Posted on April 17, 2020

The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH), Hamad Medical Corporation’s (HMC) Qatar Metabolic Institute (QMI), and the Primary Health Care Corporation (PHCC) have launched an outreach program to ensure individuals living with diabetes are not only continuing to receive the care needed to manage their condition but are also being proactively treated as part of a prevention strategy to minimise their risk for severe COVID-19 illness.

This step comes in light of the intensive efforts made by the health sector in the State of Qatar to combat COVID-19, the MoPH said in a press statement. Entitled ‘COVID-19 and Diabetes’, the program features virtual clinics and remote consultations, has seen the establishment of patient management pathways, and is providing guidance for Type 1 and Type 2 diabetics during the COVID-19 pandemic through the development of two COVID-19 and Diabetes Guidelines.

Co-Chair of the National Diabetes Committee and Director of the Qatar Metabolic Institute Professor Abdul-Badi Abou-Samra said people with diabetes have decreased immunity and must take extra precautions and preventive measures to protect themselves from COVID-19. He says it is important to minimise their risk of severe illness by being proactive with diabetes care and prevention strategies. “The COVID-19 and Diabetes program delivers essential diabetes care to all diabetic patients during the coronavirus pandemic and proactively prioritises the care of patients who have poorly-controlled diabetes and multiple risk factors,” said Professor Abou-Samra.

Chair of the National Diabetes Committee Research Committee and Professor of Medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar Professor Shahrad Taheri said the program is designed to be preemptive, promoting awareness and providing direct access to diabetes care teams. “People with pre-existing noncommunicable diseases such as diabetes and hypertension are more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with this virus. Those who have poorly controlled diabetes (Type 1 or Type 2) and are treated with insulin will be contacted as a priority so we can make any necessary medication adjustments and offer access to online diabetes management support.

We want as many of our patients as possible to be achieving their target ranges, which not only includes blood sugar control but also control of blood pressure and cholesterol,” said Professor Taheri. Senior Consultant and Head of the Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism Department at HMC, Dr. Mahmoud Zirie, said the MoPH, HMC, and PHCC are working together to identify patients most at risk for diabetes complications. “High-risk patients are being identified through a patient data review. Treatment teams consisting of physicians and or diabetes educators, as required, will contact patients through video and/or telephone to conduct remote consultations,” said Dr. Zirie. Executive Director of Operations and Senior Consultant of Family Medicine at PHCC Dr. Samya Al Abdulla noted that teams are in place to support patients.

“Our interdisciplinary teams of family physicians, nurses, dietitians, and health educators are ready to support the management of diabetic patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. An integrated pathway is already in place linking HMC and PHCC clinicians with patients as part of our commitment to supporting the management of diabetics, especially those who require specialist care,” said Dr. Al Abdulla. Individuals living with diabetes who have questions about how COVID-19 could affect them can call the diabetes hotline — at 16099; select option 4.

This phone-based emergency service is available seven days a week from 7am to 10pm to provide individuals with diabetes, as well as their relatives or caregivers, with medical advice. For more information about diabetes and to access the COVID-19 and Diabetes Guidelines (Type 1 and Type 2), visit http://diabetes.hamad.qa.

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