The society was founded by Dr Al Khatry, who has worked for many years with IBD patients and has seen first-hand how the condition affects all aspects of daily life, not only for patients, but also for their loved ones. Moved by the lack of support available to patients and the misunderstandings that exist around IBD, she pledged to formalise a group dedicated to supporting those affected by IBD and advocate for their needs.
The society will offer an inclusive programme aimed at improving the quality of life for patients. Connecting people is crucial, and efforts will be aimed at empowering patients to share experiences and support one another so they don’t feel alone, whilst working with significant figures who can be an active voice for the community to advocate their needs. Addressing misunderstanding and stigma are also key objectives for the society and with the launch of the region’s first dedicated IBD patient website (www.IBDUAE.ae), the society will use education and awareness activities to elevate public understanding and empathy. As the exact number of people affected by IBD in the UAE is not fully understood, the society also aims to develop a UAE patient registry.
Commenting on the launch of the society, H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Sultan bin Hamdan Al Nahyan said “Since the formation of the UAE in 1971, our great father HH Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan’s vision and leadership has invested in healthcare, recognising that the wealth of our nation is in the health of the people who live and work here. As a result, today, and under the great leadership of HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, president of the United Arab Emirates, we have developed a healthcare system of the highest international standards. Supporting our population and directly addressing their needs results in a healthier, happier community.
“The launch of the UAE IBD Society supports the UAE Vision 2021 of a world class healthcare system, by improving education and access to treatment. In recognition of our wise leadership’s objectives, I am proud to be patron of such an important initiative as we work together to protect and improve public health and the wellbeing of our precious community.”
IBD patients face many challenges and can go through periods of their life where the symptoms make day-to-day life unbearable. Going to work, caring for families and keeping up with everyday activities can be extremely difficult. This, coupled with a general lack of public awareness and understanding of the conditions, causes many patients to feel alone and isolated in their experiences.
Commenting on the launch of the society, Dr. Al Khatry said “Inspired by the achievements made by the sons of Zayed, we decided to contribute to making a difference for the people in the UAE who are affected by IBD. My aim was to create a community that is a welcoming, informative, and safe environment within which patients can talk comfortably about their condition. We want to encourage people to come forward, to actively seek advice, to share knowledge, and to ultimately support one another to achieve a better quality of life.”
She added “Scientific research is also a key area of focus for the society. By dedicating resources that encourage research into IBD in the UAE, we can work side-by-side with our patient community to further assess the challenges they face and develop meaningful solutions that can make a real impact on their lives.”
Janssen GCC, the Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson Middle East FZ LLC, has supported the establishment of the IBD UAE society.
“Janssen is proud to partner with the UAE IBD Society to empower patients with knowledge for the management of their IBD condition. This partnership falls in line with our commitment to place the patient at the heart of our endeavours and to bring in the support to help improve access to quality care. Partnering with patients, caregivers, and advocacy groups is of crucial importance to us, as it helps us bring their perspective into the heart of our organization, to ultimately improve the patient journey. Our mission is to raise awareness of the needs of thousands of patients and caregivers across the region and to provide support, solutions, and education” said Jamie Phares, Managing Director, Janssen GCC, the Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson Middle East FZ LLC.
Those affected by IBD, as a patient or carer, are invited to become a member of the society at www.IBDUAE.ae
References: Centres for Disease Control and Prevention: Data and Statistics, Inflammatory Bowel Disease at https://www.cdc.gov/ibd/data-statistics.htm
Katy Polley (English)
+971 (0) 527373570
About the UAE IBD Society
The UAE IBD Society is a patient society established to help improve the lives of people living with Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and other kinds of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in the UAE.
IBD affects many aspects of life – not only for patients but also for their loved ones – and the condition is often misunderstood.
This society is committed to supporting patients living with these conditions, as well as their families and friends, being an active voce to advocate for their needs and to help them lead a fulfilling life.
We are dedicated to supporting research into future treatment options in the hope of one day, finding a cure.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is an umbrella term used to describe conditions that cause chronic inflammation of the digestive system, with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis being the two most common forms. Other less common forms of IBD include microscopic colitis, lymphocytic colitis, collagenous colitis and Behcet’s disease. It is not known how many people in the UAE have IBD, but it is thought to be between 2-4% of the population. The onset of IBD can occur at any age, but it is most often diagnosed in adolescents and adults between the ages of 20 and 30.1
Both Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis cause chronic inflammation in the digestive system, also known as the gastrointestinal tract or the gut. Inflammation is the body’s natural reaction to irritation or injury, and results in swelling and damage in the gut. In patients with IBD, it is thought that the body’s own immune system mistakenly identifies a harmless food or bacteria within the gut as ‘foreign’ and attacks it. The attack response involves filling the gut with white blood cells, which normally fight infections, and cause inflammation. This mistake by the immune system leads to an upset in the normal function of the gut and causes symptoms such as abdominal pain and diarrhoea. While there are many similarities between Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, each condition affects different parts of the digestive system, meaning symptoms can be different, and the treatment that is given may vary.
IBD is known as a chronic condition, which means it is ongoing and lifelong. At present, there is no cure for IBD, but there is medication, or if necessary, surgery, that can provide relief from the symptoms.
© Press Release 2021