200 doctors from Dubai Health Authority complete first international diabetes course

The Dubai Health Authority (DHA) yesterday announced the accreditation of 200 doctors from across Dubai following the Emirates’ First International Diabetes Course organized in collaboration with the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE).

This is the first time this course has been delivered outside the USA and was supported by the Ministry of Health.

The course was discussed in a DHA press conference yesterday in their headquarters attended by Dr. Ahmad Ibrahim Saif Kalban, CEO, Primary Health Sector at the DHA, Dr. Abdulrazzak Ali Almadani CEO of Dubai Hospital, and Dr. Osama Hamdy, representing AACE from Harvard Medical School.

During the press conference Dr. Kalban highlighted the importance of the course, which ran throughout 2009 and into early this year, in collaboration with the AACE, the DHA, and GSK. It aims to help achieve the DHA’s objectives to spread awareness of the important of early detection and management of treatment in the UAE.

Dr Kalban stressed the DHA’s significant role, under the guidance of the senior management, in promoting medical knowledge to best serve the community, pointing to the efforts undertaken by the Authority to promote the city’s status as a medical leader in the region.

The DHA aims to provide continuous medical education for physicians in all disciplines in order to improve the development of doctors and the medical profession, in both public and private sectors.

The CEO of the primary health care sector said that the course is part of the efforts undertaken by the Authority to strengthen its strategic partnerships with various medical institutions at the global level with a view to spreading best therapeutic practices for patients with diabetes and their application in various clinics and centers of Dubai Health Authority. The DHA’s efforts also focus on the training of doctors and specialists involved in caring for patients with diabetes, in light of the of the increasing prevalence of this disease at the national level, which ranks second globally in terms of incidence of the disease.

Dr Kalban continued, “Dubai Health Authority understands the negative impact of behavior, poor dietary habits and lack of exercise is having on people across the UAE, habits that cause diabetes. We therefore have a responsibility to address these causes and to identify the latest methods and best practices to manage the disease to prevent diabetes development in future.”

Dr. Kalban added that this course has focused on the first lines of defense against diabetes through the training of primary health care physicians, providing them with information, expertise and skills necessary to reduce the burden of diabetes.

Dr. Abdulrazzak Ali Almadani, CEO of Dubai Hospital commented:

“The current program marks the first time the AACE has conducted a course outside the US, with the UAE’s high prevalence of diabetes one of the key factors in the decision to reaching out to doctors in the Emirates. About 24% of UAE nationals have diabetes making it the second most affected country in the World after Nauru. It has been the DHA’s strategy to tackle this condition using a multidisciplinary approach and training our primary healthcare physicians is a crucial part of this strategy.”

Ms Heba Al Shaar, Director of Institutional Marketing and Communications and committee-member of the DHA’s diabetes screening and awareness program said that in addition to training primary health care doctors the DHA is also focusing on its two-fold strategy of conducting a massive house-hold screening survey to gauge the average percentage of people in Dubai with diabetes as well as a targeted awareness program which will reach out to school children to educate them about the importance of healthy eating and exercise.

Dr. Nahed Monsef Director of health affairs department, primary health care spoke about the importance of improving standards, and updating doctors’ knowledge and skills which will reflect positively on quality of care on key performance indicators related to diabetes management in primary health care.

Dr.Monsef added that, “Patient care in the diabetic mini clinic exceeds international standards in some of our health centers.”

Dr. Monsef also announced that the provision of international standards of care provided to diabetic patients and the extension of the training programs to all PHC physicians is a key strategic move for the DHA.

Dr. Fargaly the head of Diabetic scientific group in primary health care also stressed on the importance of auditing performance indicator for the processes and outcomes of diabetic patients care. Dr. Fargaly added the improvement results in primary health care diabetic mini- clinic patient care reflect the great improvement and updated knowledge and skills of the health care provider.

Dr Hamdy is one of a number of leading experts who traveled to the UAE to lead the final stage of the course. Broken down into five core modules and delivered over six months, the program addressed a broad spectrum of diabetes-related issues such as obesity, the prevention of type 2 diabetes, management of cardiovascular risk and hypertension in patients with diabetes as well as numerous diabetic diseases.

Course director and Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, Dr. Osama Hamdy said, “With all the new research, practices and technology available, quality of care for diabetes has radically changed. We want to make sure that GPs are up to date on how to best prevent and manage diabetes, particularly in the UAE where it is such an issue. Our course, alongside numerous ministry of health driven initiatives, will certainly help control both the progression of the disease and its high financial and lifestyle costs.”

Dr Hamdy added, “The course has been completed amidst recent debate surrounding Avandia, which physicians have been advised to continue prescribing by the AACE, despite a leaked US Senate report which attempted to counter the FDA’s approved course of action.”

“61% of patients with diabetes in the UAE already have kidney disease,” added Dr Hamdy. “The team will be exploring how to improve this statistic and make sure that we cut the cost to the individual and the overall healthcare system. We will also be sharing some best-practice gathered during the Diabetes Prevention Program, a major multicenter clinical research study conducted in the US. From the study we discovered that participants who lost a modest amount of weight through dietary changes and increased physical activity sharply reduced their chances of developing diabetes. Arming GPs in the UAE with the knowledge to affect this change should have a strongly positive impact on the prevalence of diabetes.”

Dr. Enrique Caballero, Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School focused on the specific impact of diabetes on cardiovascular disease.

“Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death in diabetes patients. Therefore we must now move from concentrating on blood sugar control only to a more comprehensive approach which also addresses blood pressure, lipids and weight control,” he said.

Dr. Caballero, who is also the Director of the Latino Diabetes Initiative also added, “There are a number of similarities between the Latino and Arab ethnic groups that put them at high risk of insulin resistance, a key factor in the development of type II diabetes. While there may be a genetic predisposition there is also a higher incidence of abdominal obesity as well as cultural and social issues like sedentary living and eating-centric social activity.”