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Posted On: 24 May 2016 08:54 am
Updated On: 12 November 2020 02:16 pm

International Experts Advance Diabetes Management Strategies to Support a Safer and Healthier Ramadan

Carmen Rusinoiu
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The Diabetes & Ramadan International Alliance in partnership with IDF and Qatar Diabetes Association recently organized the 4th DAR International Alliance congress, with the landmark announcement of the ‘New Guidelines on Diabetes Management during Ramadan’ developed with the support of an unrestricted educational grant from Sanofi. The launch conference brought forth key challenges associated with diabetes management during the holy month, while raising awareness on the need for minimizing health risks through increased education and guidance.

IDF, in collaboration with DAR gathered 31 international experts from across USA, UK, France, Turkey, Sudan, Egypt, South Africa, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, KSA, Kuwait, UAE, Iran, Pakistan and Malaysia to combine their voluntary efforts in creation of the Diabetes Management Guidelines.

“Fasting is not meant to create excessive hardship on an individual according to religious tenets. Many people with diabetes are keen on fasting during Ramadan. Awareness on diabetes management and structured diabetes education is an essential tool for the management of the condition in preparation for the fasting period. Medical professionals, religious leaders and healthcare providers need to work in harmony to ensure a safe and healthy holy month for all”, said Dr. Shaukat Sadikot, President of International Diabetes Federation.

The congress saw participation from more than 500 delegates from across 30 countries, including healthcare professionals, religious leaders and media. They deliberated upon several key topics, including the latest new research in diabetes and Ramadan, epidemiology of diabetes and Ramadan, the physiology of fasting, risk stratification, nutrition advice, medication adjustment and the implementation of recommendations.

“It is important for medical professionals to work very closely with their patients and educate them on the potential risks associated with fasting or feasting during Ramadan. At the congress, we are bringing together important stakeholders including, media, imams and nutritionists along with doctors and nurses, to ensure a high level of knowledge exchange and awareness building. Our aim is to increase safety for people with diabetes during Ramadan. The key is to empower patients, and enable them to take decisions based on the recommendations that are harmonized between religious and medical authorities”, said Dr. Mohamed Hassanein, Chairman of Diabetes & Ramadan International Alliance.

“In Qatar, the Qatar Diabetes Association is endorsing the new guidelines to ensure maximum uptake amongst the healthcare community and people living with the condition. Throughout these guidelines, we aim to ensure that people with diabetes are aided with the best tools to manage their health throughout the holy month of Ramadan,” said Dr.Abdullah Al-Hamaq, Executive Director of the Qatar Diabetes Association – Qatar Foundation.

The updated guidelines are based on learnings from previous years, offering improved management strategies and newer evidence based medicine to help people fast with minimal risk. They will ensure effective communication with, and, education of all those involved, including patients, HCPs, religious leaders, and the wider community. High emphasis has been laid on the importance of individualization within a diabetes management plan. For instance, the Ramadan Nutrition Plan (RNP) aims to provide HCPs with information to help them individualize nutrition for people with diabetes during Ramadan.

“We are grateful for the efforts taken by medical experts in collaboration with religious imams to produce these guidelines for a safe Ramadan for people living with diabetes. Patients need to seek the advice of their treating physicians to assess their ability to fast. They should not place themselves at risk, as the decision to fast or not, should be based on medical advice in addition to the patient’s physical ability”, expressed Professor Magdy Ashour, Academic Advisor of the Mufti of Egypt.

Experts emphasized that the decision to fast with diabetes must be taken while maintaining a balance between the guidelines for religious exemptions and assessment of the risks involved in consultation with health care providers. Following a highly individualized management plan and close follow-up is essential to avoid development of complications.[i] People who wish to partake in fasting during Ramadan must therefore collaborate with their physician to undertake the fast as safely as possible during this holy month.

“In the guidelines, we have classified the condition of patients under three main categories, namely, Red, Amber or Green based on the type of diabetes and its severity. If the patient’s condition is classified as red or amber, then it represents a higher level of complications if he or she decides to fast. However, if the patient’s case is moderate-green, then he or she needs to evaluate the medical advice versus the physical ability and experience of fasting”, said Prof. Adel Al Sayed, Vice Chair, Diabetes and Ramadan International Alliance.

The guidelines will be released across all the countries globally.

“At Sanofi, we are committed to supporting valuable initiatives aimed at improving the lives of people with diabetes, by helping them live well with the condition. We are honored to be a part of this milestone development led by DAR and IDF, towards introducing new and effective measures to ensure a safe and healthy Ramadan. Our endeavor is to help propagate the guidelines globally to achieve far reaching positive outcomes in the coming months”, said Hisham Mahmoud, Head of Medical Affairs at Sanofi Turkey-Middle East Zone.

The guidelines and material will be available online on the IDF and DAR websites

[i]International Diabetes Federation Diabetes Voice – Managing Diabetes during Ramadan by Mahmoud Ashraf Ibrahim