By Shahd Alhamdan
JEDDAH — More than 22,000 people die in the Kingdom annually because of diabetes-related complications, according to researchers.
Studies show that there are over 3.8 million people who are diabetic in Saudi Arabia. This was revealed at a workshop
titled “Diabetics Need Family Support” held at Park Hayat Hotel in Jeddah recently.
During the workshop experts discussed the importance of psychological and moral support by parents and family members to the diabetes patients, reasons behind the spread of diabetes in the Kingdom, healthy nutrition and the economic burden of diabetes in Saudi Arabia, among other topics.
The workshop was one of Al-Nahdi Medical Company’s social responsibility initiatives to enhance the awareness of society about diabetes.
Consultant and Head of Endocrinology and Diabetes Unit in King Fahd Hospital Dr. Abdulwahab Bawahab said there are around 382 million people with diabetes globally, according to a published research in 2013. He said by 2035, this number is expected to reach 592 million people.
“Diabetes is a big problem, it is increasing and the cost of treatment to society is heavy and expensive. A recent study showed that the number of diabetics around the world has increase to around 415 million by 2015 and the number is likely to increase by 2040 to 642 million,” he said.
Bawahab said 80 percent of the total number of people with diabetes live in low- and middle-income countries.
“When a child becomes diabetic, the whole family becomes diabetic since the routine should change and the child’s food habits will be different,” said Dr. Abdulaziz Al-Toweim, pediatric endocrinologist at the National Guard Hospital in Jeddah.
He said teachers in schools should be informed about diabetic children and glucagon injections should be available in schools. When the sugar in a child’s blood falls to dangerous levels, providing him or her with fruit juice would not be enough and calling parents to take the child home to give treatment will cause to lose valuable time, the doctor warned.
Al-Toweim said when weird behavior was noticed in children with diabetes, they should be given food containing sugar, such as dates.
Another idea broached at the workshop was organizing summer camps for children with diabetes.