Space-Age Dubai Buzzes With World Diabetes Congress
Project HOPE's Executive Vice President, Dr. Michael D. Maves, blogs from the World Diabetes Congress in Dubai.
The first thing that strikes you upon landing late at night at the Dubai International Airport is how alive the city is, even after midnight. You are surrounded by glass, concrete and steel building that look like something from the Star Wars trilogy. They are all lit in a rainbow of colors that accentuate their novel design. In fact, the Dubai Metro stations look like spaceships! This is a very rich country that has had the advantage of being able to plan the city of Dubai and to feature real architectural innovation. Quite a delight!
The World Diabetes Congress is a similarly lively affair. There are over 14,000 attendees here from literally every country in the world. The Opening Ceremony was quite impressive and we were fortunate to have His Highness Shiekh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, UAE Minister of Finance and President of the Dubai Health Authority and Patron of the Congress in attendance.
While there were the expected opening speeches from many of the dignitaries on hand, in my mind, the highlight of the ceremony was a local artist who “painted” pictures with desert sand on a light table – a very unique local touch indeed!
The speakers are the world’s experts in diabetes from every perspective. A particular emphasis of the Congress was the impact of the recent UN Summit on Non-Communicable Diseases and how it might impact the epidemic of diabetes in the world. Coincidentally, the Middle East and North African countries (MENA) have the highest incidence and greatest growth in diabetes in the world. Our diabetes educator program has generated considerable attention from the participants.
I had met a number of speakers before in Washington DC during a conference at the Washington Post. Sir George Alleyne, Emeritus Director of PAHO spoke about the importance of working closely with governments to ensure the implementation of the United Nations accord. Ms. Ann Keeling, CEO of IDF discussed the world perspective and Richard Smith, MD, former Editor of the British Medical Journal spoke quite eloquently about the aspects of diabetes beyond the disease itself – the social determinates of the disease and what it means to be a person or society affected with the disease.
Mr. Bernard Weigl of PATH who we have worked with, discussed diabetic screening techniques for low resource countries. One example was a machine that used biomarkers in the skin to give a reading akin to a hemoglobin A1c that requires no disposables.
Finally, one other notable center of activity at the meeting is the Project HOPE booth. We have had a steady stream of visitors – some old friends, but many people who are learning about HOPE for the first time. They have kept all of us very busy and we will have much follow-up work upon returning to Millwood, Virginia.