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Break the silence: UAE IBD Society launched to support patients

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IBD society aims to raise awareness surrounding stigmas that plague patients affected by the debilitating condition.

In line with World IBD day, Dr Maryam Al Khatry, Gastroenterologist and Head of Department at IBHO Hospital and former President of the Emirates Gastroenterology and Hepatology Society, announced the formal launch of the UAE IBD Society. Established under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Sultan bin Hamdan Al Nahyan and the supervision of Ministry of Community Development, the society aims to make a difference in the lives of those who are affected by this disease.

One of the key objectives of the UAE IBD society is to increase awareness by addressing misconceptions and creating a community of support by empowering patients to share experiences. The society will offer an inclusive programme to enhance patient quality of life by partnering with prominent figures who can advocate for the community's needs. The launch of the region’s first dedicated IBD patient website (www.IBDUAE.ae), will also serve as a vital instigator in education and awareness activities elevating public understanding and empathy. To fill the gap in understanding and deriving an accurate estimate of people affected by IBD in the UAE, the society will develop a UAE patient registry.

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We want to encourage people to come forward, to actively seek advice, to share knowledge, and to ultimately support one another to achieve a better quality of life. Scientific research is also a key area of focus for the society. By dedicating resources that encourage research into IBD in the UAE, we can work side-by-side with our patient community to further assess the challenges they face and develop meaningful solutions that can make a real impact on their lives,” says Dr Maryam Al Khatry.

Commenting on the launch of the society, H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Sultan bin Hamdan Al Nahyan said: “The launch of the UAE IBD Society supports the UAE Vision 2021 of a world-class healthcare system, by improving education and access to treatment. In recognition of our wise leadership’s objectives, I am proud to be a patron of such an important initiative as we work together to protect and improve public health and the wellbeing of our precious community.”

Chronic illness

IBD (inflammatory bowel disease) is a broad term that refers to a variety of conditions that cause inflammation in the digestive system, the most common of which are Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. It's a chronic illness for which presently there is no cure. While the exact number of people suffering from IBD in the UAE is unknown, it is estimated to be between 2-4 per cent of the population, with the onset occurring most frequently in adolescents and young adults aged 20-30.

Janssen GCC, the Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson Middle East FZ LLC, has supported the establishment of the IBD UAE society. “Janssen is proud to partner with the UAE IBD Society to empower patients with knowledge for the management of their IBD condition. This partnership falls in line with our commitment to place the patient at the heart of our endeavours and to bring in the support to help improve access to quality care,” said Jamie Phares, Managing Director, Janssen GCC, the Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson Middle East FZ LLC.

Those affected by IBD, as a patient or carer, can become a member of the society at www.IBDUAE.ae

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