Hamad General Hospital (HGH) and Al Wakra Hospital (AWH), members of Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC), recently launched a series of lectures aimed at raising public awareness of diabetes mellitus and specifically safe fasting during the holy month of Ramadan.

The lectures, which are presented in both Arabic and English, focused on providing patients with diabetes expert advice about precautions to observe while fasting and how to ensure safe medication intake during Ramadan.

The inaugural lecture in the series was presented at AWH on 6 May 2015. Similar lectures will be held every Wednesday throughout this month. The two-hour lectures are led by four health educators and three senior consultant endocrinologists. A number of patients aged between 30 and 70 years attended the sessions held earlier this month.

Senior Consultant Endocrinology/Diabetes and Head of the National Diabetes Center at AWH, Dr Ibrahim Al Tereky, said:

This series demonstrates HMC’s commitment to providing the safest, most effective and most compassionate care to patients. The lectures are aimed at educating diabetics on how to fast safely and avoid any health complications. Delivering such health awareness activities prior to the holy month of Ramadan can significantly decrease the number of cases with diabetic complications that we see here at HMC.’

Dr Al Tereky advised individuals with type 1 diabetes, especially those with cardiac and kidney conditions, as well as pregnant women with diabetes, to not fast. He explained that this category of patients is at high risk of developing severe complications if they fast. He said type 2 diabetics can fast while taking some special precautions, such as consulting their physicians before the start of Ramadan to learn how to maintain healthy blood sugar levels and to review their medication regimen, including doses and their medication schedule. He suggested:

It is recommended for any type 2 diabetic who wishes to fast to delay Suhoor (the pre-dawn meal‎) until the last possible time and to consume plenty of water between Iftar (breaking fast at sunset) and Suhoor to avoid dehydration.’

Al Tereky also stressed the importance of monitoring blood glucose levels regularly during the fast by making several blood checks a day, especially in the first days of Ramadan. He advised patients to avoid sleeping during the last hours before Iftar. Al Tereky warned patients against doing physical exercises during fasting hours and suggested delaying exercises until night time in order to avoid hypoglycemia (lowering of blood glucose levels).

According to the Director of Diabetes Education at HGH’s National Diabetes Center, Manal Al Musallam, the center is delivering the series of awareness lectures to discuss healthy fasting practices for diabetics and to dispel common misconceptions many people have about fasting. The first lecture at HGH’s National Diabetes Center was held on 19 May and was led by a team consisting of a diabetologist, a health educator and a dietitian, who were available to answer patients’ questions.

The lectures were followed by informative competitions for the attendees to evaluate how they benefited from the information provided during the lectures. A number of gifts, including iPads and glucometer devices, were given to the winners. Further lectures are scheduled for every Tuesday until the beginning of Ramadan.

HMC has been the principal public healthcare provider in the state of Qatar for over three decades. HMC manages eight hospitals, incorporating five specialist hospitals and three community hospitals. HMC also manages the National Ambulance Service as well as home and residential care, all accredited by Joint Commission International. HMC is leading the development of the region’s first academic health system and is committed to building a legacy of healthcare expertise in Qatar. They collaborate with partners who are key experts in Qatar and beyond, including Weill Cornell Medical College-Qatar, the Institute for Healthcare Improvement and Partners Healthcare, Boston.