There is no known cure for diabetes, especially type 2 diabetes and patients who have been detected with diabetes know that they have to live with this condition for life. Efficient management is the only way patients can lead a normal life for a longer time and avoid complications that go with this dreaded disease.

The International Diabetes Federation carried out a survey in 2013 in collaboration with Boehringer Ingelheim and Eli Lilly on the diagnosis and management of diabetes in the Middle East. There are 36.8 million diabetics in the Middle East with Egypt accounting for the highest number followed by Saudi and Kuwait. Healthcare spending on diabetes accounted for over $ 16.8 billion. The survey also found that about 363000 diabetics, of whom 53% were aged less than 60, died due to complications.  This figure could well be on the lower side if there is more emphasis on patient-doctor dialogues during diagnosis and continuing the dialogue as treatment proceeds to help keep the disease under control by modifications in medicine dosages as well as lifestyle changes.

A doctor’s role cannot be overemphasized in advising patients to accept that diabetes will not go away and that proper management will help them lead healthy lives and avoid complications. The survey showed that doctors in Saudi Arabia and UAE report that diagnosis conversations have not been carried forward to the level of interactions to induce sustainable lifestyle changes that would keep diabetes stable in patients. Patients, they noted, started off enthusiastically but reverted to old habits and became irregular in keeping in touch with doctors. The common observation arising from the survey is that patients in the initial stages feel emotionally disturbed and find it hard to accept that they have a fatal disease that necessitates a total lifestyle change to keep it under control.

Managing the condition, showed the survey, depended a great deal on two factors. One is how well the patients adapt to their situation and take a positive decision to manage it with the help of diagnostic consultations with doctors. It is important for patients to follow advice and implement lifestyle changes. It is just as important for medication to be adjusted following frequent testing for it to have the desired effect. The two go hand in hand. Hard-pressed as they are for time, doctors do not follow up with patients if they stop visiting and this is detrimental to the patient’s health. According to panelists of the Arab Health Congress, doctors are concerned about the lack of tools that would help them impress upon patients go in for and sustain lifestyle and behavior changes. Doctors also need to spend more time with patients and develop a working relationship rather than adapt a coldly impersonal style of advice delivery, according to Boehringer Ingelheim Middle East Managing Director Karim Al Alaoui.

The survey hopes to come up with insights that would help doctors provide better support and also come up with ways to enlighten diabetics about the importance of continuing diagnostic consultations to manage the disease.