Diabetics to be given 300,000 glucometers

Mohamed Al-Harbi

Mohamed Al-Harbi

The Ministry of Health is to distribute 300,000 more glucometers to diabetics in the Kingdom, according to a senior health official.

In an interview with Arab News, Muhammad Al-Harbi, director general of Diabetes Centers and Units at the ministry’s General Department, said the ministry has already distributed 500,000 meters during the past 18 months and that the balance would be distributed during the coming 18 months.

He added that the three-year program undertaken by the ministry is aimed at keeping check on the growing epidemic.

He said that 13.6 percent of the population is diabetic, over half of whom are under the age of 50.

Some two million Saudis are afflicted with the disease and another two million are on the threshold of developing diabetes.

“The machines will help diabetic patients monitor their glucose level from the comfort of their homes and reduce their visits to hospitals,” he said, adding that it would reduce crowding at primary health care centers.

Al-Harbi was speaking on the sidelines of the First Scientific Saudi National Diabetes Conference, held in Riyadh on Wednesday. The conference and exhibition was organized by the Saudi Charitable Association of Diabetes (SCAD) in cooperation with the Ministry of Health and private sector companies.

Diabetes is the world’s fastest growing chronic condition, affecting all age groups. There are 20 diabetic centers across the Kingdom, with one in every region.

There is an alarming increase in the incidence of diabetes among children aged 8 to 10 due to poor habits and sedentary lifestyle, indicated Al-Harbi.

“We urge people to consider the risks and take action. Find out your family history, assess your diet, exercise regularly and speak to your doctor if you think you could be at risk of developing this type of diabetes,” he noted.

“The Kingdom has seen an explosion in the number of diabetes cases, with a sizable percentage of prevalence of diabetes,” he cautioned.

Young children are particularly prone to developing diabetes due to lack of exercise, as most kids spend long hours in front of the television and behind computer screens, the official said.

“Lack of exercise and eating fatty food is making our children obese, a major risk factor for the development of diabetes. It is the responsibility of parents to ensure that their children develop healthy habits,” he noted.

“Schools should also place more emphasis on physical education, which is equally as important as other subjects,” he said.

Speaking at the launch of the program, Health Ministry spokesman Khalid Al-Mirghalani said the program would offer special care to diabetics who register with the diabetes center in the Kingdom.

“We will supply the patients with glucometers and we will also give them regular refills when they visit the centers for medical treatment,” he added.

“The Ministry of Health is keen on providing modern scientific methods to build a healthy society in the Kingdom,” he said, recalling that a national strategy was drawn up in 2010 to fight diabetes for the next 10 years in the Kingdom.

Diabetes is a chronic disease caused either by the failure of the pancreas to produce insulin in sufficient quantities or the loss of the body’s ability to use the insulin produced. It is the leading cause of blindness and occurs as a result of long-term accumulated damage to the small blood vessels in the retina.

After living with diabetes for 15 years, two percent of patients become blind and about 10 percent develop severe visual impairment. In addition, 80 percent of diabetes-related deaths occur in low and middle-income countries.


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