Posted on March 17, 2014

The imperative to prevent diabetes rather than to simply treat the disease was the subject of a multi-departmental grand round conducted at Hamad Medical Corporation by top diabetes expert and American Diabetes Association’s (ADA) Chief Scientific and Medical Officer Dr Robert Ratner (pictured).

Dr Ratner addressed over 300 physicians and other healthcare professionals involved in diabetes care during the event. His participation in the grand round is an important teaching tool for medical education. Dr Ratner and his colleagues from the ADA visited HMC to explore collaborations and discuss advancements in diabetes care and diabetes prevention education in Qatar, where diabetes incidence is among the highest in the world.

The ADA is the largest voluntary health organization in the US that deals with diabetes and its complications. The organization also led Stop Diabetes – a movement to end the devastating toll that diabetes takes on the lives of millions of individuals and families across the US.

“Diabetes is clearly increasing around the world, but there is a belt around which diabetes is increasing most rapidly, including sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and South Asia, where incidence rates are expected to double within the next 10 to 15 years,” Dr Ratner said adding: “It will make caring for all those people with diabetes highly problematic and more importantly, can result in many needless complications. What we know about diabetes today is that complications that can occur are preventable, so we are obligated to work towards preventing them.”

HMC’s Scientific, Academic and Faculty Affairs Chief Professor Edward Hillhouse said: “Dr. Ratner is an internationally recognized expert on diabetes care and diabetes prevention programs. He was principal investigator on the famous Diabetes Prevention Program, which established the role of lifestyle modification in preventing progression from pre-diabetes into overt type 2 diabetes.”

Dr Ratner discussed the findings of the Diabetes Prevention Program, a major multicenter clinical research study which found that overweight participants with pre-diabetes who lost modest weight through dietary changes and increased physical exercise sharply reduced their chances of developing diabetes. Pre-diabetes is a condition where the blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes. The study found that taking the oral diabetes drug Metformin (Glucophage) also reduced the risk, although less dramatically. 
Abdul Badi Abou-Samra, HMC 1 [].jpg

“Dr Ratner pointed out that the epidemic of diabetes was not due to new gene mutations in the population. Our genes are the same as they are 50 years ago. What has happened is that our way of living has changed – we walk less, exercise less, and we eat too much, because our environment is not conducive to living healthy lifestyles,” HMC’s Medicine Department chairman Professor Abdul Badi Abou-Samra said.

“HMC’s engagement with the ADA will be of immense benefit for people with diabetes and those at risk for the disease in Qatar. We are in the process of discussing accreditation of our diabetes education program by the ADA, and further collaborations including a joint clinical conference and a ‘Train the Trainer’ program to promote quality improvement in diabetes care,” the official explained.

Prof Abou-Samra stressed that patient empowerment to be skilled in self-management is the focus of the diabetes education program at HMC and has become the standard of care. “Accreditation of the HMC diabetes education program by the ADA will ensure that every patient at HMC is educated in accordance with the highly sophisticated standards developed by the ADA and adopted internationally by all specialties. The ADA will help us to develop a very structured program for diabetes education that enables people with diabetes to optimize their care by developing their skills in managing their condition, particularly in making lifestyle changes,” he added.