Prevention key to healthy society |
Khaleej Times - 09 August, 2012
A total of 2,902 deaths were recorded in the emirate last year, over half (1,670) of which could have been avioded, said Dr Omniyat Al Hajri, Director of Public Health and Policy at the Health Authority-Abu Dhabi (HAAD).
“Of these, 581 fatalities occurred outdoors or as a result of road traffic accidents and occupational injuries, which are preventable by applying simple measures,” she stated. Speaking on Wednesday at the launch of the HAAD’s health promotion plan for 2012-2013, Dr Al Hajri stressed the importance of collaboration and partnership with each and every individual and entities in order to prevent the spread of diseases and death.
She commended the great example showed by Shaikha Fatima bint Mubarak, Chairwoman of the General Women’s Union (GWU) and the Family Development Foundation (FDF), who took a personal interest in public health and supported the HAAD health programme this year. Noting the HAAD strategy of awareness, education and health promotion, Said Al Siksek, CEO of the HAAD, underscored the benefits of preventing diseases not only for the economy but for having a “secured and healthy society as a whole”.
“Our programme depends on early detection in order to reach out to individuals who are susceptible of having a disease. We need to detect the disease as early as possible in order to prevent it from spreading while increasing the person’s capability to fight those diseases, starting with screening,” Dr Al Hajri said.
The HAAD has shortlisted five public health priorities it intends to focus on this year. These include cardiovascular disease (CVD) prevention and management; tobacco control; mother, infant and school children’s health; communicable disease prevention and control; and occupational and environmental health. In addition, the health authority will also continue its campaigns on road safety, cancer control and prevention, other chronic conditions including asthma and oral health.
The goal is to reduce the CVD burden by preventing the onset of, and improving control and treatment of risk factors for CVD including obesity, overweight, smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure and blood cholesterol.
The Weqaya (precaution) screening, which was introduced in 2008 for all adult Emiratis to determine their risk for diabetes or CVD, showed that “70 per cent of the UAE nationals screened (185,000 or 97 per cent of the Emirati population) have at least one risk factor for CVD,” said Dr Khaled Aidha Al Jaberi, manager of Non-Communicable Disease at HAAD.
Through its ‘Abu Dhabi says No to Smoking’ campaign, the HAAD aims to reduce the number of smokers and other form of tobacco users. According to Dr Farida Al Hosani, Manager of Communicable Diseases at the HAAD, 19 per cent of people applied for marriage last year were smokers.
“Most of the smokers are males and cigarette smoking is the most common type. Medwakh is the second especially among Emirati men. Although smoking is less common in females, we noticed that around one to two per cent of the female population are smoking shisha or cigarettes,” she pointed out.
Occupational and environmental health
According to Dr Al Hajri, over 70 occupational deaths in the emirate in 2011 were as a result of falling from heights.
HAAD campaign this year, ‘Height Aware’, will focus on occupational risks and hazards including working at height and falling objects. The HAAD will also launch its second wave of ‘Safety-in-the-Heat’ campaign to create awareness about safety measures of working under hot weather conditions.
Breast cancer is one of the main causes of cancer deaths in women in the emirate, thus it is imperative to raise public health awareness about the importance of screening for early detection.
According to Dr Jalaa Taher, head of Cancer Control and Prevention at the authority, breast cancer fatalities in 2010 was 12 per cent. This number was reduced to seven per cent in 2011 as a result of early detection and the screening available for women. In the past four years, late detection of breast cancer has continually declined, from 65 per cent in 2007 to 25 per cent in 2010.