Bahrain appears to be gradually getting to grips with the scourge of diabetes as a result of the government’s persistent efforts and increased public awareness … or at least levelling off the number of sufferers, according to a senior Bahraini medic.
Endocrinology and Diabetes consultant Professor Dr Dalal Ahmed Alromaihi expressed optimism, noting that despite the disease’s rising prevalence in the region, its incidence among adults in Bahrain has remained stable at 15 per cent for the past three years.
Diabetes has long been a major concern in the Gulf region due to lifestyle habits, with people exercising less, following unhealthy diets and refusing to kick their tobacco addiction.
According to Health Ministry’s 2018 national health survey, 18pc of the adult population in Bahrain had diabetes, compared with 14.8pc in 2007. “We are now at 15pc which is being maintained steadily,” Dr Alromaihi told the GDN.
“The next national health survey will take place in 2023 – keeping the rate the same could be considered a success because it is continuously increasing in our region.”
Dr Alroamihi, a board member and scientific committee chair at the Bahrain Diabetes Society (BDS) was speaking to the GDN as Bahrain joins countries across the globe to mark World Diabetic Day today. The society established in 1989, has been a member of the International Diabetes Society since 1992.
She emphasised that the risk of developing diabetes cannot be ignored and urged people to get regular screenings and change their lifestyles.
“As we mark World Diabetes Day we would like to reiterate that it is an opportunity to educate, spread awareness and improve services,” said Dr Alromaihi.
“At BDS we do this by awareness activities to provide community education and counselling to people living with diabetes and their family members, in addition to activities with the focus on prevention amongst those at risk.
“We also conduct many events delivered to healthcare workers to increase their knowledge of the most up-to-date information in diabetes care and provide scientific research in all areas of diabetes and obesity, which are often linked.”
Dr Alromaihi underlined the need for regular health check-ups as a major step towards diabetes prevention, citing the risks of Type 2 diabetes, which is mainly lifestyle-related and develops over time.
“Screening is exceptionally important as diabetes can be a silent disease in many cases in the beginning,” she explained. “A person might have Type 2 diabetes and not know about it, yet, the condition could already be starting to damage internal organs.
“We recommend screening for all those who are at risk – who are above 35 years of age, with a family history, overweight or obese, do not exercise regularly, have high cholesterol or heart disease, plus women recovering from diabetes in pregnancy or with polycystic ovaries.”
The theme for this year’s World Diabetes Day is ‘Access to Diabetes Care: If Not Now, then When?’ in line with the World Health Organisation’s call for universal health coverage.
Bahrain, fortunately, has excellent access to care and medical services needed by patients with diabetes, added Dr Alromaihi.
“We utilise this year’s slogan to remind everyone to use such services that are available in primary and secondary care,” she added, pointing out the spectrum of services available at Bahrain’s healthcare facilities offered a spectrum of services to cover the needs of diabetic patients.
“We urge everyone to engage in a healthier lifestyle and to seek a consultation from dieticians who provide advice on medical nutrition therapy and help with weight management, as well as engaging regularly in moderate-intensity physical exercise for 150-300 minutes per week.”
Additionally, she asked sufferers to take advantage of the available treatment services in Bahrain to help control the condition.
“It is necessary to focus on the importance of quitting smoking to prevent heart disease and smoking cessation clinics are also available in primary care services in Bahrain,” added Dr Alromaihi.
“We are all at risk of diabetes and, therefore, we should get screening done routinely and should adopt a healthier lifestyle, diet and take regular exercise to maintain a suitable weight to avoid diabetes.
“People living with diabetes should seek medical care and utilise the wealth of services available in Bahrain to ensure that they continue to lead a healthy and productive life, despite the condition.”