We’re all too aware of the toll Dubai life can take on our health. Bad diets, lack of exercise and stress are commonplace, with the Dubai Health Authority reporting that 17 per cent of UAE nationals aged between six and 16 are obese. It’s not just the locals – we’ve all heard of the ‘Dubai stone’, after all. And while most expats would admit they’re not as healthy here as they were at home, it can be hard to find the motivation to kick our unhealthy habits.
With this in mind, Dubai’s first ever Community Health Festival launches this weekend in an effort to encourage residents to be more proactive about their health. From free check-ups and exercise classes to discounted treatments and expert advice, the event aims to inspire Dubaians to look after ourselves that bit more.
Dr Ayesha Abdullah, senior vice president of Dubai Healthcare City, which is hosting the festival, says the goal is to combat the specific diseases that affect Dubai’s community, and promote a proactive approach to health. Dr Abdullah explains: ‘It’s encouraging individuals to be an active participant in their health, rather than a passive participant whereby they just go to the doctor when they’re sick, by which time it’s too late.’
Time for another scary fact: the World Health Organisation lists the UAE as number two in the world for prevalence of diabetes. But as Dr Abdullah points out, ‘The overwhelming majority of [these] diseases are preventable. It pays to invest time in educating people, so that they are empowered and have control over their own destiny.’ The festival aims to hand over that control by offering expert advice and information for free this weekend.
The festival will be split into various zones (family health, nutrition, women’s health, and so on) and there will be workshops, exercise classes and even healthy food to try. Here are just a few of the things on offer.
Health: Skin deep?
Dubai’s Biolite Skin Clinic
Biolite, which specialises in non-surgical treatments, will be offering free scalp and skin scoping, as well as a 50 per cent discount on all of its treatments. Why should you get scoped? Mona Mirza, clinic director, explains
Is Dubai bad for our skin?
The main thing we see is sun damage due to huge amounts of sun exposure, because [expats here] hit the beach at the first opportunity. The other thing we see is a combination of dry skin with acne. The reason is that we tend to be in air conditioned environments all the time, and that dehydrates the skin immensely. We’re not hydrating the skin enough, so we see a lot of dull, distressed skin, very often accompanied by wrinkles.
Biolite’s skin scoping shows how our skin is faring. But what’s the scalp scoping all about?
A lot of people suffer from dandruff and hair loss in Dubai. It’s most likely due to the water. The water is being desalinated with so many chemicals that people lose clumps of hair, your scalp becomes incredibly dehydrated and many people start suffering with dandruff or some kind of psoriasis – that’s very, very common.
We hear you’re in the habit of putting human placentas on people’s heads.
We’ve started a treatment using human placenta protein and low-level lasers to activate regeneration of the roots, as well as treating the scalp itself. Once you’ve treated your scalp, hair loss issues will subside as well.
These primary care specialists will have two stalls at the festival: one focusing on sports medicine and rehabilitation, and the other dedicated to more general medicine. Dr Aleem Mirza, CEO of MediCentres International, tells us more
What are you offering at the festival?
We’re focusing on prevention at the root levels. We’ll be offering workshops, educational advice and focus groups around obesity and diabetes. So it’s going through what diabetes means, what obesity means, things like exercise, diet and the psychology of the diseases.
How important is a festival like this to Dubai?
It think it’s key, to be honest. This is a very young country and healthcare is still a growing area. Working on primary care is the focus – it needs to grow and develop more.
What about this idea that patients need to start being more proactive?
People need to make a step towards changing their lifestyle, otherwise they will suffer at some stage in future. I know a lot of expats who have come over from the States or the UK that were very fit and healthy, but because of the weather, and because the lifestyle is sitting in cars all the time, they’re [no longer] getting out and exercising. This’ll be one way of trying to stimulate them and saying, ‘Look, you know what, there’s more than just getting in the car and going to malls.’
The Community Health Festival takes place on November 6-7, 1pm-9pm at District 1 in Dubai Healthcare City, Oud Metha Road. See www.healthfestivaldubai.com for details.
To launch the festival, Dubai Healthcare City has begun a mobile clinic outreach initiative to take premium healthcare into Dubai’s labour camps, free of charge. ‘We’re going to equip buses as mobile clinics and actually go into these communities to provide free healthcare,’ says Dr Abdullah. ‘I assume going for health checks is the last thing on a labourer’s mind, but if these services are on people’s doorsteps, they’re more likely to take them up.’