The UAE’s Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP) announced the launch of the National Health and Nutrition Survey 2024-25 on Monday. The results of the survey, which is conducted every five years, will help authorities formulate policies on health, economy and taxation in the country.

Dr Hussain Abdul Rahman Al Rand, assistant undersecretary for the public health sector at the Ministry of Health and Prevention, said the survey will be completed in six months.

“We will analyse the data and share it with the World Health Organisation. It will also be released to the public. It is, however, not mandatory for the public to take part in it,” said Dr Al Rand.

The government official said the survey will reveal the consumption of healthy and non-healthy food products by different communities, tobacco consumption by them, and the overall environment they live in.

He added that the results of the survey will be sent to all government entities that will help them formulate health policies and economic policy related to taxation on sugary products and other items detrimental to health.

The survey will cover adults over 18 years, females aged 15 to 49, pregnant women, and children in two segments: from one day to 5 years old, and from 6 to 17 years old. It will be conducted in four languages: Arabic, English, Hindi, and Urdu.

To make it a more comprehensive survey, 2,000 blue-collar workers will also be incorporated into the survey, taking the total number of participants to 22,000.

After the previous survey results in 2019, electronic smoking devices and tools, the liquid used in such devices and tools attracted 100 per cent taxation.

In 2017, the UAE levied an excise tax on carbonated drinks, energy drinks, fizzy drinks and tobacco products in a bit to curtail the consumption of such harmful products.

Mohamed Hassan, executive director of the statistics and data science sector at the Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Center, said it is too early to say that there will be sanctions or taxes on the consumption of certain products as certain policy decisions will be taken based on the results of the survey.

“For example, there was a tax introduced on tobacco and drinks after the previous survey results. We take into consideration responses from people in order to decide on taxation. Not everyone is eating healthy food all the time and people eat different types of foods as well. So, we cannot impose sanctions only on some people as the country hosts 200 nationalities. The survey results will help in creating awareness. There will be certain campaigns that will be conducted based on results of the survey,” said Hassan at the press conference.

Mohamed Hassan said there is a gap in health data in the country as UAE Golden Visa holders take medical tests after 10- years while Silver Visa holders go five years.

Similarly, UAE nationals also don’t take tests for visa renewal, he added.

Dr Alia Zaid Harbi, director of the Statistics and Research Center at MoHAP, said nutrition tests will be conducted for the first time in the survey.

Nutrition survey indicators will cover micronutrient deficiencies (zinc MNDs, vitamin A, vitamin D); dietary intake; child development indicators (stunting, wasting, obesity, underweight) for ages one day to 5 years; urinary iodine and sodium levels; anaemia in pregnant women; and salt consumption in grams.

Khalid Al Jallaf, director of the Research, Studies and Data Analysis Department at Dubai Health Authority, said the results will reveal food habits of various communities and which community accounts for more chronic diseases,

“The survey will also cover people who use more tobacco, at which age they got involved in this habit, and which community’s consumption of fruits is less, etc. Then we’ll work with the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Economy and health providers to educate people about a healthy lifestyle,” he added.

In addition to the 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 take part in the survey.

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