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H.E. UAE Minister of Health opens the 1st Non-Communicable Diseases Congress in the UAE 09 January 2014

On behalf of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, UAE Minister of Finance and Patron of Hamdan Medical Award, H.E. Abdul Rahman Bin Mohamed Al Owais, UAE Minister of Health and chairman of the board of trustees of the Award opened the 1st Non-Communicable Diseases Congress in the UAE at Event Center, Intercontinental Hotel, Dubai Festival City. The conference is held from 9 till 11 January 2014 with the participation of 35 speakers from 11 countries all over the world.

The conference is organized by Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Award for Medical Sciences in cooperation with the UAE Ministry of Health, Dubai Health Authority, Health Authority - Abou Dhabi, Emirates Diabetes Society, Emirates Cardiac Society, Emirates Society of Nephrology and Emirates Respiratory Society, and the Oncology Services, Mafraq Hospital and supported by Majid Al Futtaim Charity Organization.
Following listening to the Quran recitation, H.E. Abdul Rahman Bin Mohamed Al Owais, UAE Minister of Health and chairman of the board of trustees of Hamdan Medical Award delivered the speech of H.H. Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid in which he said: “The importance of your Congress comes out of being a unique scientific event held for the first time in the region to address by research and analysis the ways for preventing the non-communicable diseases and how to avoid their consequent burdens on the individual, family and society”.
“The wise leadership of His Highness Sheikh Kalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the President of the UAE, may Allah protect Him, His brother, H.H Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai, may Allah protect Him, and Their brothers, Their Highnesses, the Supreme Council Members and Rulers of the Emirates, aims at establishing a comprehensive advancement in all areas of science and knowledge through interacting with world cultures and international scientific accomplishments”.
“Therefore, the development and modernization movements adopted by the United Arab Emirates as well as its interest in keeping abreast with all areas of scientific medical development have had a high impact on nationally prioritizing medical research. This has served to enrich the health advancement of the country and upgrade and develop the health care services”.
H.H. Sheikh Hamdan added: “The State exerts continuous efforts to develop all diagnostic and therapeutic services and to benefit from the modern sciences, knowledge and technologies. The operating health sectors pay considerable attention to such aspects by way of holding, sponsoring and promoting scientific and specialized conferences in the field of health which represent good opportunities for exchanging ideas and experiences between the scientists and specialists”.
“The hosting of this Congress in Dubai confirms the cooperation among various medical institutions inside and outside the State in order to keep up with scientific research and medical developments in dealing with non-communicable diseases. This includes reducing the incidence of serious and chronic illnesses such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and other NCDs, hence serving the medical sciences and the society as a whole. Today, a unique group of scientists and specialists are here among us and they will present to us the latest information and modern technologies which are globally available in this field”.
“I appreciate all the efforts exerted towards holding this Congress in the city of Dubai, on the land of the United Arab Emirates. I extend my thanks and express appreciation to the World Health Organization, particularly Dr. Alaa Al Din Al Alwan, Regional Director, World Health Organization’s office for the Eastern Mediterranean, and his team for their active contribution to participate in organizing the present Congress. Many thanks are also extended to all participants for their presence and support to this Congress, the institutions participating in the associated exhibition and everyone contributing and participating in the organization and the success of the events of this Congress. I wish success for all of you”.
Then, a film on burdens of the NCDs on individuals, families and societies was screened and H.E. Dr. Alaa Al Din Al Alwan, Regional Director, WHO’s Regional Office For the Eastern Mediterranean delivered his speech in which he said: “I would like to start by extending my warmest thanks to His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum and Deputy Ruler of Dubai and the Minister of Finance in the United Arab Emirates and to His Excellency Mr. Abdul Rahman bin Mohammed Al Owais the Minister of Health of UAE for hosting this NCD symposium in the UAE”.
“I congratulate our colleagues in the United Arab Emirates on organizing this event.  This is a clear commitment of the UAE government and partners at the national and emirates levels to confront the rising tide of non-communicable diseases and to create the needed national dialogue platforms to agree on a way forward for the prevention and control of NCD in the UAE”.
“We are gathered here to address a global public health issue of critical importance. Non-communicable diseases are not only the dominant causes of deaths globally and in our Region but have profound impact on health systems and on social and economic development”.
“Globally, the four main groups of non-communicable diseases, namely cardiovascular diseases, cancers, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes, account for over 60% of all deaths, with 80% of such deaths occurring in developing regions such as ours. A large portion of deaths due to non-communicable diseases are premature and preventable”.
“In our Region, the burden of non-communicable diseases is already substantial and is projected to show an alarming rise over the coming years. These diseases are already the single largest cause of deaths, accounting for over 55% of all deaths. Over the coming decade, this region will experience the second largest rise among all world regions in the proportion of deaths due to non-communicable diseases.  In the UAE, non-communicable diseases account for 67% of all deaths. Mostly among women and men, respectively, are premature occurring before the age of 60 years. This has profound impact on families, communities and prospects for development”. 
“The rise in non-communicable diseases reflects profound social and economic transitions over the preceding decades with changing lifestyles and increasing risk factors of non-communicable diseases such as physical inactivity, unhealthy diets, and tobacco use and as a result overweight and obesity, diabetes, and hypertension. The UAE is among the 10 countries with the highest prevalence of diabetes in the world. Once diabetes and other non-communicable diseases develop, they consume a substantial proportion of health care resources. With increasing burden, rising costs and higher consumer expectations, the demands on health systems will be unmanageable.  Prevention is the answer”.
