Health For AllTakeda’s Global Initiative Brings IBD Challenges to the Forefront in the UAE

Takeda’s Global Initiative Brings IBD Challenges to the Forefront in the UAE

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Dubai, UAE- March 2024- Takeda, the patient-centric biopharmaceutical company, brought its global ‘In Their Shoes’ program to the UAE. The initiative, focused on raising awareness of the difficult symptoms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), entailed an immersive 24-hour simulation that generated a deeper understanding of how the disease affects the daily lives of patients.

It is estimated that more than 10 million people worldwide live with IBD. Traditionally, IBD has been regarded as a disease of the Western world; however, studies over the last two decades have shown a rapidly increasing incidence in newly industrialised countries in the Middle East, Asia, and South America. It is estimated that 2-4% of the UAE population is affected with one of the two IBD subtypes, Crohn’s disease, and Ulcerative Colitis

IBD is a lifelong condition characterized by chronic inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract. While inflammation is the body’s natural reaction to irritation or injury, in patients with IBD, it is thought that the body’s immune system mistakenly identifies a harmless food or bacteria within the gut as ‘foreign’ and attacks it. 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. IBD can lead to debilitating effects on patients and society.

The ‘In Their Shoes’ initiative offers participants (Healthcare Professionals) a profound understanding of IBD throughout a 24-hour simulation, that took place on September 7th, 2023, and ended the next day. Using a mobile app and an ‘IBD kit,’ participants engaged in common struggles, gaining insights into the disease’s physical and emotional challenges. Through role-play and interactions with actors, they gain valuable perspective on how IBD affects patients’ both professional and personal life.

Of the esteemed participants was Sheikha Dr Alia Humaid AlQassimi, Aesthetic Gynaecologist at Al Garhoud Private Hospital, and Social Development Expert at the Community Development Authority, who commented on her experience in the simulation, “The most unexpected realization about the challenges that IBD patients face was the around-the-clock inconvenience of needing a restroom, as a result of the inconsistent bowel movements known to the disease. With the actors present as part of the simulation, I was able to feel the burden of being someone who is in constant need of special care.’’

Dr. Maryam Al Khatry, founder of the Emirates Inflammatory Bowel Disease Society, confirms her full support for this pioneering initiative. She stressed that highlighting the challenges of this disease goes beyond the issue of awareness, as it is a call to everyone to consider those suffering from the symptoms of the disease and help them overcome its impact on their daily lives and work. As medical teams and individuals in this community, we are committed to promoting the spirit of unlimited support with the goal of further integrating those affected into our community. Through the Emirates Inflammatory Bowel Disease Society, we confirm our support for this vital initiative, and we stand by all initiatives that seek to improve the quality of life and enhance the productivity of individuals in our society.

Ahmed Fayed, General Manager for Gulf countries & Lebanon, at Takeda, said, “At Takeda, our commitment to addressing life-limiting gastrointestinal diseases is unwavering. Alongside our continuous work on innovative treatments within our gastroenterology portfolio, we recognize the significant impact programs like ‘In Their Shoes’ can have on improving patients’ lives.”

The ‘In Their Shoes’ initiative was first launched in the U.S. with a 24-hour simulation during which dozens of Takeda employees learned about the condition most effectively and profoundly: by “living with it.” Following the success of the launch at our U.S. headquarters, Takeda extended the reach of “In Their Shoes” by organizing more simulations across the globe, to spread awareness and knowledge of IBD’s negative effects on its sufferers’ daily lives.

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