World Diabetes Day is marked each year on November 14 by the World Health Organization, the International Diabetes Federation and other global actors as a means for raising awareness about the growing diabetes crisis around the world. Diabetes affects 346 million people internationally and this number will double by 2030 without proper intervention and care. On World Diabetes Day, Booz Allen Hamilton announced the conclusions from a recent dialogue on the disease’s impact in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, where 32.8 million people have been diagnosed with diabetes as of 2011, and this number is expected to increase by 83% to 59.7 million by 2030. To foster collaborative solutions to the diabetes crisis, Booz Allen Hamilton convened executives from leading companies operating in the UAE on November 5, 2012, at the St. Regis Hotel in Abu Dhabi for the “Diabetes in the UAE: Workplace Strategies Tabletop” event. Participants in this half-day event included representatives from the food and beverage, hospitality, pharmaceutical, and health care industries. The group engaged in a dynamic, participant-driven simulation exercise designed to provide stakeholders an opportunity to explore cooperative strategies about how to effectively address the growing problem of diabetes amongst employees and their families. Grant McLaughlin, a Booz Allen Hamilton Vice President who facilitated the event, commented: “Unless action is taken immediately, even larger numbers of people in the UAE will continue to be impacted by diabetes. It is vital that the private sector, which is greatly impacted by the costs of providing insurance and of lost employee productivity, play a critical role within the country to take collective action across society to address this growing public health issue.” During the event, participants conducted a simulation in which they each acted as managers of a fictional multinational corporation operating in UAE and had to make choices to address employee health circumstances in near-, mid- and long-term time frames. Participants had the opportunity to evaluate and prioritize choices from a menu of programs that could help their employees. Recommended programs were designed specifically for this event by Booz Allen Hamilton subject matter experts and focused on nutrition, fitness, mobile health, disease management, screening, cash incentives, and awareness.
Discussion among participants revealed numerous broader themes around approaches to corporate wellness programs and the type of leadership necessary for motivating behavior change that employers can implement to stem the diabetes crisis in the UAE. Over the course of the exercise, participants found the highest value in prioritizing three types of programs: disease management measures, fitness and nutrition programs offered by employers, and cash incentives.Most participants consistently chose to support a comprehensive disease management program that would provide automatic prescription refills, waiver of medical co-pays and weekly meetings with an on-site wellness coach. They prioritized nutrition and fitness programs, wanting to provide literature on healthy eating habits and company-sponsored memberships to an on-location gym, given that the company had sufficient resources to carry out these initiatives. Participants also expressed a strong interest in implementing cash incentive programs to promote healthy practices, but discussed that such incentives would not be culturally appropriate for every workplace, and that additional strategizing needs to occur regarding what constitutes sensitive yet effective methods of instigating behavioral change. Finally, participants suggested that in order to create a sense of public urgency about the diabetes crisis, multiple sectors across the healthcare provider, patient and payer (often private business) spectrum would need to collaborate to identify solutions. Such engagement across all sectors of society, coupled with culturally-sensitive methods, will create immediate, sustainable impact. Highlighting the event’s success, Don Pressley, Regional Managing Director for Booz Allen Hamilton Middle East, said, “Increasingly, leaders are realizing that, in an era of growing complexity, old ways of approaching problems are no longer successful. Today, business leaders from all over the Emirates demonstrated unique insight and strong motivation to fight our number one public health priority – the Diabetes crisis. Given our unique position in Abu Dhabi, we are eager as a firm to support future collaboration between sectors on mutually-important goals such as anti-diabetes initiatives.”
More details on the event’s themes and insights can be found in the Booz Allen Hamilton report, “Fostering Dialogue to Address the Diabetes Crisis in the UAE: Business Leaders Collaborate on Workplace Strategies”.About Booz Allen Hamilton Booz Allen Hamilton is a leading provider of management and technology consulting services to the U.S. government in defense, intelligence, and civil markets, and to major corporations, institutions, and not-for-profit organizations. Booz Allen is headquartered in McLean, Virginia, employs approximately 24,000 people, and had revenue of $5.86 billion for the 12 months ended March 31, 2012.