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By MANDEEP SINGH for Gulf Daily News

Bahrain, Aug 13: AN alarming rise in the number of non-communicable diseases in Bahrain has prompted moves to open a health promotion centre to raise awareness of the problem.

A proposal to establish the centre will be presented to Health Minister Dr Nada Haffadh next month, it was revealed yesterday.

It has been in the pipeline for years and aims to combat illnesses such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer.

Health Ministry Assistant Under-Secretary for Training and Planning, Dr Fawzi Amin, said the number of such cases is increasing across the region.

"This (the centre) has long been considered necessary to increase the visibility of health promotion and underline its significance for the Kingdom," he told the GDN.

"The centre would ultimately become a highly visible facility where Bahrainis and foreigners come together to learn, talk about and participate in health promotion issues.

"It will be an open and public space to ask questions, attend lectures, attend cooking classes and seek support, among other things."

It would also assist in the professional training of nurses, doctors and allied health professionals - becoming a place for visiting researchers and scientists to contribute to health promotion research.

Dr Amin said the centre was necessary because of the dramatic increase in preventable diseases, which are the country's biggest killers.

"Cardiac diseases and cancer, together with trauma, are perhaps the leading causes of death, while diabetes prevalence is estimated between 20 and 30 per cent of the country," he revealed.

However, the problem is not only confined to Bahrain and is reflected across the Gulf and Eastern Mediterranean region.

"The share of non-communicable diseases in the region's disease burden is expected to rise to 60 per cent by the year 2020, the incidence of hypertension to 26pc and diabetes between seven and 25pc," added Dr Amin.

He said the new health promotion centre would be established in consultation with key stakeholders including government ministries, civil societies, Non-Governmental organisations (NGOs), academics and other experts.

"Although Bahrain has implemented numerous programmes in a variety of settings, there is a need for more co-ordinated action and a shifting of resources from treatment to health promotion," said Dr Amin.

He added that more standardised data on health risks and lifestyles needs to be collected and used to set national goals.

"Without a systematic planning process, it is very difficult to determine the degree of success of a strategy or programme," he said.

"If you cannot measure it, you cannot manage it or set enlightened public policy for it."

Dr Amin said that ultimately, Bahrain aims to equip people to take control and maintain their own health.

"This is why the important role of healthy public policy needs to be spelled out within a national action plan," he added.


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