Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) is advising diabetics to take necessary precautions and to consult their physician before deciding to fast during the holy month of Ramadan.

Senior Consultant and Head of HMC’s Endocrinology and Diabetes Division, Dr Mahmoud Ali Zirie, explained that the decision to fast carries an assortment of potential risks and complications for individuals with diabetes. He added that individuals with diabetes who choose to fast during the holy month should obtain a medical assessment and specific advice on medication and dietary adjustments. Dr Zirie said:

Diabetics who choose to fast need to be aware of the potential health risks. They must also be ready to adhere to the recommendations of their healthcare team in order to achieve a safer fasting experience. A medical assessment and educational counseling on physical activity, meal planning, glucose monitoring and dosage and timing of medications must be part of the process of preparing for Ramadan.’

Diabetes mellitus is a medical condition where the body fails to process blood sugar in a normal way. For individuals with diabetes who choose to fast during Ramadan, several topics require special consideration and those with poorly controlled diabetes, elderly patients who require insulin, children, and the acutely ill or frail are generally advised not to fast.

Fasting is also not recommended for pregnant women who need insulin and for breastfeeding mothers, whether they have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. While most Type 2 diabetics are able to fast without complication, Dr. Zirie cautioned that some dietary and medication adjustments are usually required. Dr Zirie said:

Individuals with diabetes, both Type 1 and Type 2, who choose to fast should keep a watchful eye on their health and should monitor their blood glucose regularly and frequently.’

In recent years, HMC has continued to improve the provision of care for people with diabetes in Qatar. National Diabetes Centers have been opened at both Hamad General and Al Wakra Hospitals and provide a range of services from initial screening through to treatment, health education and the provision of medication and equipment.

During the month of Ramadan, HMC is also supporting a phone-based emergency service, which allows any patient with diabetes, their relatives or caregivers, to call and ask for medical advice related to diabetes and fasting. The hotline (55981331) is operational from 8 pm to 11 pm, seven days a week.

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. HMC collaborates 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.

Tips and information about living well with diabetes during Ramadan, and throughout the rest of the year, are also available at diabetes.hamad.qa.