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Oman is ranked ninth among countries with highest prevalence of diabetes in the world. Approximately 12.3 per cent of Oman’s population is living with diabetes and the total number of registered diabetes patients in 0man as of 2010 is 66,702. 

In Muscat city alone, 17.4 per cent of the population has diabetes, a much higher figure than the rest of the country. These figures indicate that the prevalence of diabetes mellitus in Oman is increasing. 

These alarming figures need attention and as part of an awareness initiative, Landmark Group, the region’s leading retail and hospitality conglomerate, under the patronage of the Ministry of Health and Oman Diabetes Association, will be launching the second edition of its ‘Beat Diabetes’ campaign this month. 

Apart from an awareness walkathon to be held on November 25 at Centrepoint in Ruwi, the group will conduct free blood glucose tests, awareness campaigns in Muscat schools, and will also hold a two-day awareness drive at Centrepoint outlets in Sohar and Salalah. There are also plans to visit three labour camps in Muscat between November and January 12. 

Stressing that awareness is the first step in the battle against diabetes, Dr Sulaiman Zahar Al Shereiqi, in-charge of the national non-communicable diseases (screening programme), Ministry of Health (MoH) stated: “Diabetes is growing at an alarming rate and there is a significant lack of knowledge about the condition. Living with diabetes is a daily battle that constantly needs individuals to maintain and monitor 
their condition.” 

Dr Shereiqi said though the MoH figure stands at 66,702, the registered number of patients may only represent about half of the actual number of Omanis having diabetes. To counter the problem of ‘under-diagnosis’, Oman has implemented a national non-communicable diseases screening programme since 2007. The programme is providing a screening service for all Omanis aged 40 years and above. 

The main objectives of this programme are early detection of non-communicable diseases (NCD) so as to initiate early treatment and delay or prevent complications; early detection and intervention of pre-NCD to delay or prevent NCD; early detection and intervention of NCD risk factors example; obesity, smoking, physical inactivity, overuse of nephro toxic drugs and unhealthy diet; and to educate and promote good health. 

Ahmed Al Kharousi of Oman Diabetes Association has called upon the citizens to adopt a healthy lifestyle and gave details of the activities of the association. He explained that the diabetes epidemic must be curtailed so as to ease the social and financial burdens on the society. 

“Health care professionals in the region have been doing a commendable job in putting together information and communication material for diabetes awareness, prevention and healthy living. 

“We need to continue to keep up the momentum. We believe that education will enhance the empowerment of patients and relatives, for a better quality of life,” he said. 

Talking of Landmark’s ‘Beat Diabetes’ campaign, Clive Freeman, general manager, Landmark Group said, “The Landmark Group through its vast retail network will strive to ensure that necessary information about diabetes is communicated to the right audience with the help of these partners.” 

‘Beat Diabetes’ campaign is Landmark’s on-going corporate social responsibility (CSR) health initiative and was launched in 2010 in Oman. 

Freeman said the 2010 walkathon in Oman witnessed over 3,000 participants. 

“This year again, the awareness walkathon will be held on November 25. We expect more people to participate. In order to mitigate risks caused by late diagnosis of the condition, we will set up a booth to conduct free blood glucose tests for the community during the walkathon,” he said. 

In 2011, the Landmark Group partnered with the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), becoming the organisation’s first retail corporate supporting partner and non pharmaceutical partner. 

The walkathon this year will have a longer route — 3km, starting from Centrepoint in Ruwi. The group will have more blood test counters at the venue. 

Last year, around 2,700 people took the tests and 250 were identified to be diabetic. A free blood test camp is also planned at Centre Point in Al Khuwair in November. 

Hayyan Al Lawati, business development manager, Al Habib & Co, urged people to be a part of the walkathon to help build up on last year’s success and spread awareness about diabetes. 

Laxmikant Gupta, DGM, Landmark Group and Naresh Sharma, DGM, Landmark Group also attended the press event where the details were announced.

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