Qatar Diabetes Association (QDA), a member of Qatar Foundation (QF), and Diabetes and Ramadan International Alliance (DAR) organised a symposium entitled ‘Diabetes and Ramadan’ in cooperation with the Qatar Metabolic Institute, as part of QDA’s annual Ramadan and Diabetes Awareness Campaign.

The symposium, held on 30 March at the Wyndham Grand Regency Hotel in Doha, was attended by over 300 doctors, nurses, dietitians and pharmacists working in diabetes clinics at the Primary Health Care Corporation (PHCC), private hospitals, and military and police clinics in Qatar.

The symposium focused on topics including insulin therapy while fasting; the latest technology and medication in the field of diabetes; pregnancy, diabetes and Ramadan; categories of high-risk diabetic patients during Ramadan; and consultation and advice on nutrition and diabetes control during fasting. Additionally, a number of studies and papers on the topic of diabetes and Ramadan were presented in the seminar.

QDA Diabetes and Ramadan Symposium

The symposium was presented by a group of diabetes specialists at Hamad Medical Corporation and the PHCC in collaboration with experts from overseas.

Dr Abdullah Al-Hamaq, Executive Director of Qatar Diabetes Association, stated:

The aim of this annual symposium is to provide healthcare providers with the latest guidelines for diabetes management during the month of Ramadan with a focus on safer methods of treatment during fasting.

The symposium emphasises the importance of educating people with diabetes well in advance of Ramadan to reduce risks or complications during the fasting.’

Dr Al-Hamaq explained that the International Diabetes Federation considers diabetes to be one of the biggest health emergencies of the 21st century worldwide, saying:

This global epidemic affects countries with large Muslim populations, where the prevalence of diabetes is above the global average. The numbers are expected to increase dramatically over the next 25 years.’

Dr Mohammed M Hassanein, President of the Diabetes and Ramadan International Alliance, who participated in the symposium, said:

Fasting during the holy month of Ramadan has a number of physiological effects in both metabolic and endocrine processes and on patients with diabetes. Those effects may be coupled with complications such as severe drop or increase in blood sugar, which may lead to hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia.

Patient education is essential for safe fasting. It is important that doctors, dietitians and nursing staff communicate closely with patients and advise them how to fast safely. According to the IDF-DAR Practical Guidelines we can classify diabetics into three colours according to their ability to fast. These colours are red, orange and green, like traffic signs. The “red” patients should not fast because of the extreme rick to their health. Patients in the “orange” category are advised not to fast due to high risk, while “green” indicates a reduced risk.’

According to Islamic religious teachings, those whose health may be affected by fasting, including patients whose condition is fragile or who have unstable diabetes like Type 1 diabetes, or chronic complications such as kidney failure and macrovascular complications, are not required to do so.

Other people not required to fast are: pregnant woman with diabetes; people undergoing dialysis and who have poor glycaemic control; people who are unaware of the symptoms of hypoglycaemia or who have experienced recurrent hypoglycaemia, ketoacidosis, or hyperosmolar hyperglycaemia coma in the three months before Ramadan; people doing intensive physical work; and elderly patients living alone.