UAE Health Survey to Inform Policy

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The UAE’s Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP) announced the launch of the National Health and Nutrition Survey 2024-25 on Monday.

Conducted every five years, the survey's results will aid authorities in developing health, economic, and taxation policies in the country.

Dr. Hussain Abdul Rahman Al Rand, Assistant Undersecretary for the Public Health Sector at MoHAP, stated that the survey would be completed in six months.

 "We will analyze the data and share it with the World Health Organization, as well as release it to the public. Participation in the survey is, however, not mandatory," said Dr. Al Rand.

Dr. Al Rand explained that the survey would provide insights into the consumption of healthy and unhealthy food products, tobacco use, and the overall living environment among various communities.

 The findings will be distributed to all government entities to assist in formulating health policies and economic policies related to the taxation of sugary products and other health-detrimental items.

The survey will include adults over 18 years, females aged 15 to 49, pregnant women, and children in two age groups: one day to 5 years old, and 6 to 17 years old. It will be conducted in Arabic, English, Hindi, and Urdu to ensure inclusivity.

To enhance the comprehensiveness of the survey, 2,000 blue-collar workers will also be included.

Following the results of the previous survey in 2019, electronic smoking devices, their tools, and the liquids used in these devices were subjected to taxation.

In 2017, the UAE introduced an excise tax on carbonated drinks, energy drinks, fizzy drinks, and tobacco products to reduce their consumption.

Mohamed Hassan, Executive Director of the Statistics and Data Science Sector at the Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Center, mentioned that it is premature to predict whether new sanctions or taxes will be imposed based on the current survey results.

"For instance, taxes on tobacco and drinks were introduced after the previous survey. We consider the feedback from the population to make such decisions. Given the diverse dietary habits among the 200 nationalities in the country, we cannot target specific groups exclusively.

The survey results will help raise awareness, and campaigns will be designed accordingly,” said Hassan during the press conference.

Hassan also highlighted a gap in health data, noting that UAE Golden Visa holders undergo medical tests every ten years, while Silver Visa holders do so every five years. UAE nationals are not required to take tests for visa renewal, he added.

Dr. Alia Zaid Harbi, Director of the Statistics and Research Center at MoHAP, announced that nutrition tests would be introduced for the first time in this survey.

The nutrition survey will assess micronutrient deficiencies (such as zinc, vitamin A, and vitamin D), dietary intake, child development indicators (including stunting, wasting, obesity, and underweight) for children aged one day to 5 years, urinary iodine and sodium levels, anemia in pregnant women, and salt consumption in grams.

Khalid Al Jallaf, Director of the Research, Studies, and Data Analysis Department at Dubai Health Authority, stated that the survey would reveal food habits among different communities and identify which communities have higher rates of chronic diseases.

“The survey will also identify tobacco users, the age at which they started, and which communities consume less fruit.

We will collaborate with the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Economy, and healthcare providers to promote a healthy lifestyle,” he added.

In addition to MoHAP, the Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Centre, Department of Health, Dubai Health Authority, Emirates Health Services, Abu Dhabi Public Health Centre, and Digital Dubai will participate in the survey.

Source: khaleejtimes

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