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Qatar transforming diabetes care with unique programme

Qatar transforming diabetes care with unique programme

AFP
Doha
In an unremarkable office in a Doha hospital, a study is taking place which could transform the way Qatar deals with one of its most persistent health issues — diabetes.
A small team led by professor Khalid Hussain has since last year been entering youngsters aged up to 18 with diabetes into a nationwide database, something he claims is unique in the region and possibly the world.
“What we want to do is recruit every child with diabetes in Qatar into our research project,” says Hussain, who runs the project out of his office in the capital’s Sidra medical complex.
The aim? To work out how many children in Qatar are suffering from the chronic disease, to pinpoint the type, and to tweak treatment accordingly.
“By understanding the different types... we actually make a difference in the lives of patients,” adds Hussain.
A 2017 WHO study estimated 72 percent of Qatari adults are currently overweight and 34 per cent are living with obesity.
Professor Hussain’s study hopes to determine the overall rates of diabetes in Qatar, and to establish the breakdown between types 1 and 2.
With type 1, generally diagnosed during childhood, the body’s immune system destroys cells in the pancreas which produce insulin, the hormone that controls blood sugar levels.
In type 2, caused by lifestyle and genetics, the body makes some insulin but not enough.
This second form of the disease correlates highly with obesity and can, over time, lead to blindness, kidney damage, and heart disease or stroke.
Researchers at Weill Cornell Medicine predict type 2 diabetes in Qatar will jump from around 17 percent of the population now to around 24 percent by 2050.
“Hopefully we will know by the middle of 2019 how many children in this country have diabetes and what types they have,” Hussain says.