Drop your unused medicines at DHA pharmacies and help the poor
Medicines worth Dh500,000 given away by Dubai residents being donated to charities every month
Dubai: Several tonnes of medicines beyond their expiry dates are being discarded as waste by Dubai residents every year, said a top Dubai Health Authority (DHA) official.
The DHA which launched its ‘Clean Your Cabinet’ campaign to encourage residents to hand over the unused medicines to DHA pharmacies has discovered that people have a huge pile of unused medicines lying at home.
Dr Ali Syed, director of DHA’s pharmaceutical division, told Gulf News: “Our ‘Clean Your Medicine’ campaign was launched in 2011 to raise awareness among Dubai residents to drop off their unused medication at DHA pharmacies across the city at no extra cost. In the first two or three years, the response was lukewarm. However, in 2016 and 2017, we received 10 tonnes of expired medicines from residents and about two tonnes of medication that was well within their expiry dates that were donated to charities to be given away to the underprivileged and needy.”
Dr Syed added: “The aim of the campaign is two-fold — safe and effective disposal of deteriorated or expired medicines and donation of valid medications to charities.”
Every month, medicines worth half a million dirhams are being given away to charities by the DHA since this campaign was launched.
Dr Syed added: “Expired medications are disposed of in line with the international pharmaceutical safety guidelines. Unutilised medications are first re-evaluated by experts within the pharmacy department and then the DHA donates valid medications that are in a good condition to charities.
“Expired medication can pose serious health risks to individuals if not disposed of properly. Flushing down your medication is harmful for the environment and pollutes the water and disposing of the medicines in the garbage (even if it is tightly sealed) pollutes the soil. Therefore, the best way to dispose of outdated medications is to return the medicines to the pharmacy for safe disposal.”
Residents are being encouraged to drop their medication at any of the DHA pharmacies across the 16 DHA primary health centres or those attached to hospitals (Rashid, Latifa, Dubai and Hatta).
How to donate unused medicines
Collect your unused medicines and drop them off at the nearest DHA pharmacy at any of the 16 primary health centres or DHA hospitals.
The pharmacies will accept all kinds of medication, before or after expiry
The pharmacist will examine the medication to determine if it is beyond expiry date and needs to be discarded or it can be used by an underprivileged person.
Banned: Antibiotics pulled from UAE shelves
UAE health authorities removed a brand of antibiotic powder until the quality of active ingredient is verified
Dubai: Health authorities in the UAE have suspended the sale of an antibiotics brand until the product’s active ingredient has been given the seal of approval.
The Department of Health in Abu Dhabi pulled out the antibacterial Megamox Powder products, which was manufactured by Jazeera Pharmaceutical Industries, after laboratory tests showed the drugs contained the active ingredient of Amoxicillin.
The suspension of the antibiotics will continue until the various concentrations of the Amoxicillin ingredient is deemed as safe for public consumption.
All pharmacies have been informed to return the products back to the supplier.
Amoxicillin is used for bacterial infections, sinusitis, tonsillitis, and other conditions, with a list of possible side-effects that include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, cholestatic jaundice and anemia.
The Ministry of Health and Prevention also removed a second brands of antibiotics that contained the active Amoxicillin ingredient.
The product, called Amoclan Powder for oral suspension products, was manufactured by Hikma Pharmaceuticals in Jordan.
Local health authorities carried out laboratory tests and found that the medicine contained levels of Amoxicillin outside the permissible range.
Battle against obesity in UAE starts with slashing sugar in food products
Front-of-pack labelling for pre-packaged foods is another measure being considered to reduce obesity
Abu Dhabi: To curb the spread of obesity in the UAE, health regulators are currently discussing the implementation of front-of-pack labelling for pre-packaged foods, as well as a 20 per cent decrease in the sugar content of food products.
The initiatives are part of a 12-point strategy developed by the Abu Dhabi Department of Health (DoH) to combat childhood obesity, and the hope is that the measures will be adopted across the country, Dr Jamal Al Mutawa, manager for community health and surveillance at the department, told Gulf News in the capital on Thursday.
“Our records showed a concerning increase in childhood obesity in the emirate of Abu Dhabi between 2010 and 2015. In fact, the proportion of children carrying excess weight increases steadily through the grades, with up to nearly 40 per cent of all children enrolled in Grade 8 being overweight or obese. This is why a task force was launched in 2016 to look for solutions against obesity,” Dr Al Mutawa said.
“Internationally, we have seen the effectiveness of front-of-pack labelling towards helping people make healthier food choices, and know that it would also be helpful to reduce the sugar content of food products. While such regulations may take a while to be refined and implemented, the important thing is that the discussion has begun,” he added.
The DoH’s strategy also includes targets like ensuring that children get at least an hour of physical activity every day, and measures to prevent the marketing of unhealthy foods among young people.
Dr Al Mutawa was speaking on the sidelines of the Gulf Obesity Summit and Regional Congress 2018, a two-day meeting in which health professionals and regulators are sharing their experiences, with the aim of reducing the prevalence of obesity in the region.
Experts at the conference highlighted that the obesity epidemic has reached crisis proportions in many countries. In fact, more than 1.9 billion adults and 381 million children around the world are known to be either overweight or obese. In the UAE, the prevalence of children carrying excess weight is double the global prevalence, with one in every three schoolchildren either overweight or obese at present.
Explaining the measures discussed by the DoH, Dr Al Mutawa said the initiative to decrease sugar content in food products would reduce added sugar.
“The plan is to have food producers gradually reduce sugar content over a period of four years after implementation. In the UAE, we have already seen taxes implemented on sugary drinks last year, and a decrease in sugar within other foods would further complement these taxes in helping people consume healthier foods,” he said.
On the other hand, front-of-pack labelling would help consumers make healthier food choices.
“Typically, people often do not have the time to peruse food labels when shopping. These front-of-pack labels provide quick information on how healthy a product is, and are recommended by the World Health Organisation as effective measures to encourage healthier food choices,” Dr Al Mutawa said.
For instance, the United Kingdom uses a traffic light labelling scheme, with a green light indicating that an item is a healthy choice. The DoH launched a similar labelling scheme in 2017 for packaged bakery and dairy products, as well as for dishes served in restaurants.
The Weqaya voluntary certification scheme places a green-and-blue Weqaya logo next to healthy food items. While 30 entities have adopted the logo so far, including national flag carrier Etihad Airways, the uptake is still limited.
“We are ready to support caterers and restaurants, and the adoption of this scheme is free of charge for them, including an analysis of menu items and even training for restaurant staff. So we would like to see more food producers come forward to support the fight against obesity,” said Dr Lamees Abu Hlaiqa, section head for chronic conditions at the DoH.
Obesity strongly linked to Type 2 diabetes
It is well known that obesity is a risk factor for Type 2 diabetes — which affects a whopping 19 per cent of adults in the UAE between the ages of 20 and 79 years — and a recent study has confirmed the link between the two conditions among Emiratis.
An analysis of 966 Emirati patients showed that the prevalence of Type 2 diabetes increased by 6.5 times among obese men, and by 9.4 times among obese women, said Budoor Al Kaf, researcher at the Imperial College London Diabetes Centre.
In a presentation at the Gulf Obesity Summit and Regional Congress 2018, Al Kaf also highlighted that people with Type 2 diabetes tended to pursue less physical activity, even though there was no significant increase in Type 2 diabetes prevalence as a result of decreased physical activity.