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Emirati doctor makes global recommendations to address non-alcoholic fatty liver disease

An expert from the Imperial College of London Diabetes Centre (ICLDC) in Abu Dhabi has urged global policymakers in the Middle East to address non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is a liver disease closely associated with type 2 diabetes and obesity and is on the rise in the region.

Emirati internal medicine consultant Dr. Farhana bin Lootah served on the steering committee collaborating on preparing a document proposing key recommendations for global policymakers that was released to mark International NASH Day 2019.

"We know the prevalence of NASH is rising parallel to obesity and type 2 diabetes. This is a real problem in areas where these conditions are prevalent, such as the Middle East,” says Dr. Farhana. “We need to integrate NASH into existing policies and initiatives aimed at preventing and reducing obesity, especially among children and young people.” - Dr. Farhana bin Lootah

Key recommendations

The report titled ‘Creating a policy narrative around NASH in Europe and the Middle East’ made recommendations that, as a critical starting point, we need to improve our understanding of NASH – in terms of who and how many people are affected, what influences disease progression and how to effectively prevent and treat it.

A multidisciplinary approach to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and NASH is needed and should be reflected in the integration of NAFLD and NASH into public health policies on obesity and multidisciplinary models of care.

Also, the intrinsic links between NAFLD, NASH, obesity, type 2 diabetes, CVD and other NCDs should also be underlined in health promotion initiatives, professional education and policy efforts.

A multidisciplinary approach is needed and should be reflected in the health policies on obesity.

“We also need to improve the diagnosis and management of NASH in clinical practice. The lack of reliable, non-invasive diagnostic tests for NASH hinders early diagnosis and misses opportunities to prevent disease progression. It also complicates the discovery of potential treatments for NASH: as long as people with NASH remain undiagnosed, clinical trials will struggle to recruit participants and will thus remain unable to test potential new medicines,” the report concluded.

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