How Saudi Arabia is making strides in diabetes prevention
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Insights: How Saudi Arabia is making strides in diabetes control and prevention

Insights: How Saudi Arabia is making strides in diabetes control and prevention

There are an estimated 4.2 million patients suffering from diabetes in Saudi Arabia, out of which 1.8 million are undiagnosed

Niven Al-Khoury on diabetes management strategies to be effective

How do we prevent diabetes before it starts and create a better future for our children?

That’s a question governments and healthcare stakeholders everywhere have been grappling with since the lifestyle disease emerged as a major public health concern for countries around the world, including Saudi Arabia, where the rate of prevalence is 18.7 per cent in the adult population, driven by a combination of factors including obesity, sedentary urban lifestyles, and lack of physical activity.

There are an estimated 4.2 million patients suffering from the condition in the country, out of which 1.8 million are undiagnosed. This brings significant social, economic and health challenges.

Studies have shown there is a strong link between diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, which are a group of disorders of the heart and blood vessels, including coronary heart diseases.

These disorders can be prevented if diabetes is under better control. But, for diabetes management strategies to be effective, a holistic approach is required, one where innovative medicines and individualised care solutions are complemented by educational campaigns and collaborative partnerships between the public and private sectors to spread awareness among different sections of society.

Encouragingly, we are already seeing this approach in play in the kingdom, with the pharmaceutical industry, aligned with the country’s Vision 2030 healthcare ambitions, bringing their global expertise and know-how to the table to help deliver best-in-class therapies and solutions to transform care and outcomes for patients.

The digitalisation of diabetes care

At the same time, there is increased emphasis being laid on digitalisation of the care involved. Digital solutions can transform how we discover, develop and deliver diabetes treatments through novel data insights and accelerated approaches. By embracing such solutions more extensively, we can provide much-needed support for people living with diabetes, improving the quality and continuity of care.

From smart insulin pens to digital titration solutions, patients today have access to a range of cutting-edge tools that help them meet their routine needs. And it’s not just the patients who stand to benefit from the digital transformation in diabetes care.

These smart solutions also make life easier for healthcare professionals, allowing them to gain a more comprehensive view of patients to read trends and patterns and work remotely with patients to make better medical decisions and achieve better control levels.

Thus, by building connected ecosystems that combine therapeutic options with smart devices and services, we now have a credible pathway to improve outcomes for people with diabetes, empowering them to live the life they want with better care at a reduced cost.

Beyond placing a strong emphasis on research and development and digital innovation, there is an urgent need for sustained efforts in promoting diabetes awareness and improving patient and physician education to amplify the message of diabetes control and management.

Public-private partnerships have a vital role to play here, including in promoting diabetes education and healthy lifestyles in the school environment to help lay the foundations for a healthier tomorrow for our children.

Building local capacity to leverage the expertise and resources of private healthcare and pharma players, including in promoting diabetes education and healthy lifestyles in schools, can prove crucial to ensuring a healthy and prosperous tomorrow.

In another encouraging sign, efforts are being sped up to capture the full spectrum of ‘Real-World Evidence’ to generate local data to confirm the effectiveness and safety of diabetes treatments and close the gaps in the management of the disease.

Last year marked a turning point in this regard when health authorities in Saudi Arabia announced a collaborative initiative to establish a comprehensive diabetes research network in the country to generate disease local data that could serve as a guide to tailor solutions and strategies as per local needs.

Taken together, these initiatives and collaborations represent a step forward towards achieving the goals outlined in the Saudi Vision 2030 strategic plan.

It’s time for all stakeholders to redouble efforts and pull together towards our shared goal of improving diabetes control and prevention in Saudi Arabia and contributing to achieving the kingdom’s healthcare ambitions.

Read: Two NHS brands from Mubadala Health’s network partner to deliver diabetes care in Abu Dhabi

Niven Al-Khoury is general manager for General Medicines, Saudi Arabia and Gulf Countries at Sanofi.

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