Qatar's health sector has launched the remote ‘Covid-19 and Diabetes’ programme to proactively treat vulnerable patients.
In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH), Hamad Medical Corporation’s (HMC) Qatar Metabolic Institute (QMI) and the Primary Health Care Corporation (PHCC) launched an outreach programme earlier this month to ensure that individuals living with diabetes are not only continuing to receive the care needed to manage their condition but are also being proactively treated as part of a prevention strategy to minimise their risk for severe COVID-19 illness.
Titled ‘Covid-19 and Diabetes’, the programme features virtual clinics and remote consultations, has seen the establishment of patient management pathways, and is providing guidance for Type 1 and Type 2 diabetics during the coronavirus pandemic through the development of two Covid-19 and Diabetes Guidelines, according to a report on the MoPH website.
Professor Abdul-Badi Abou-Samra, co-chair of the National Diabetes Committee and director of QMI, said people with diabetes have decreased immunity and must take extra precautions and preventive measures to protect themselves from Covid-19. He says it is important to minimise their risk of severe illness by being proactive with diabetes care and prevention strategies.
“The 'Covid-19 and Diabetes' programme delivers essential diabetes care to all diabetic patients during the coronavirus pandemic and proactively prioritises the care of patients who have poorly controlled diabetes and multiple risk factors,” said Professor Abou-Samra.
Professor Shahrad Taheri, chair of the National Diabetes Committee Research Committee and professor of Medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar, said the programme is designed to be preemptive, promoting awareness and providing direct access to diabetes care teams.
“People with pre-existing non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and hypertension are more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with this virus. Those who have poorly controlled diabetes (Type 1 or Type 2) and are treated with insulin will be contacted as a priority so we can make any necessary medication adjustments and offer access to online diabetes management support. We want as many of our patients as possible to be achieving their target ranges, which not only includes blood sugar control but also control of blood pressure and cholesterol,” said Professor Taheri.
Dr Mahmoud Zirie, senior consultant and head of the Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism Department at HMC, said the MoPH, HMC and PHCC are working together to identify patients most at risk for diabetes complications.
“High-risk patients are being identified through a patient data review. Treatment teams consisting of physicians and or diabetes educators, as required, will contact patients through video and/or telephone to conduct remote consultations,” said Dr Zirie.
Dr Samya al-Abdulla, executive director - Operations and senior consultant of Family Medicine at PHCC, noted that teams are in place to support patients.
“Our interdisciplinary teams of family physicians, nurses, dietitians and health educators are ready to support the management of diabetic patients during the Covid-19 pandemic. An integrated pathway is already in place linking HMC and PHCC clinicians with patients as part of our commitment to supporting the management of diabetics, especially those who require specialist care,” said Dr al-Abdulla.
Individuals living with diabetes who have questions about how Covid-19 could affect them can call the diabetes hotline. This phone-based emergency service is available seven days a week from 7am to 10pm (16099; select option 4) to provide individuals with diabetes, as well as their relatives or caregivers, with medical advice.
For more information about diabetes and to access the Covid-19 and Diabetes Guidelines (Type 1 and Type 2), visit https://www.hamad.qa/EN/your%20health/Diabetes/Pages/default.aspx/
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