MOH News
The Closing Statement of the International Conference on Countering Diabesity in Gulf Countries
22 October 2015
 The International Conference on Countering Diabesity in Gulf Countries, which was held under the slogan “Partnership for Change,” wrapped up today evening in Riyadh city. It was held under the auspices of His Excellency the Minister of Health, Eng. Khalid bin Abdulaziz Al-Falih.
 
The events of the conference were attended by representatives of the Executive Board of the GCC Health Ministers Council, the Ministry of Health (MOH), the Saudi Society of Family and Community Medicine, and the National Center for Diabetes, in cooperation with a raft of regional and international bodies and institutions, atop of which are the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean, the World Organization of Family Doctors (WONCA), the Imperial College in London, Odnis University in Denmark, and a number of experts and professors from various Gulf and national universities, institutes and bodies.
 
The conference came up with a number of recommendations, which were delivered by the Director-General of the Executive Board of the GCC Health Ministers Council, and Head of the Conference’s Scientific Committee, Dr. Tawfiq bin Ahmed Khoja. The recommendations tackled several axes, including the preventive and therapeutic national policies. In this domain, the attendees called for countering diabetes and obesity diseases and giving them priority over other health issues, noting that this requires effective political support and sufficient humanitarian and financial resources as a preliminary step before the GCC countries start launching and applying the necessary programs, policies and plans.
The conferees reiterated that combating diabetes is a joint national mission, whose responsibility lies on the shoulder of all governmental, non-governmental, social and educational bodies as part of the conference’s slogan “Partnership for Change”.
 
The participants in the conference urged developing programs for countering diabetes, obesity and related diseases and giving such programs priority over the other health systems in the GCC countries, while ensuring that appropriate measures are taken at the national level. This includes developing national policies for the prevention, early detection and treatment of diabetes, particularly among pregnant women, and ensuring that such policies will be effective across the health system.
 
It was recommended that such policies should take into account the internationally agreed-upon development objectives of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as well as its key performance indicators. The attendees called for setting national goals to handle the disease’s risk factors, boost its prevention and early detection and manage it; that’s to be added to preparing effective work plans to achieve such goals and implementing scientifically-approved and cutting edge healthcare standards.
 
The monitoring activities have attracted the attention of the attendees as well to ensure application of healthcare standards and improvement of comprehensive healthcare quality on an ongoing base. It was suggested that a body (like a committee, panel or a national coordination unit) is established to combat diabetes and obesity at the domestic and national level. This body is meant to include all policies, programs and researches (not only those related to diabetes). This will help ensure optimal use of humanitarian and financial resources and development of programs to combat other diseases, especially chronic ones. This body will be tasked with:
 
  • Preparing a database on the current situation of the epidemiology of diabetes and the burden of morbidity.
  • Providing advice for the member states on how to prepare national programs to rationalize spending on healthcare and protection against diabetes.
  • Preparing polices to boost healthy life styles and handle other risk factors of diabetes.
  • Forming an international network to enable diabetics to enjoy appropriate healthcare and publishing the fruits of international researches and activities in this domain.
  • Gathering and publishing successful experiences in the field of care for patients with diabetes.
 
The participants in the gathering recommended also allocating necessary humanitarian and financial resources to ensure more focus on prevention, early detection and treatment of diabetes. They further called for boosting cooperation with the relevant authorities, such as non-governmental organizations and the private sector, and achieving integration to treat and take care of diabetics as part of the events and programs of primary healthcare, by means of applying national strategies.
 
In the field of health awareness, Dr. Khoja said the conferees reiterated the need of boosting health awareness and education in a bid to reduce patterns and risk factors of diabetes, obesity and other chronic diseases. Therefore, he urged decision makers to provide a supportive environment based on legislative procedures, and individuals to adopt healthy food behaviors, stop smoking and practice exercises regularly. As for health professionals, they were appealed to promote health awareness about diabetes and treat persons exposed to develop the disease’s risk factors.
 
The attendees recommended also developing policies to enable diabetics in the fields of healthcare, being provided alongside other applicable health systems and national strategic plans to promote health in all social and religious and economic awareness domains. Furthermore, they urged maintaining the family and community health through the use of an entrance to healthy life cycles for protection against risk factors since childhood.
 
Furthermore, it was recommended that well-qualified preachers are assigned to promote religious understanding among patients at the diabetes centers; that’s to be added to finding an easy and appropriate mechanism to record data about the spread of risk factors and diabetes, particularly among children, young people and women. Furthermore, the conferees recommended drafting laws to boost health of diabetics as part of health promotion programs, and channeling such programs into changing trends and acquiring necessary skills to modify unhealthy behaviors, and integrating them into school curriculums.
 
