The survey will be the first epidemiological study conducted in the UAE about the symptoms of asthma infections and its rates in the country. It is to be carried out in three phases.
BY PMA RASHEED
16 May 2010, The Gulf Today
IN order to prepare a curative instructional manual for the primary healthcare centres of the UAE, the Ministry of Health (MoH) has started to conduct a nationwide survey to identify epidemiological factors causing asthma among the UAE children.
The survey will be the first epidemiological study conducted in the UAE about the symptoms of asthma infections and its rates in the country. It targets children in the age groups of six to seven years, and 13 to 14 years old, and is to be carried out in three phases. The first phase, which begins this month, will run until November, according to a senior MoH official.
An earlier survey had revealed that the UAE has one of the highest rates of asthma in the world, with 13 per cent diagnosed rates, and that 68 per cent of the asthmatics suffer from day-time symptoms and 59 per cent experience a limitation of activity due to asthma.
Dr Mahmood Fikri, executive director for health policies at the MoH, said that the ministry will prepare instructional manuals for asthma care in the primary health sector in line with the survey to identify the risk factors contributing to the increase of asthmatic patients in the country.
"A medical database will be developed based on collective guidelines to prepare significant conclusions about the causes of the disease and its rates in the UAE," he added.
"The manual will take shape as a significant tool to ensure global standards safety and care for the asthmatic patients and help them to be active partners in the society," pointed out Dr Fikri.
According to him, the manual will encourage doctors and physicians to raise the society's awareness on the effects of asthma. A workshop about the ways of implementing the instructional manuals in public and private healthcare authorities will also be organised.
"The second phase of the survey will run from November to December. The survey questionnaire will be distributed both in Arabic and English languages in order to assist the physicians in understanding and applying unified curative guidelines," he said.
"Meanwhile, the third phase of the survey assesses the successful results of the curative instructional manuals and their role in improving diagnosis and treatment," said Dr Fikri.
He added that a group of specialists will evaluate the results to prepare the asthma curative instructional manual. A comprehensive comparison of the data, and findings of the survey as well as registered infection rates will be announced at the end of the survey.
The MoH has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with pharmaceutical manufacturer, Astrazeneca, to carry out the survey in all the seven emirates.
Dr Ahmad Ibrahim Saif Kalban, CEO of the primary health care sector at the DHA, had earlier said that the impact of asthma, especially on young children, drastically affects their quality of life as many of them cannot even attend school due to chronic asthma.
"Lack of awareness about the condition in the UAE is the key factor in increasing the number of asthmatic patients. Polluted air, persistent dust and other environmental factors dwarf effective and sufficient management of the disease in the country," he pointed out.
"Meanwhile, the bronchiole asthma is mainly caused by hereditary factor. The habit of eating junk food is also a reason for the current levels of increase in asthma," added Dr Kalban.
According to him, asthma can be managed properly and will not affect the patient's quality of life to a large extent, if diagnosed early.
According to the earlier survey, about 56 per cent of asthmatics in the UAE have been reported to be using rescue medication for the disease and 52 per cent reported emergency visits in the UAE.
Across the world, an estimated 300 million people suffer from asthma, with 250,000 deaths attributed to the disease every year.