Dubai, U.A.E, 03 June 2015 – MSD, known as Merck (NYSE: MRK) in the United States and Canada, today launched new interactive and educational resources to help people with type 2 diabetes in the Middle East who choose to fast during Ramadan. The Facts About Fasting During Ramadan program recognizes the potential challenges of fasting when you have diabetes, including variations in blood sugar levels as a result of changes in eating patterns.[i]The program encourages people to be prepared by visiting their healthcare professional up to three months in advance of Ramadan1,[ii] to establish a diabetes management plan they can follow to control their blood sugar levels during the holy month.
According to guidelines from religious and medical organizations, most people with diabetes are exempt from religious fasting because of the increased risks of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), high blood sugar (hyperglycemia), thrombosis and dehydration.1However, more than 50 million people with diabetes worldwide make the personal decision to fast during Ramadan.1This number is expected to rise with the increasing prevalence of diabetes in the Middle East. Recent figures from the International Diabetes Federation state that an estimated 34.6 million people in the MENA region have diabetes, which is projected to increase to 67.9 million by 2035.[iii]
Decreased food intake, as well as certain diabetes medications, are risk factors for developing hypoglycemia.1 If left untreated, hypoglycemia can lead to serious medical problems including loss of consciousness, convulsions or seizures requiring emergency treatment.[iv]Another potential risk for people with type 2 diabetes who fast is hyperglycemia, which occurs when there is too much sugar in the blood and can be caused by an increase in food or sugar intake, or by an excessive reduction in dosages of diabetes medications.1,[v]
“DAR “Diabetes And Ramadan” conference took place in Dubai on April 17th where a lot of topics related to management of Diabetes in Ramadan were discussed” Said Dr. Mohamed Hassanein, Consultant Endocrinologist, Dubai Hospital, Dubai Health Authority and Chair of Diabetes and Ramadan International Alliance.
“According to the latest International Diabetes Federation Atlas in 2013, 10% of the adult population in UAE have diabetes. The risk of hypoglycemia is higher during the month of Ramadan compared to other months of the year. If you choose to fast, It is a good idea to speak with your healthcare professional ahead of Ramadan, since you may need to consider making adjustments to your eating habits and diabetes management plan in order to effectively control your blood sugar levels and reduce the risks associated with fasting” added Dr. Hassanein.
In 2015, The Facts About Fasting During Ramadan program has unveiled new resources, including a series of short, animated videos that map the journey of a person with type 2 diabetes who chooses to fast. The educational series depicts a patient’s experience, starting from when they begin preparing for Ramadan through their recommended follow-up visit with their healthcare professional. An updated patient information kit has also been designed to help people with type 2 diabetes gain a better understanding of the steps they need to take if they choose to fast. To encourage healthier eating during Ramadan and throughout the year, the program also features new diabetes-friendly recipes from various regions of the world that can be shared with family and friends.
MSD UAE is launching a Ramadan campaign by providing Ramadan patient education material to Health Care Professionals to be handed to their patients when they come to the clinic before or during Ramadan. MSD UAE has also conducted a series of lectures about Diabetes in Ramadan for Health Care Professionals.
“One in nine adults in the Middle East currently live with diabetes, and by 2030 this number is expected to have risen to one in three[vi],” said Samer ElAli, Executive Medical Director, Middle East, Africa & Saudi, MSD. “Diabetes is one of the most serious conditions affecting people’s health and productivity- but at the same time, using the right tools, strategies, patients can stay ahead of it.”