|FORMER United States President Bill Clinton urged governments to include healthy diet and nutrition in their maternal and childcare programmes in order to eradicate diabetes which has so far afflicted 300 million people across the globe and is projected to affect over 50 million people in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) in the next two decades.
An advocate for the fight against diabetes since 2004, Clinton spoke before 550 participants at the two-day “Mena Diabetes Leadership Forum” held at the Inter-Continental Hotel in Festival City.
The event was formally inaugurated as part of the five-day “Dubai 6th International Conference on Medical Sciences” by UAE Health Minister Dr. Hanif Hassan Ali Al Qassim on Sunday afternoon.
Clinton said: “There is a lot of support on maternal and childcare provided for by donors (in countries that have asked for support in relation to health problems such as the HIV-Aids, tuberculosis and malaria). I say that governments must include in these programmes, diet and nutrition.”
He was answering a question raised by event organiser Novo Nordisk, president and chief executive officer Lars Rebien Sorensen, about recent studies conducted by the Danish pharmaceutical firm against diabetes.
Studies showed that “huge” newborns are not necessarily healthy but have been grossly affected by their gestational pregnant diabetic mothers and in the long run, if not guided properly by good diet, nutrition and a healthy lifestyle, become victims of diabetes and its complications such as the non-communicable cardiovascular diseases and cancer, among others.
Clinton added: “My wife once said that every woman in any country has the responsibility gene. So, proper diet and nutrition is a concern of mothers.”
On public and private partnerships wherein Sorensen pointed out that pharmaceutical firms may be seen as implementing initiatives for their own vested interests, Clinton said: “We should not be sensitive here. There is no government (which can address on its own harsh effects) of social behaviours.”
Clinton said he got involved in the global fight against diabetes when during his presidency years he discovered that two of his chief-of-staff children were diabetic. Also, when he left office another close friend of his,who appeared perfectly healthy, died from diabetic complications. Among others, Clinton suggested the encouragement of the youth, the food and beverage industries as well as healthcare providers to address diabetes and its related illnesses through partnerships.
He said: “So many wonderful things, amazing things are happening in your region. Do not let those stop just because of diabetes.”