The UAE’s Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP) has launched a campaign to highlight the risks of obesity and chronic diseases and their association with COVID-19. In the campaign, the ministry has stressed the need for obese people and those suffering from chronic diseases to comply with all COVID-19 safety measures and maintain a healthy lifestyle with a balanced diet to protect themselves from infection. They are urged to strictly follow the treatment plans prescribed by their doctors.
A number of international reports and studies have confirmed that people with obesity and chronic diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases and chronic respiratory illnesses are more prone to contracting the virus. Furthermore, they are more at risk of developing complications from the COVID-19 virus.
In this regard, the ministry has called on people with diabetes and chronic diseases to take the COVID-19 vaccine at their nearest health centre at the earliest.
Speaking about the matter, Dr. Hussein Abdul Rahman Al Rand, Assistant Undersecretary of Health Centres and Clinics Sector, noted that the MoHAP has been paying special attention to the needs of obese patients and those with chronic diseases since the onset of the pandemic in the country. In addition, the UAE health authorities have been providing necessary special medical care to vulnerable groups during the pandemic.
The authorities have prioritised these groups in lab and home testing with the aim of limiting their contact with other people in health centres. They have been placed in the priority groups in the national vaccination campaign.
Dr. Al Rand has urged all people with one or more chronic conditions (severe obesity, diabetes, asthma, lung disease, cardiovascular problems), a weakened immune system due to illnesses like HIV, and those undergoing cancer treatment to be extra careful in following precautionary measures aimed to combat the virus. He added that the severity of COVID-19 increases if the infected person is above the age of 60.
For his part, Dr. Fadila Mohammed Sharif, Director of Health Education and Promotion, underlined that overweight people are at higher health risk during COVID-19. According to statistics, obesity triples the risks of hospitalisation in case of virus infection.
"This is because obesity is associated with weak immunity and reduces lung capacity, making it difficult to breathe," Dr Sharif added.