Access to diabetes treatments is access to a better life

I have been busy these days so I’m sorry for being a bit behind on my posts. There is some IBD news that I will share with you but first I wanted to highlight this article that I saw on BI-ME.

Business Intelligence Middle East – – Despite high diabetes prevalence, critical treatments remain inaccessible in Gulf – News, analysis, reports.

Considering the ridiculous rates of diabetes in the Middle East, I felt that the topic of accessibility to proper treatments and medicines was one worth discussing. According to the article ‘there are 6.5 million residents of the GCC suffering with diabetes’. This is a huge number when you consider that there is no cure for the disease and that it is a very burdensome, chronic condition that these people will have to live with, monitor and manage every day of their life.

As new treatments are being developed, tested and put into use around the world, the governing powers whose responsibility it is to make these treatments accessible in this region, need to be prepared for the high demand of the increasingly self-educated diabetes sufferers looking for the most innovative treatment options. Doctors and their institutions also need to push for more education and adequate prescription processes in order to manage the situation. If the lives of 6.5 million people in the GCC are dictated by their diabetes, how accessible these treatments are will have a direct correlation to the growth of an increasingly dangerous gray market which is subject to exploitation of illegal counterfeits. Those living with diabetes will also be more prone to self medicating practices that could make a bad problem exponentially worse.

If you have a story or comment, share it. Debating the issue will likely point to potential solutions.


International Diabetes Federation MENA Member Associations

Since Inspired by Diabetes will be launching again in this region, I thought it might be helpful for all the Middle East and North Africa to know who their regional representative is for their respective countries. If you want to know IDF member associations outside this region, click the IDF’s website.

Afghanistan Diabetes Association
Diabetes Control Center
Maiwand Hospital, Cinema-e-Pamir
Tel +93-75-202-3551

Bahrain Diabetes Asscociation
PO Box 20321
Tel +973-279664
Fax +973-251360

Egyptian Diabetes Association
40 Safia Zaghloul Street
21111 Alexandria
Tel +20-3-5439928
Fax +20-3-5431698

Iraqi Diabetes Association
Al-Yarmook Hospital
Al-Qadsia Province
Tel +964-15425727
Fax +964-15425727

Iranian Diabetes Society
46 Ramin Malakooti Street
Patris Lomumba
14439 Tehran
Islamic Republic of Iran
Tel +98-21-8253113
Fax +98-21-88275274

Jordanian Society for the Care of Diabetes
PO Box 9704
11191 Amman
Tel +962-6-5160207
Fax +962-6-5159807

Kuwait Diabetes Society
PO Box 68039
71961 Kifan
Tel +965-4819838
Fax +965-4819885

Lebanese Diabetes Association
Makassed Center – 4th floor
Mar Elias street
Tel +961-7-300515
Fax +961-7-739424

Libyan Diabetic Association
PO Box 11052
Libyan Arab Jamahiriya
Tel +218-21-4776992
Fax +218-21-3600659

Ligue Marocaine de Lutte contre le Diabète
28 avenue de France, n° 8 Agdal
or: PO Box 6583
10000 Rabat
Tel +212-37-773341
Fax +212-37-773341

Oman Diabetes Society
P.O.Box 3201
111 Al-Khood
Tel +968-24489951
Fax +968-24481699

Diabetic Association of Pakistan
5-E/3, Nazimabad
74600 Karachi
Tel +92-21-6616890
Fax +92-21-6680959

Qatar Diabetes Association
PO Box 752
Al Mumtaza
974 Doha
Tel +974-4447481
Fax +974-4431901

Saudi Diabetes and Endocrine Association
PO Box 1498
31952 Al Khobar
Saudi Arabia
Tel +966-3-8878970, 8876099
Fax +966-3-8878710

Syrian Diabetes Association
PO Box 6858
Syrian Arab Republic
Tel +963-11-2318900
Fax +963-11-2318900

Association Tunisienne des Diabètiques
Tunisian Diabetic Association
Boulevard 9 Avril
Immeuble SNIT – app 5L2
1006 Tunis
Tel +216-71-569096
Fax +216-71-570242

Emirates Diabetes Society
PO Box 6600
UAE Dubai
United Arab Emirates
Tel +97-14-3377377
Fax +97-14-3344082

Angelina Jolie diagnosed with gestational diabetes

Angelina Jolie


According to OK! Middle East, actress and icon Angelina Jolie has developed gestational diabetes, a condition which can occur during pregnancy to women who have previously shown no symptoms of being diabetic.

is a condition in which women without previously diagnosed diabetes exhibit high blood glucose levels during pregnancy. Gestational diabetes affects 3-10% of pregnancies, depending on the population studied.[1] No specific cause has been identified, but it is believed that the hormones produced during pregnancy reduce a woman’s sensitivity to insulin, resulting in high blood sugar levels. 