“Fortunately we have a clear vision and roadmap on how to move forward to address the NCD epidemic. This is spelled out in the Global Strategy for the Prevention and Control of Non-communicable Diseases of 2000 and the Political Declaration of the High Level Meeting of the United Nations General Assembly on the Prevention and Control of Non-communicable Diseases, held in September 2011. Member States in this region have endorsed a regional framework for action to scale up the implementation of the commitments of the UN Political Declaration. We must build on this political commitment to strengthen action on non-communicable diseases. The regional framework for action prioritizes strategic interventions in four key areas: governance, prevention and reduction of risk factors, surveillance, and health care. Key to the success of NCD prevention and control efforts is the implementation of NCD best buys that are highly cost-effective, practical and implementable in any health system”.
“During this Congress, the speakers and discussions will highlight the important progress that the United Arab Emirates has made in responding to non-communicable diseases.  However, the continued rise in the burden of these diseases and their risk factors calls for strengthening national efforts based on a multisectoral approach and the roadmap outlined in the regional framework for action on non-communicable diseases”.
“The Symposium that started earlier this morning has the key objective of contributing toward this goal. The Symposium will do so through sharing of international experiences and best practices in NCD prevention and control, reviewing the progress and key lessons from existing efforts in the UAE in NCD prevention and control, and facilitating a broad dialogue among key partners about a way forward for scaling up the implementation of the UN Political Declaration and the UAE national NCD strategy through addressing the existing challenges and exploiting emerging opportunities. The Dubai Declaration on the Prevention and Control of Non-communicable Diseases in the UAE represents the commitments of the national partners to strengthening action on non-communicable diseases”.
“As this is the first congress with a broad scope on non-communicable diseases in the UAE, the outcomes of your deliberations will prove crucial to the future of NCD prevention and control efforts in the UAE. I urge you to be visionary and to think about innovative approaches but also to develop concrete and implementable recommendations that can guide immediate action and the way forward.  I assure you that WHO is fully committed to provide the support needed to strengthen NCD prevention and control and to work together with you to improve the health of the people in the UAE”.
On behalf of the higher organizing committee of the conference, Prof. Najib Al Khaja, Secretary General, Hamdan Medial Award and the president of the conference delivered a speech in which he said: “I’m honored to be with you at the opening ceremony of the 1st Non-Communicable Diseases Conference in the United Arab Emirates which is being held under the kind auspices of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, Minister of Finance and Patron of Sheikh Hamdan Award for Medical Sciences with the participation of the World Health Organization represented by its Eastern Mediterranean Regional Office
“The 1st Non-Communicable Diseases Conference is a distinguished scientific event. It is the first Conference in the Middle East countries that discusses the international, regional and domestic strategies for dealing with five chronic diseases of common causative risk factors. Suffering from one of these diseases could increases the potential incidence of the other. These diseases are diabetes, heart disease, cancer, kidney and pulmonary diseases”.
“Moreover, this Congress is one of the fruitful results of the joint cooperation between Hamdan Award for Medical Sciences and many state health institutions which are entrusted to deal with non-communicable chronic diseases. These institutions are the UAE Ministry of Health, Dubai Health Authority (DHA), Health Authority- Abu Dhabi (HAAD), along with four Emirati medical associations namely, Emirates Diabetes Society, Emirates Cardiac Society, Society of Nephrology, Emirates Allergy and Respiratory Society and Oncology Services Department of Mafraq Hospital”.
“The United Arab Emirates owns a distinct infrastructure which has had a great effect on carrying out certain significant achievements in the management of non-communicable chronic diseases. Statistics tell us that, for instance, mortality rate resulting from cardiac incidences is reduced in state hospitals from 30%, as was the case 30 years ago, to 2 – 3%, as it is at present”.
“Nevertheless, these diseases are still the main cause of 67% of the total mortalities in the state. Here, I should indicate that as regards heart attacks we can reduce the rate of their incidence by 70 - 80%, especially for the young, which would lower the incidence of the other non-communicable diseases and reduce the resulting mortality”.
“It is time for our health strategies not to be limited to the development of the diagnostic and therapeutic plans of these diseases but must extend so as to activate the preventive plans for addressing their causes. This shall be accomplished only by uniting the efforts of all the social, economic and health institutions of the state and activating the plans that may alleviate the rate of tobacco consumption, by taking healthy food and practicing physical exercises, particularly by the young generation”.
“Today, through the forum organized by the Hamdan Award for Medical Sciences in cooperation with the World Health Organization, we are seeking to be acquainted with many national plans and international experiences for addressing the non-communicable chronic diseases”.
“The scientific agenda of the Conference, which will extend over the coming two days, contains 6 scientific sessions and 26 lectures along with five workshops about many important issues in this area”.
“Furthermore, on the margin of the conference, an art exhibition will be held, with the support of the Majid Al Futtaim Charity Foundation, to present the artworks of the students of the state. By these artworks, they express their vision about the importance of the prevention of such diseases and the methods for addressing them. The Foundation shall honor the best six artworks in a ceremony that is to be held this evening at 06:00 pm”, Prof. AL Khaja added.
Then, H.E. Abdul Rahman Al Owais toured the accompanying exhibition held for the organizers of the conference including Hamdan Medical Award, UAE Ministry of Health, Dubai and Abou Dhabi Health Authorities and Emirates Medical Association. Then, H.E. opened the art exhibition organized by Majid Al Futtaim Charity Organization including 30 posters by school students about the importance of following a healthy life style to avoid NCDs.
It is worth mentioning that the 1st day of the conference is dedicated to the pre-congress symposium organized by Hamdan Medical Award in collaboration with World Health Organization on the public health aspects of non-communicable diseases. The symposium includes four scientific sessions and 11 lectures and deals with the UAE program to control the spread of NCDs and the ways to be activated on the ground on the light of the WHO's program and the experiences of many countries in that regard.