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KUWAIT - Health & Education

Qais Al Duwairi

Director General, Dasman Diabetes Institute

Bio

Qais Al-Duwairi, former assistant undersecretary of technical affairs at the Ministry of Health, joined Dasman Diabetes Institute (DDI) in 2016. He attained a Bachelor’s of Medicine & Surgery from Cairo University and a Master’s of Hospital Management from Leeds University. His multifaceted approach to diabetes management allows him to lead DDI’s multi-disciplinary team of researchers and medical professionals, combining their knowledge and experience to provide quality diabetes care.

"In any academic or scientific entity, you will inevitably observe change over time, especially regarding research."
Through strategic partnerships, the Dasman Diabetes Institute aims to foster greater awareness of the importance of diabetes prevention, early detection, and treatment to further reduce the onset of diabetes.
What have been the major developments and achievements of the institute over the past few years?

In any academic or scientific entity, you will inevitably observe change over time, especially regarding research. We are active in basic research, and now, we aim to translate that research to improve our patient’s health and community-based initiative. Our research initiatives include epidemiology, etiology, genetics, and pathophysiology of diabetes. We are currently performing a considerable number of genetic studies, as both genetics and lifestyle choices have shown to play a major role in developing diabetes. In 2021, we have published 103 research papers, with 57 original publications. We also aim to understand the public habits that lead to diabetes and learn how to better prevent this disease. Obesity in Kuwait is at a high rate, perhaps ranking the nation among the top five worldwide. More than 40% of Kuwaitis are obese, and as a modifiable risk factor to developing diabetes, we focus our efforts on public awareness. Although we treat diabetes, our goal is to prevent it all together by tailoring our awareness initiatives. We introduced our DasmanSwitch App that launched in 2022. The app uses the FoodSwitch platform, but we have modified its filters to accommodate the needs of persons with diabetes. We also created several filter options that make it easier for users with diabetes to “filter” products based on the nutritional information of their choice. This information will empower users to make better food choices and ultimately improve the existing food environment. It aims to support anyone, with all kinds of conditions, because the wider the reach of our health support, the better the state of the Kuwaiti population.

What is the institute’s current focus?

Currently, we are furthering our research and increasing the number of collaborations and partnerships at the international level. We are working on biomarkers with the Harvard Medical School and attempting to use these tools to diagnose diverse complications. We are also conducting a considerable volume of research in collaboration with The University of Toronto, McGill University, and Montreal Diabetes Research Centre. Such partnerships allow us to secure additional support, be more helpful to other establishments, and gain greater international recognition. We want the knowledge to flow and expand. In 2016, we established a strategy for Dasman. We decided to become a training and education facility as well as a high-end health services provider. We are focused on a holistic approach to diabetes care, with the emphasis on education and prevention. Our strategy is to identify disease at its earliest stage and start the treatment as early as possible. Our nutrition clinic also works closely with medical professionals from around the world, devising new strategies and approaches to help our patients change their diet. The challenge is to help the patient in their pre-diabetic state, which is often not diagnosed. Indeed, this is why we are running many activities to raise awareness and conduct medical checks early on. We want to help the Kuwaiti population be healthy and free of diabetes. We also work closely with the Ministry of Health in Kuwait on several projects, including the National Diabetes Registry.

Dasman Diabetes Institute has received the Center of Excellence award from the International Diabetes Federation. What does this achievement mean to the organization?

It means that the IDF, a major healthcare entity, recognizes our ability to treat diabetes and our approach to conducting research at the highest level. It recognizes Dasman’s capabilities and potential to deliver numerous educational and training programs and contribute to international efforts in tackling diabetes. It emphasized the importance of education and awareness raising within the community, which lies at the core of our activities. It is always better to prevent than to treat. Preventing the disease will minimize the country’s economic burden and promote better use of the health budget, which is why the IDF highlighted Dasman’s activities, research portfolio, and training capabilities.

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