Gestational diabetes generally has few symptoms and it is most commonly diagnosed by screening during pregnancy. Diagnostic tests detect high levels of glucose in blood samples.

Babies born to mothers with gestational diabetes are at increased risk of complications, primarily growth abnormalities and chemical imbalances such as low blood sugar. Gestational diabetes is a reversible condition and women who have adequate control of glucose levels can effectively decrease the associated risks and give birth to healthy babies.

Women with gestational diabetes are at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes after pregnancy, while their offspring are prone to developing childhood obesity, with type 2 diabetes later in life. Most patients are treated only with diet modification and moderate exercise but some take anti-diabetic drugs, including insulin therapy.

According to Wikipedia, classical risk factors for developing gestational diabetes are the following:

In addition to this, statistics show a double risk of GDM in smokers[9] Polycystic ovarian syndrome is also a risk factor.[7] Some studies have looked at more controversial potential risk factors, such as short stature.[10]

Frequently women with gestational diabetes exhibit no symptoms (which is an argument in favour of screening during pregnancy). However, possible symptoms include increased thirst, increased urination, fatigue, nausea and vomiting, bladder infection, yeast infections and blurred vision.


A monster let loose in the Middle East to treat diabetics

Gila Monster

Ok well it isn’t a monster, but a new treatment derived from the venom of a Gila Monster, a large poisonous lizard, is now available in the UAE, Qatar and Kuwait. It is really quite interesting because the treatment, Byetta, has been available in the West for a long time now and it has already received rave reviews from people suffering from Type 2 diabetes.  It has only been released just recently in this region, which is a blessing given the high rates we’re seeing.

Byetta (Exenatide), mimics a hormone in the body that promotes the production of insulin and helps regulate blood sugars. It does so without the usual highs and lows you get from insulin. There is also a real benefit of weight-loss associated with Byetta, which is great because Type-2 diabetes go hand in hand. Here is an article from Gulf News on Byetta.

Artificial venom aids fight against diabetes in UAE

02/20/2008 01:12 AM | By Dina El Shammaa, Staff ReporterAbu Dhabi: A lizard’s venom helped to give birth to a new Type 2 diabetes drug, which is now available in the UAE.

The drug, Exenatide (Byetta), is an artificial version of the venom found in the Gila Monster (Heloderma suspectum).

The saliva of the two-feet long pink and black lizard, native to the US, contains a chemical exendin-4, similar to a human hormone to help regulate blood sugar.

Byetta has proven effective in the control of Type 2 diabetes in humans.

Scientists from drug companies Eli Lilly and Amylin Pharmaceuticals worked together to develop Exenatide, an artificial version of exendin-4 that can be injected into patients and stimulates the pancreas to produce more insulin in response to raised blood sugar. It also influences digestion and appetite.

A significant effect of the drug is weight loss, which is a major benefit for Type 2 diabetes patients, who are often overweight.

It helps with glucose (blood sugar) management in several ways: It signals the pancreas to create additional insulin when glucose levels are too high; it regulates the liver so that it doesn’t produce unneeded glucose; and helps slow the rate of sugar entering the bloodstream.

According to Dr Eisa Al Mansouri, Director of the Drug Control Department, Ministry of Health, the combination of blood sugar regulation and weight loss give Byetta an additional punch in the battle against diabetes.

“Our aim is to make available the best treatments for patients in the UAE. We give high importance to all that relates to the diabetes field, as we know that diabetes is one of the major conditions threatening our community. Byetta is a new class of treatment for diabetes. We are one of the first countries in the Middle East to make Byetta available,” said Al Mansouri

Byetta has been available in the US since 2005. It is now offered in more than 23 countries and used by more than 700,000 diabetes patients worldwide.

Celebrities with Diabetes

Diabetes is a disease that can affect anyone. Whether you are born with Type 1 or have acquired Type 2, the truth is that people from all across the planet – despite wealth, race, age, sex or geographic location – have the disease. One way to really raise awareness of how diabetes can touch us all is to take a look at celebrities and famous people who have the disease. By realizing that even the most successful and the most popular people on the planet can live with the disease, people can be inspired. Diabetes does not have to slow them down.

There are some really great sites out there, like, which have compiled lists of famous people, past and present, with diabetes. Some examples include:

Halle Berry – Actress (Monster’s Ball, X-Men, Die Another Day)

James Brown – ‘The Godfather of Soul’

Johnny Cash – ‘The Man in Black’

Dick Clark – Entertainer, television producer

Miles Davis – Jazz Musician

Aretha Franklin – ‘The Queen of Soul’

Ernest Hemingway – Author (For Whom the Bell Tolls; A Farewell to Arms; The Sun Also Rises)

Rick James – Singer (“Super Freak” Funk Legend)

Nick Jonas – The Jonas Brothers Larry King – Talk show host

Jerry Lewis – Comedian

Anne Rice – Author (Interview With a Vampire)

H. G. Wells – Author (War of the Worlds; The Time Machine; The Invisible Man) founded the British Diabetic Association

Check out dLife’s list for a lot more names.

