Diabetes, a growing concern!

Mr. Abdul Ghafour of Arab News reported on March 15th that 60 million Saudi riyals ($16 million U.S. dollars) were available, at the Prince Fahd bin Salman Charitable Society for the Care of Kidney Patients, to provide free dialysis for those with renal failure.  According to the 2008 annual report by the Saudi Center for Organ Transplantation, the total number of dialysis patients in 2008 was 11,168 patients and the total number of new dialysis patient was 3,350 patients.

The interesting point in the news article was the cause of renal failure.  According to Mr. Abdul Ghafour, the advisor for the charitable society, Prince Abdul Aziz bin Salman, said,

“According to a report issued by the Saudi Organ Transplant Center in 2008, diabetes is the main reason for 36.5 percent of renal failure cases in the Kingdom. It was possible to save 50 percent of them from kidney failure if they had been given intensive treatment against diabetes.”

He continued to say that about 25 percent of the population in Saudi Arabia is suffering from diabetes.  Based on the predicted number of the total Saudi population in 2009, more than 6.3 million people have diabetes in the country.  Unfortunately, I have not been able to find statistics breaking down the prevalence of diabetes into type-I and type-II.  It would be interesting to know those numbers because as I mentioned in a previous post, Overweight and Obesity, Alarming Numbers!, 70% of the Saudi population is overweight.  Put one and one together, we can predict that the prevalence of diabetes would continue to rise, especially type-II diabetes!

Moreover, in addition to Saudi Arabia, the picture for the rest of the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) does not look good either.  According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the following table shows the prevalence of people with diabetes in 2000 and the predicted prevalence in 2030.

Country                                   2000                    2030
Bahrain                                        37,000                   99,000
Kuwait                                         104,000                 319,000
Oman                                           113,000                  343,000
Qatar                                            38,000                   88,000
United Arab Emirates              350,000                 684,000

So why is diabetes a concern? Continue reading

Our YOUTH is paying the price! Do you know what the tobacco industry did?

Nowadays, it is well known that tobacco use, especially smoking, is associated with many chronic diseases.  Before getting into specific statistics and facts about tobacco use, let me shed some light on the efforts of the tobacco industry in the Middle East, especially the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).  The information I found was just overwhelming and disturbing.

The tobacco industry knew very well in order for their market to prosper, they must play the game really well.  Well, it seems like they played it very well.  Their efforts have been continuous since the late 70’s.  They have managed to identify loopholes in the GCC countries, and wasted no time to infiltrate them.  The World Health Organization (WHO) came out with a report of two volumes called the Voice of Truth (VOT), you can download Volume 1 here,  and Volume 2 here.  This report investigated and revealed all the different strategies the tobacco industry was able to play.

Eager to learn more? Continue reading

Looking for Clean Air? You could soon find it in Bahrain!

During my hunt for a topic to write on, I came across this article on the website for Bahrain’s Ministry of Health (MOH).  I thought I was reading the title incorrectly.  The title read,

“Popular café fined 50 dinars for violating the tobacco control bill.”

The article continued to say that Dr. Maryam Athbi Al-Jalahma, Assistant Undersecretary for Primary Care and Public Health, reported that the famous café did not comply with article (4) of the tobacco control bill, which includes banning of indoors’ smoking in enclosed public facilities.  Additionally, the food inspectors who issued the violation also warned the owner of a famous restaurant of closing his business if his employees did not refrain from smoking inside the restaurant.  This owner was warned previously of non-compliance.  I wonder why this restaurant did not get fined!

What does this bill include? Continue reading

Firefighting with a Feminine Touch!

On my facebook account, I saw one of my contacts being tagged in a video of a television interview.  The cutoff title said in Arabic, “Saudi Females working behind…,” and the video thumbnail showed what appeared like a young female wearing the traditional black scarf and abaya (dress cover).  Out of curiosity, I clicked on the video to watch it and I’m glad I did.  The interview was on Al-Aan TV channel with a young Saudi female who was a pioneer in firefighting training, which is a strictly male profession in Saudi Arabia.  This young female is Ms. Ena’am Adnan Al-Abbasi Al-Hashimi.  After graduating from high school, she attended the female security and safety training program at, what seems like a private civil defense foundation.  Ms. Al-Hashimi continued her training and attended several advanced training programs until she became a certified trainer in self-defense and firefighting.

According to an article by Sahar Khan of Al-Madinah newspaper on April 18, 2009, the foundation provides training for females in firefighting, rescue, first-aid, and self-defense.  After basic training, participants can choose to specialize in more specific fields for advanced training.  When the participants graduate, they become qualified to work in the their chosen fields.  According to the article, the foundation created the first qualified team of females in firefighting and evacuation.  Additionally, the foundation has the first team of females qualified in fire source investigation.  The focus of the training is proper reaction in case of an emergency.  My understanding is that these programs are publicly open to all females.

If you’re not from the Saudi society or familiar with it, you might be asking yourself why is this worthy of writing about? Continue reading

Overweight and Obesity, Alarming Numbers!

Mr. Saeed Al-Bahes of Okaz newspaper reported on behalf of Dr. Ja’far Al-Qallaf, board member of the Saudi Diabetes and Endocrine Association in the Eastern Province that over 70% of the Saudi population is suffering from overweight.  Additionally, Ms. Rima Al-Mukhtar of the Arab News newspaper reported that scientific studies in Saudi showed alarming increase in childhood obesity.  Unfortunately, Ms. Al-Mukhtar did not report any of the scientific data from those studies.  I did read, however, a couple of months ago, and I apologize for not finding the source of the information, that childhood obesity was reaching 60% in Saudi.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), data from 2005 on Saudi Arabia showed: Continue reading

Public Health Topics in Saudi Mainstream Media

The major issue about public health topics in the Saudi mainstream media is the absence of dedication.  If you examine most of the popular newspapers in Saudi, such as Okaz, Al-Watan, Al-Riyadh, Al-Jazirah, Arab News, Al-Sharq Al-Awsat and so forth, you would notice that they are organized into sections.  Most of them would have sections such as local news, world news, economy, sports, opinions, culture, and accidents.  What you will not see, however, is a health section.  This is also reflected on their online websites as well.

Therefore, coverage of any public health issue would be scattered between the different sections.  As a result, if one were interested in health topics, he or she would have to go through every page of the newspaper to look for articles.  Other than the fact that it is time consuming to look for health issues this way, it gives you the impression as a reader, no matter what background you have, that health issues are not of high priority to the media.  In my opinion, this is a negative aspect because the public would not be exposed properly to important public health issues.  They have to be, consciously, searching for a specific health topic to find it.  On the other hand, if there were to be a dedicated section for health, readers will automatically be drawn to all the different health topics in one place as they are flipping the pages.  Consequently, newspapers would play a much better job in spreading highly needed awareness of important health issues.

What else? Continue reading

Jinn Possession vs. Mental Health Disorder

In recent years, there has been a hype about jinn possession (المس أو اللبس), the evil eye (الحسد), and black magic (السحر) in many parts of the Muslim world.  If one listens to the symptoms for those affected by the issues above, it will be noticed that many of them are the same as those symptoms for certain mental disorders mentioned in the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, (DSM-IV-TR).

So, how would this affect public health? Continue reading