Tarek Aleryan is head of Public Relations and Media Services at the Dasman Diabetes Institute (DDI). His work entails organizing conferences, workshops and seminars – along with television and radio interviews and press releases to raise awareness about diabetes. Tarek also hosts his own KTV2 program – Hala Kuwait – where he interviews movers and shakers locally. Although he is very busy, he found the time to answer some questions.
Can you tell us about the outreach campaigns you organize for DDI?
Dasman’s mission is to prevent, control and mitigate the impact of diabetes and related conditions in Kuwait. Our collaborations with governmental, private and international organizations give us the expertise to tackle various initiatives. We also provide workshops and development programs for healthcare professionals in the field of diabetes care; and we have a strong relationship with the Ministry of Health to attend to difficult cases – while engaging as many of our patients as possible in research activities. In addition, we have outreach programs focusing on prevention and care. DDI is the leader, locally, in the fight against diabetes. The Institute was developed to integrate a more holistic approach towards the epidemic and to build a center in which research, educational initiatives and clinical services are encompassed under one roof. The staff ranges from scientists to clinicians working with patients towards methods of treatment and prevention. We also provide training courses to patients and healthcare providers; and we have fitness experts working with patients toward lifestyle changes. This collaborative setting provides patients with resources to receive the best treatment possible – along with the ability to fully understand the scope of their condition. DDI hosts conferences, seminars and various events such as World Diabetes Day Walkathon and the annual Open Day. The Institute also organizes outreach campaigns at malls, universities, schools and governmental institutions to promote knowledge and awareness. The most common type of diabetes, Type 2 Diabetes, is preventable. The other types are not. Type 2 Diabetes can be managed by moderate to intense physical activity for half an hour daily, and eating a healthy, fiber-rich diet while avoiding foods high in sugars and fats and maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding smoking.
DDI reached out to Dr. Sanjay Gupta from CNN to discuss obesity. What was achieved from the meeting?
Dr. Sanjay Gupta, chief medical correspondent for CNN and multiple Emmy award recipient, recently filmed an episode of Vital Signs at DDI. The episode was regarding child obesity in the Middle East, and Dr. Roula Barake, head of the Nutrition Department, was interviewed to discuss this issue. Dr. Gupta was keen to learn more about the reasons behind the rise and prevalence of child obesity in Kuwait. He plans to do more segments with the Institute.
The Dasman Institute joined forces with Zain to create a mobile diabetes clinic. Can you elaborate further?
The mobile diabetes clinic was launched on April 10th to spread awareness. This step by the Institute, in conjunction with Zain, came to fruition on World Health Day – under the following theme: Let us Fight Diabetes. The Director-General of the Institute, Dr. Qais Al-Duwairi, anticipates that the mobile clinic will go out to various parts of the country to disseminate information about diabetes and to have the public run tests to see whether they suffer from this disease. Today, one in 11 adults has diabetes; and current projections indicate that in 2040 one out of 10 adults will be diabetic, according to statistics by the International Diabetes Federation. As for Type 2 Diabetes in Kuwait, for those ages 20-79, a little above 20% suffer from the disease. Diabetes also affects 37 out of 100,000 children below the age of 15, which is considered as a very high rate, making Kuwait the third highest nation in the world with such alarming diabetes rates. In the near future, the Institute and Zain telecom will organize a series of awareness events to keep the public informed about this disease.
You also interview people on KTV2. Do you have any tips for others who are also balancing more than one career?
The main tip is that you must enjoy what you do, so that you always find the time needed to do your best. On the television show Hala Kuwait, I get to meet many interesting people. At my job at DDI, I not only get to interact with people, but I am also doing something that benefits us all. What could be better than that?
Finally, what is the next chapter for you professionally?
When Dr. Qais Al-Duwairi became the new Director-General of DDI a few months ago, he energized the staff and encouraged the development of new departmental programs. I see the role of the Public Relations and Media Service Department as a supporter of these new programs. We have an energetic group with plenty of creative talent, and look forward to creating the best media presentation to showcase future programs.