What is seriously lacking, however, is a list of celebrities from the Arab world, celebrities that people from the Middle East can connect with and can be inspired by. I can only find a few:

President Hafez al-Assad– President Syria

King Fahd – King of Saudi Arabia

Anwar Sadat – President of Egypt

Gamal Abdel-Nasser – Former Leader of Egypt


So if you can think of any others, singers, artists, movie stars from the Middle East, I will gladly add them to the list.

New Years: a resolution

With the New Year approaching, I think we should all take a moment to consider how we might resolve to improve our health. There are many steps we can take to lead healthier lifestyles, and it is especially easy to make changes in our lives that will help to prevent or manage diabetes. I’m compiling a list of New Years resolutions. Feel free to help me out by suggesting your own.

1) Get outside! – Go for a walk, hike, play a sport, go swimming, do some gardening, go to a park, take the stairs, just be more active.
2) Eat better! – Stop eating starchy foods, junk food and foods with high fat content. Eat more vegitables, fibre, fish, fruits and whole grains. Make a habit of cooking at home.
3) Exercise! – In addition to being more active, participate in regular physical exercise whether that means going to the gym, running, playing a sport, cycling or beach volleyball.
4) Drink more water! – Put down the soda, drink water.
5) Laugh! – See my previous post about humour and the positive health benefits. Having fun and laughing shouldn’t be something we need to resolve to do… a lot of people simply don’t laugh enough.
6) Sleep better – Notice how I didn’t say ‘sleep more’, that’s because it is more important to have a consistent sleep routine with few nightly interruptions.
7) Quit smoking – Smoking is bad in so many ways but it increases the risk of diabetes and in turn the risk of heart attack and stroke.
8) Relax – Take some time for yourself and enjoy life. Stress raises blood pressure and can have serious negative affects on a person’s health.

These are going to be my resolutions this year. What healthy life changes are you making for your New Year’s resolution?

The serious side of humour

Laughter, they say, is the best medicine… I’m starting to think that there is a lot of truth to this popular statement. Researchers for years have been lauding the benefits of humour and its healing abilities, both physical and psychological. Laughter, studies have shown, lowers your blood pressure and helps your heart beat more smoothly. It relieves pain and reduces inflammation. It helps your immune system fight germs but leave your healthy tissue alone. Not to mention it brightens your mood and the moods of everyone in ear shot.  For people living with diabetes, laughter has a lot of positive benefits.

What’s funny about having diabetes? While diabetes is a serious condition, psychologists will tell you that humour is a great way to put it all into perspective and relieve stress related to the disease. In addition to that, studies show that laughing lowers your levels of the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline. Cortisol increases insulin resistance, while adrenaline tells your liver to pump more glucose into your blood. This is how laughter helps lower blood glucose and keep it down for quite a while.  Theresa Garnero, a healthcare worker and cartoonist described the benefits of humour on

  • Enhances communication – A little humor helps to break down awkward moments.
  • Allows for expression of anger – Language was invented in order for people to communicate, whereas humor was invented in order to complain. Dealing with a chronic disease can trigger anger and humor is a wonderful way to help process the emotions.
  • Benefits health –  Laughing increases endorphins, decreases blood pressure, decreases pain, and decreases anxiety.
  • Reduces stress – Having diabetes is stressful and humor can help to relieve this burden.
  • Promotes learning – Turn the “ha, ha” into an “aha” moment. The laugh-learn connection is well documented in the literature.
  • Lowers blood glucose (sugar) – A research study from Japan showed that those who watched a brief comedy show after eating had lower glucose values that those who did not see the program.

Researchers are now saying laughter can bring balance to all the components of the immune system, which helps us fight off diseases. Laughter reduces levels of certain stress hormones. In doing this, it provides a safety valve that shuts off the flow of stress hormones and the fight-or-flight compounds that swing into action in our bodies when we experience stress, anger or hostility. These stress hormones suppress the immune system and raise blood pressure. When we are laughing, natural killer cells that destroy tumours and viruses increase, as do disease-fighting proteins and cells that help in immune response.So get laughing!! One great site I found has been LOL Diabetes, a blog where users can post funny stories, pics and comments to help those diagnosed with diabetes cope with the difficulties of living with the disease and to boost the body’s ability to stabilize blood sugars and reduce cardiovascular complications often associated with diabetes. Plus it’s fun!