x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

New guidelines for treatment

New guidelines for treating anaemia and asthma, following an increase in the number of cases, will be in place by the end of the year.

ABU DHABI // New guidelines for treating anaemia and asthma, following an increase in the number of cases, will be in place by the end of the year. The Ministry of Health (MoH) says it is determined to ensure treatment meets international standards. "According to our strategy, in 2008 we worked on hypertension and diabetes, but 2009 is for bronchial asthma and anaemia," said Dr Muna al Kuwari, director of primary health care at the ministry.

The treatment of hypertension was discussed by medical professionals last month. Key personnel were invited to learn the new treatment guidelines, with plans for them to pass on the information to their own hospitals and medical clinics. "We are educating the doctors about the disease, and even health providers and educators, according to their speciality," Dr al Kuwari said. Now bronchial asthma is to be given the same degree of attention, due in part to the large numbers seeking treatment.

The ministry has carried out a study into the rates of the disease in Sharjah, and the results are likely to be released along with the new treatment guidelines. Anaemia is also a concern because of the high rate of genetic blood disorders in the local population. "We have patients suffering from thalassaemia and sickle-cell disease that we need to treat. We want to update everything so we have to look at every category of disease," Dr al Kuwari said.

Dr Hasrat Parkar, head of family medicine at Tawam Hospital in Al Ain, welcomed the move by the ministry, which oversees health care in the northern Emirates, to standardise treatment. "Having the guidelines is good provided they are backed up by the appropriate diagnostic treatment," he said, agreeing that both asthma and anaemia were prevalent in the community. The rates of bronchial asthma have increased because it has become easier to diagnose and people are being exposed to more allergens.

"Part of the reason is environmental - the last few days have been particularly dusty and sandy. Even if the instances were the same as before now we are better at diagnosing it. We are better about thinking about what could be asthma." Anaemia can often go unnoticed. The symptoms are a feeling of lethargy and a pallid complexion but in severe cases the condition can lead to heart failure. It is found in people with a lack of iron in their diet, and also in those with thalassaemia traits.

"Anaemia is common around the world but it is particularly common in the UAE," Dr Parkar said. amcmeans@thenational.ae