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Management of diabetes during Ramadan – millions ignore guidelines
June 30, 2014, 2:38 pm

MSD, the second-largest healthcare company in the world, which operates in the UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and Oman as MSD Gulf, said new research reveals that more than 50 million patients with diabetes worldwide fast during Ramadan despite guideline recommendations for the management of diabetes during the Holy Month.

Diabetes experts in the region are now warning against the potential risks patients will be taking, and are advising them to consult their physician on how best to manage their medical requirements during the Holy Month. As part of its focus on supporting the healthcare considerations of local communities, MSD Gulf will launch ‘The Facts About Fasting During Ramadan’ information campaign to help type 2 diabetes patients to plan their dietary and medical calendars with a 'kit' supplied by MSD.

The patient information kit is intended to increase dialogue between patients and doctors. The pack includes a Blood Sugar Tracker to enable patients to record their blood sugar levels ahead of discussions with their physician, as well as a Ramadan calendar for managing daily food and medical intake.

Mazen Altaruti, Managing Director of MSD Gulf, said: “As part of our commitment to the general health and wellbeing of the communities in which we operate, MSD will be working hard to increase awareness of the potential risks that diabetes patients face during Ramadan. Our information kit provides practical advice for type 2 diabetes patients who make the personal decision to fast. In addition to the correct medication, a balanced diet is an important part of diabetes management. Our kit will include diabetes-friendly recipes to encourage healthier eating during Ramadan.”

Diabetes is increasingly regarded as a worldwide epidemic. In 2013 there were 382 million people diagnosed with diabetes, representative of approximately 8.35% of the world’s adult population. Type 2 diabetes accounts for 85-95% of all cases. Over 35 million adults suffer from diabetes in the MENA region. Figure is expected to have risen to one in three. Kuwait experiences over one thousand diabetes-related deaths annually. One in ten adults in the Middle East currently lives with diabetes, and by 2030 that figure is expected to have risen to one in three. Kuwait experiences over one thousand diabetes-related deaths annually.

Elaborating on the subject, Dr. Walid Al Dahi of the Kuwait Diabetes Society said: “Although some patients with advanced diabetes are actually exempt from fasting during Ramadan, many take the personal decision to do so. However, alterations to eating patterns commonly cause problems for type 2 diabetes patients. Potential complications include hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), hyperglycemia (high blood sugar), dehydration and thrombosis. If not treated promptly, low blood sugar can lead to dangerous symptoms such as loss of consciousness, convulsions or seizures. Ramadan is a time when doctors and medical professionals need to be very clear to their patients about exactly how they should be structuring their intake.”

An MSD-sponsored international survey found that 73 percent of physicians had identified cultural and religious factors, such as fasting, which impact the glucose control of type 2 diabetes patients.

In preparation for Ramadan, MSD’s campaign in Kuwait recommends that patients review their treatment plans with medical professionals and take measures to minimize the risks associated with fasting.

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