Diabetes experts emphasize need for 'patient-centric' care

Experts at a symposium in Istanbul have suggested a more patient-centric course of treatment for diabetes, stressing that medication alone cannot limit the growing number of people affected by the condition every year.
Diabetes has emerged as one of the leading killers in the Middle East and Africa (MENA) region.
“Caregivers must know that they can no longer adhere to a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach and that treatment must be more patient-specific,” a panel of experts told diabetes specialists gathered from across the region to discuss the latest advances in the field.
The Ras Al-Khaima-based company, Julphar Diabetes, organized the three-day symposium.
Abdulrazzaq Ali Al-Madani, CEO of Dubai Hospital, stated that the disease affects over 20 percent of the population in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrain. The United Arab Emirates, which had the fourth highest diabetes rate in the Gulf region until recently, has managed to lower diabetes rates through a set of aggressive measures that include raising awareness and using mobile clinics to treat people in remote areas.
More than 371 million people are currently diagnosed with diabetes worldwide. Half of those afflicted with the disease are still unaware of their condition.
In the MENA region, rapid development and urbanization are among the main factors that have contributed to a spurt in diabetes in recent decades.
Calling for a more personal approach to managing diabetes, Riyadh-based diabetes expert Aus Alzaid advised doctors to take each case individually and prescribe medication dosages according to the age and nature of the patient. “Forcing an elderly person to undergo intensive treatment to bring down prolonged blood sugar levels to their ideal increases the risk of hypoglycemia (dangerously low blood sugar levels). The limited long-term benefits of ideal blood sugar levels in this type of patient can be counterproductive,” he said.
The panel of speakers also cautioned against aggressive medication that frequently results in patients suffering from hypoglycemia. In rare cases, this can lead to seizures and death in the absence of immediate action.
Alzaid said school teachers and staff could be trained to deal with seizures in children, especially in view of the increasing number of youngsters affected by the disease. Schools should not discriminate against children with diabetes, he said.
In the UAE, according to Al-Madani, there is a law that gives children with type 1 diabetes special rights owing to their special needs, which include the need to use the bathroom more frequently or to take a break for insulin administration.
“Children diagnosed with diabetes can and should lead a normal life with the support of their parents,” said Alzaid. “Parents should not treat diabetic children as special.”
Experts have said that reducing obesity and implementing lifestyle changes alone cannot eradicate diabetes. Genetic makeup and other unidentified factors are also determining factors of the likelihood of contracting the disease.
Type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented, as scientists have not been able to determine it, nor can it be cured. It can only be managed or controlled by maintaining blood sugar levels, cholesterol and blood pressure. Alzaid stressed the fact that good management of diabetes does not only include maintaining blood sugar levels, but also maintaining normal blood pressure and LDL cholesterols level as low as possible.
Alzaid added that fasting is not advisable for people with type 1 diabetes. Those with type 2 diabetes should be cautious and follow their doctor’s recommendations. In the event of blood sugar levels dipping to dangerously low levels, it has been deemed permissible by Islamic scholars to break one’s fast.