Tackling Type 2 Diabetes in the United Arab Emirates

Tackling Type 2 Diabetes in the United Arab Emirates

Dubai Health Authority, in partnership with Elemental Software launched the Happiness Prescribing Programme to trial and adopt a new approach for diabetes prevention. Using innovative technology to connect communities with diabetes prevention support, the partnership enabled individuals ‘at risk’ to better understand their health issues and create their own Diabetes prevention plan which reduced their risk of type 2 diabetes and other chronic conditions by accessing and engaging in activities in their local community.

The Challenge

In 2014, the Dubai Household Survey found that 36% of the Dubai population sample were at a pre-obesity stage (or overweight) while 11.9% suffered from obesity. Estimating that 500,000 UAE nationals were at risk of diabetes, the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) set out to identify and implement prevention programmes among pre-diabetics and those most at risk.

The Solution

To make the social prescribing model of care relevant to Dubai and the health and wellness landscape, Elemental mapped the various stakeholders and lifestyle interventions in health improvement and listened to the needs of families at risk of Type 2 Diabetes. By understanding the challenges individuals faced in making better lifestyle choices, the referral pathway was developed in partnership with DHA and measurement tools were agreed and incorporated into the platform.

DHA wanted:

  • A community-based health care model, which adopts a new style for prevention of diabetes
  • A platform that connected patient’s, health care professionals and providers of lifestyle interventions
  • An easy way for social prescribers to follow up cases and coordinate with the community service providers in the nearby community premises
  • Reduce the administrative tasks associated with social prescribing
  • Reach as many families as possible and have the ability for Primary Care doctors to refer from multiple centres


In November 2016, DHA launched the innovative Happiness Prescribing Programme, in collaboration with Elemental. As a result of the partnership, a team of 15 primary care health professionals and volunteers co-created social prescriptions with over 250 people.

Using the Elemental platform:

  • Patients self referred themselves onto the Happiness Prescribing Programme
  • Patients completed self assessments that identified their Type 2 Diabetic risk
  • Health professionals explained the health risks
  • Health professionals made direct referrals to healthy lifestyle programmes, including diet and nutrition support, yoga classes, spin sessions and circuit training


“The Happiness Prescribing Programme aims to reduce the risk of the incidence of diabetes among high-risk groups and promote prevention and a healthy lifestyle to reduce the burden of noncommunicable diseases.”

Dr Nahed Monsef, Director of the Health Affairs Department at Dubai Health Authority


“We are honoured to have helped activate the social prescribing model of care in the United Arab Emirates and work the Dubai Government Health Department. We carried out extensive research with Dubai Primary Care health teams, providers of local lifestyle interventions and families in the region. Our social prescribing technology provided the basis for the launch of the Happiness Prescribing Programme and demonstrated the demand from patients for non medical support to prevent conditions such as Type 2 Diabetes”.

Jennifer Neff, Elemental Co-Founder

Project Details

Date 23rd August 2017 Categories