In addition, the attendees suggested following up medical events, preparing awareness programs for the rehabilitation of cadres in the field of health promotion to ensure the dissemination of health awareness in the community, and making use of media outlets. They also recommended harnessing all efforts in order to achieve this goal, especially among young people and girls at schools, colleges and institutes, and providing them with an access to all information in this regard.
 
It was also suggested that technical and medical staff in the health sector, including physicians, nurses and others, are given a chance to get continuous education to brief them on the latest developments in the fields of prevention and management of diabetes and its complications, as well as its psychological and social effects, including the most effective ways to communicate with patients.
 
Participants maintained that boosting healthy lifestyles and encouraging behavioral change help prevent diabetes and other related non-communicable diseases. They reiterated the importance of physical exercise, healthy diet, and quitting smoking as prevention factors against diabetes and other non-communicable diseases. Physical exercise should be facilitated for everyone, including women, children, and the elderly. More attention should be given to promoting healthy foods and encouraging smokers to quit. All concerned authorities are to work in concert with the private sectors, urban planners, NGOs, etc. for creating an environment, where the healthy choice is the easy choice. To reduce the incidence of diabetes type 2 in the obese and other categories at risk, obesity treatment programs should be launched through the targeted support for modifying the lifestyle of the obese and others who are at risk. In addition, national strategies should be set out and adopted along with health and community care concepts to curb the modifiable risk factors for diabetes type 2, such as: unhealthy food, lack of physical activity, and tobacco use.
    
With regard to patient empowerment and boosting the dialogue with health providers, the conference has recommended empowering diabetics, their families, and health providers to be partners in the process of dealing with diabetes; and ensuring they have the required personal skills to play an active role in dealing with diabetics and the obese, and be able to provide the related services to diabetics empowerment, including educational aids, and approved individual treatment plans. Patients are to be encouraged to be actively involved in diabetic healthcare aspects and self-management. Health providers are to support them through using proper educational aids to make it easy for them to understand and take the sound decisions based on much awareness, when it comes to their treatment and self-care activities.  Such empowerment further strengthens the mutual trust and effective dialogue between patients and health professionals. That way, patients are guaranteed their full rights and the best healthcare possible. To that end, health cadres are to receive means of communication, and required trainings with a special focus on quality integrated healthcare service delivery that revolves around the patient.
 
Moving on to research and studies, the conference recommended enhancing research abilities; conducting research and community epidemiological studies on diabetes and obesity in terms of their causes, determinants, management, and treatment. Researches should also key in on the morbidity and economic burdens of diabetes, obesity, and other non-communicable diseases, and how they impact individuals, families, national and regional economies. Lack of information on those matters limits policy makers' ability to take insightful confident decisions on spending priorities. Modern lifestyles and urban culture trends should be studied closely in terms of their link to diabetes and obesity incidence; in order to develop strategies to fight and control those new risks. The conference stressed the importance of supporting scientific research and conducting a Gulf unified research on diabetes, that highlights epidemiology, behavioral factors, the impact of the different programs designed to protect the population health, especially those designed for women, children, youth, and  aging.
  
 On disease surveillance, health and economic burdens, the conference recommended enhancing surveillance systems to monitor the health and economic burdens associated with diabetes, obesity, and other related non-communicable diseases, as well as setting an accurate secure national record of diabetics, a database for diabetes incidence rates, and risk factors that could lead to complications. Such database is to be updated and assessed regularly to help review the current policies and initiatives, and identify the most effective ones. The GCC states should work to establish a diabetes forum to exchange information, best practices, successful and failed national policies and initiatives with one another. The forum is to have a website, and be held annually. The participants have agreed to adopt the proper measures to curb the morbidity burden, achieving the global objectives set by the WHO to control non-communicable diseases, chief among them are diabetes and obesity. They also vowed to achieve the required indices set forth in the Gulf action plan for control and prevention of non-communicable diseases 2014-2025.
      
Additionally, the participants have agreed to urge all concerned countries and entities to actively take part in improving the Gulf joint health work; carry out and achieve the objectives of the Gulf action plan for control and prevention of non-communicable diseases 2014-2025; and carry out the sustainable development plan 2030. The conference stressed the necessity of providing integrated healthcare to patients with diabetes, obesity, and other related non-communicable diseases through integrated national plans and measures to hold back the spread of non-communicable diseases, most notably diabetes, obesity, and improve the quality of life for patients with those diseases.
 
The participants have called upon the member states and organizations to meet annually to exchange experiences, best practices and models to follow; review the progress of the planned activities for healthcare of diabetics and the obese. Furthermore, they advised proceeding with the conference recommendations and reporting them to the Health Ministers' Council for the GCC states. The Director General of the Executive Board of Health Ministers' Council for the GCC states shall circulate those recommendations to the GCC member states, and other participating organizations, such as: the UN, the EU, and the Arab League. He is also tasked with setting national plans to carry out all the recommendations of this conference and the previous ones. 
 
 
 



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