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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 5 March 2021

Drug-use disorders in UAE rises by more than 500 per cent over last 20 years: study

The study also found the UAE ranked among the worst compared with similar countries for major depressive disorder, road injury, ischemic heart surgery, stroke, drug-use disorders and other cardiovascular and circulatory problems. 

The Global Health Burden of Disease Study is an assessment of mortality and loss of health due to diseases and injuries.

These measure premature mortality and time spent in less than ideal health.

The UAE was compared with 14 countries, including Qatar, Singapore, Kuwait, the US, Australia and Canada.

Drug-use – related to substance abuse, excluding tobacco and alcohol – rose by 526 per cent from 1990 to 2010. The number of drug users was not available.

The results were based on disability-adjusted life years – a measure of premature mortality and time spent with ill health.

Other common ailments in the UAE were ischemic heart condition and other cardiovascular and circulatory problems.

Nearly 500 researchers in 50 countries collaborated in the study led by the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Its findings were released at the Arab Health Congress during a panel discussion on Wednesday.

Australia, Iceland and Singapore were among the countries that had the lowest incidence in all the categories.

Presenting the data was Dr Ali Mokdad, professor of Global Health at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

He said depression and anxiety particularly affected women in Arab countries.

“Women go through cyclical phases in life. All these phases go through ups and downs of emotions,” said Dr Tabassum Inamdar, a clinic manager at Sultan Al Olama Medical Centre in Mirdif, who attended the congress.

“They do have social circles, but they may not be connecting [with others] on an emotional level.”

She said another issue with depression was that it often overlapped with other medical conditions.

As for premature death, the highest ranking causes in the UAE were road injury, ischemic heart disease and cerebrovascular disease.

Road injury increased as the cause of 12.2 per cent of premature deaths in 1990 to 16.5 per cent in 2010, while self-harm had one of the largest increases over those two decades – from 1.5 per cent of premature deaths to 2.7 per cent.

High body-mass index, or obesity, was the leading risk factor for disease that the UAE faced, followed by dietary risks and high-fasting plasma glucose.

Ryder Smith, head of Middle East health at professional-services company PricewaterhouseCoopers, attended the Arab Health Congress. He said progress was being made in tackling these diseases.

“We are encouraged that these diseases and conditions are being tackled head-on by the relevant authorities,” he said.

“The burdens on society are high, often interrelated, and can only be addressed through disease management approaches that consider both the medical and social needs.”

Published: January 30, 2014 04:00 AM


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