Urbanization and the rapid growth of a diverse and multi-cultural population have led to significant changes in lifestyle patterns and behaviors, contributing to the increasing prevalence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in the United Arab Emirates. UAE health data from 2010 estimates that 20 percent of expatriates and 25 percent of Emiratis have diabetes, and 75 percent do not have good control of their diabetes. The financial burden of this diabetes epidemic cost the country and its citizens and expatriates $657 million in 2010 with a forecast of increase to $1.04 billion by 2020.

In 2016, Project HOPE in partnership with AstraZeneca launched the Diabetes Empowerment and Education Program (DEEP). The program aims to improve the well-being of people in the United Arab Emirates living with or at risk of developing diabetes by:

  • Improving patient diabetes self-management through training of Health Care Workers, who in turn train and support diabetes patients.
  • Decreasing adverse outcomes of diabetes patients during Ramadan
  • Increasing access to prevention services

The program introduced the innovative diabetes self-management education curriculum, “5 Steps to Self-Care” to the United Arab Emirates. Originally developed by Project HOPE in Mexico, and now culturally adapted for the Gulf Region including specialized lessons for Ramadan; it is believed to be one of the first patient-focused educational and behavior change models in the country. The course is an innovative, game-based approach to diabetes self-management that teaches the necessary knowledge, skills and proactive attitude required to optimize health and quality of life.

The program utilizes a train-the-trainer methodology (TOT) to prepare facilitators in curriculum delivery and help them teach the model with patients. The first event was held in March 2018 with healthcare professionals from five Dubai/Sharjah locations. During the next phase the trained facilitators work with patients in self-help groups to improve self-care and self-management, accompanied by rigorous support and monitoring.

The 5 Steps to Self-Care trainings helps health professionals gain new capacities and skills in providing valued services to their patients. It also enables them to carry on training others long after the project, reaching many more patients with improved self-care.

The program is privileged to receive the support of the United Arab Emirates Ministry of Health and Prevention, the Emirates Diabetes Society, and the Dubai Health Authority.


In 2014 Project HOPE was commissioned by AstraZeneca to undertake an assessment to look at gaps in care for people living with diabetes, with a specific focus on diabetes prevention and self-management education tools.

Based on the information gathered findings include the patients are challenged to modify lifestyle and adhere to physician counselling due to barriers, there is a lack of culturally appropriate education tools, different ethnic groups require tailored interventions, the spectrum of care varies greatly from provider to provider and more patient support is needed before and during the period of Ramadan.

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