Posted on November 13, 2017

The theme of this year’s World Diabetes Day (WDD), taking place on November 14, is ‘Women and diabetes - our right to a healthy future’. With one in 10 women living with diabetes worldwide, the disease has become the ninth leading cause of death among women, and a health issue of global significance.

Dr. Abdulla Al Hamaq, Executive Director, Qatar Diabetes Association (QDA), a member of Qatar Foundation (QF), commented: “There are now about 199 million women suffering from diabetes globally, and with that, the GDM (gestational diabetes mellitus) will affect their babies. It is a priority in our society to give affordable and equal access to all women at risk of, or living with, diabetes. “For those women in developing countries who do not have access to healthcare, the situation becomes more difficult. Some of them don’t even have access to insulin. Therefore, it is vital that we educate women about how to prevent diabetes, and how to take care of themselves if they get diabetes.”

Qatar Foundation advocates for [].jpgQDA is at the forefront of research and awareness in the fight against the disease, and provides innovative patient care and diabetes education to various segments of society. It is also an active member of the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), the global advocate for the prevention and cure of diabetes, comprising 230 associations from 170 countries. In collaboration with the Landmark Group, QDA will hold a number of activities to mark WDD this year, providing people with greater awareness of the disease. Some of the events taking place include a symposium for doctors, a panel discussion about diabetes with physicians from police and army clinics, and a walkathon at QF’s Oxygen Park in Education City on November 17.

Additionally, QDA recently collaborated with Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar, a partner university of QF, on two different research methods regarding the complications involved with diabetes in women. The research involved minimizing the risk factors for diabetes in women after pregnancy. “About 50 per cent of women with gestational diabetes are at an increased risk of developing diabetes after their pregnancy, within five to 10 years. Babies born to mothers with gestational diabetes also have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes in their teens or early adulthood. We have to educate women about how to take care of themselves if they present with high blood sugar during pregnancy,and encourage them to eat healthy and stay active,” said Dr. Al Hamaq.

“Around 30-40 years ago, people were active and they ate healthy food. Now, due to the many unhealthy options available, people eat poorly and exercise much less, which leads to obesity, a risk factor that contributes to diabetes. That’s the problem we’re facing now in Qatar, with regard to this disease.”

In addition to organizing WDD activities each year, QDA holds a number of community outreach programs throughout the year, including diabetes awareness programs at schools and workplaces, symposiums, and diabetes prevention camps. For example, QDA’s Al-Bawasil camp for children regularly hosts around 60 children from Qatar and the MENA region to teach them about diabetes and healthy living. QDA also collaborates with healthcare professionals around the country to share knowledge, and stay up-to-date with current research.

Dr. Al Hamaq added: “Through our awareness campaigns, we try to decrease the number of people suffering from diabetes in our country. Our main goal at Qatar Diabetes Association is to educate people. We teach people at risk of diabetes how to prevent it, and we teach people with diabetes how to prevent complications. One out of two people are not aware they have it, and awareness is very important because it is a preventable disease.”

QDA was established in 1995, and is a leading authority on diabetes education and awareness. QDA has been an active member of IDF since 1997, and is one of the 24 diabetes organizations from 19 countries and territories that represent IDF’s Middle East and North Africa region.