Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education and Sanofi-aventis Launch Diabetes Campaign to Reach Every School in the UAE

Published December 22nd, 2009 - 02:13 GMT
A unique program to highlight the risk of diabetes II to school children and their parents was launched yesterday and will cover every school in the UAE over the next three years.
Sponsored by Sanofi-aventis and in partnership with the Ministries of Health and Education, the national campaign gives practical advice on the best ways to avoid the disease through changes in diet, exercise and lifestyle.
A total of 120 nurses and teachers representing ten schools were included in the first workshop at the Al Manar School in Sharjah as part of the first wave addressing schools from Sharjah, Dubai, Ajman, and Umm Al Quwain. The intensive four hour session covered three of the most significant factors in type II diabetes; diabetes management, diabetes and lifestyle, and diabetes and nutrition.
Dr. Mahmoud Fikri, CEO for Health Policies Affairs and Chairman of National Diabetes Board Ministry of Health, described the campaign as essential to the well-being of future generations. “We need to be able to instill the dangers of diabetes and raise awareness of the disease across the entire country. This is a unique operation and by 2012, we will have visited every single school in the country in a bid to fight the causes of this disease. That is a remarkable achievement and one that we believe will save thousands of lives,” he said.
“These activities are aimed at raising awareness of diabetes type II within our educational system, and in turn protect the generations to come. Supplying our youth with adequate information and advice can make a real difference in our aim to change the current unhealthy lifestyle they are leading” Said Dr. Ossama Alalla, Physical Activity Specialist, School Activity Department, UAE Ministry of Education
The educational program aims to show students and parents that while diabetes is a very real threat, the risk of being affected by the disease can be dramatically reduced by following a few simple guidelines.
“The UAE in particular is in serious need of diabetes education, assessment and awareness campaign. It is our duty towards the community to assist in doing that “ said Mr. Jean-Marc Voissier, sanofi-aventis General Manager for Gulf countries. “In a country where diabetes affects 1 in 5 of the total population and 40% of people over the age of 60, something needs to be done,” he said. “There have been some highly valuable initiatives in the past, but we thought that the best way to break this cycle was to start at the grass roots, and that means children.
“To grow up in a culture where a lack of exercise and a poor diet is the norm is going to be very difficult break in later life, but an early introduction to a healthy lifestyle and an illustration of its benefits is the best start we can give. This disease can be a killer and we want to stop it in its tracks.”
The ten schools taking part were given 800 questionnaires – ‘What do you eat? What do you do? – to be completed by children aged 8, 9, and 10 years. Each will also be given a pedometer to help measure their daily exercise.
In addition to education, the program will screen school children to asses the percentage of diabetic children and those who are at risk, and will tailor accordingly action plans to assist them live a healthier life.
The 2nd workshop will take place in the second school term of 2010 will address care givers and teachers from selected schools from Al Ain, Abu Dhabi and the western region, Fujairah, Khurfukan, Kalba and Dibba. More workshops are planned in 2010 with the objective to cover all UAE schools by the end of the 3-years program in an attempt to help raise a health conscious diabetes-free generation.

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