Health alert over lifestyle in GCC
Manama, December 26, 2011
Bahrain and the region could face an increase in the spread of cardiovascular diseases and diabetes, if immediate measures are not taken, officials said.
The warning was voiced by Bahraini health officials and their GCC counterparts at the opening of a three-day meeting of the Gulf Committee for Combating Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs) held at the K Hotel, Juffair.
The meeting has gathered delegates from GCC health ministries and health educators and aims to discuss proposed indicators to tackle the spread of NCDs as part of a plan to draw up a strategy to reduce the diseases in the GCC by 2025.
"Twenty-seven per cent of deaths in the region are because of cardiovascular diseases," said World Health Organisation (WHO) NCD regional adviser Dr Ibtihal Fadhil Al Reefy.
She told our sister publication, the Gulf Daily News, on the sidelines of the event that diabetes is another major disease affecting the GCC.
"According to figures of the International Diabetes Federation, these two diseases have the highest prevalence in the GCC countries."
Dr Al Reefy said the region needs to immediately address common risk factors that trigger NCDs, including the lack of physical activity resulting in obesity, smoking and unhealthy diet.
"During this meeting, we will discuss the tools needed to deal with NCDs and make Gulf countries accountable for their action. The delegates would also review their plans for proposed indicators to reduce the spread of NCDs by 2025."
The main NCDs according to international health protocol are cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancer and respiratory ailments, Health Ministry assistant under-secretary for primary care and public health Dr Mariam Al Jalahma.
"This meeting will help us to work on a unified plan for GCC countries to deal with these diseases," said Dr Al Jalahma. "Health ministries in the GCC countries proposed a plan earlier this year to work as part of WHO's global framework for monitoring NCDs."
The meeting will end tomorrow and is being held under the patronage of Human Rights and Social Development Minister and acting Health Minister Dr Fatima Al Balooshi.
Speeches were delivered by Health Ministry Under-Secretary Dr Aisha Mubarak Bu-Onq and GCC Health Ministers Council executive board director-general Dr Tawfiq bin Ahmed Khoja.
A Press conference was held following the opening ceremony, where Mr Khoja urged other ministries, organisations and top stakeholders in the region to join them in tackling these diseases.
"We need to prepare a roadmap in this meeting to tackle non-communicable diseases in the GCC countries and approve indicators along with monitoring activities," said Khoja. "In another meeting, we will decide upon the budget required to achieve these goals." – TradeArabia News Service