Early detection programmes for diabetes were launched in 10 healthcare centres across the UAE.
The Minister of Health and Prevention, in cooperation with Johnson & Johnson, announced the project on Sunday.
“The ministry aims to activate the awareness campaign launched in March this year to reach the largest segment of society as part of its efforts to combat non-communicable diseases, especially diabetes,” said Dr Haifa Fares, head of the ministry’s primary healthcare programme.
“The move is aimed to improve the results of the national indicator of the proportion of the population with diabetes, as part of its strategy to provide comprehensive and integrated healthcare in innovative and sustainable ways to ensure community prevention of diseases and to optimise the programme through the provision of preventive services.”
She said that the priority given to combating diseases like diabetes was included in the National Agenda 2021.
The UAE Government has been encouraging healthy eating and lifestyle changes to reduce those numbers from current levels of about 19 per cent of the population.
The average global figure is 8.3 per cent, with men aged 55 to 59 most at risk.
Diabetes is placing huge economic strain on health providers, governments and insurers – but with early detection and disease management, as well as strong prevention programmes, that cost can be reduced.
In some cases, with careful and often drastic lifestyle alterations, type 2 diabetes can even be reversed.
In February, New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) launched the search for 20,000 Emiratis for a long-term study to better understand the UAE's high rate of obesity, diabetes and heart disease.
Volunteers will undergo physical tests and answer questions on lifestyle, genetics, and their workplaces and homes.
“Small studies for one or two years also won’t answer the question. This is a huge, concentrated effort," said Dr Maha Barakat, director general of the Abu Dhabi Health Authority, speaking at the launch.
"I hope the answers will be available in our lifetime but certainly it will be available in our children’s lifetime.”