation fades the country will surely remember the collaborative effort of the American Women’s League and their Kuwaiti counterparts in successfully ridding it of diabetes.

Dr Kashif Rizvi, a consultant physician, Endocrinologist and Diabetologist at the Mazaya Clover Center Specialized British Medical Unit in Jabriya, as he took the stage tried to explain the mechanics of the incidence of diabetes in the simplest of terms. He said the disease is a diverse group of about fifty to sixty conditions in which sugar handling by the body is impaired adding that somewhere along the line the sugar level becomes abnormal so it’s very important to recognize how it happens.

In type1 Diabetes, there’s a clear disease entity which is 10% the total burden of the disease. The body’s immune system in defense against something foreign makes antibodies which then go to attack the cells in the pancreas stopping its ability to produce insulin thus leading to Diabetes type1.

Dr Rizvi intimated that what is happening around the world today is an alarmingly high projected increase in the number of Diabetes cases around the world in 2025 which will happen as a result of high calorie intake and less physical activity resulting in a form of the disease called type2 Diabetes. He added that what are needed instead of the Diabetes centers and the like are education, engagement and empowerment of the people to recognize that either something terrible is gone wrong in the world or it’s something pretty simple to tackle together as a community. The projected increase of the disease’s prevalence in the Middle East region, according to Dr Rizvi is 105% in 2025.

“In those days when school pupils used to walk or ride bicycles to school, people moving up the stair case to enter their offices and apartments and so forth, type2 Diabetes wasn’t that common. The fittest person in the Kuwaiti household is the maid and that is because she does all the movement in the home”. He said without sufficient movement to go with the excessive calorie intake, bad cholesterol known as LDL gets deposited in the blood vessels which sometimes get pushed into blocking vital passageways to the heart, thus causing stroke or if they don’t get pushed and keep piling up in the arteries they cause high blood pressure.

“Highlighting the importance of lifestyle change as well as the signs to recognize the problem, but overall education, prevention and treatment  of this complex but very common disease is what we should tackle as a community,” noted Dr Rizvi. The diabetes doctor said if controlling the disease is restricted to medication alone, no healthcare system of the world can cope with it so what’s needed is partnership between the physician and the patient with each party understanding their roles and responsibilities as they establish a lifelong partnership to tackle the long term chronic disease.

Little subtle changes in lifestyle like resorting to healthy balanced diets, reduction in starch intake like energy-dense foods can make a tremendous difference. 20-30 minutes of light physical activity can also prove to be more beneficial than taking diabetic drugs daily.

AWL is a non-profit, non-political group of American and no-American women providing friendship and support for members as well as non-members. The group has been around for 50 years in Kuwait. About 20% of the group’s members are non-American. They organize social and cultural events like the Diabetes awareness and education seminar being held Wednesday.


By: Iddris Seidu Arab Times Staff

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