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

Takeda’s ‘In Their Shoes’ initiative illuminates the daily struggles of IBD patients in the UAE, fostering empathy and understanding among participants.

DUBAI, UAE, March 27, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — 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.

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It is estimated that more than 10 million people worldwide live with IBD.1

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 America2. It is estimated that 2-4% of the UAE population is affected with one of the two IBD subtypes, Crohn’s disease, and Ulcerative Colitis3

IBD is a lifelong condition characterized by chronic inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract3. While inflammation is the body’s natural reaction to irritation or injury, in patients with IBD, it is thought that the body’s own immune system mistakenly identifies a harmless food or bacteria within the gut as ‘foreign’ and attacks it3. 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 society2.

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.

Although the simulation couldn’t fully replicate the experience, it is meant to foster empathy for individuals living with IBD. The initiative falls in line with Takeda’s people-first focus, that not only encompasses patients, but caregivers, medical professionals, employees, and the wider communities in which they operate.

1- https://www.crohnscolitisfoundation.org/WorldIBDDay. Last accessed Nov 2023

2- Ng SC, Shi HY, Hamidi N, et al. Worldwide incidence and prevalence of inflammatory bowel disease in the 21st century: a systematic review of population-based studies. Lancet 2017;390:2769–78

3- https://ibduae.ae/about-ibd/. Last accessed Nov. 2023

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. In addition to that, I was shocked to learn that the only solution to alleviate the symptoms in extreme cases is to undergo a colostomy, an operation that creates an opening for the colon through the abdomen.”

Dr AlQassimi further commented on the experience’s influence on her professional approach as a healthcare provider saying, “The experience was a reminder that being patient-centred requires the utmost empathy and consideration for my patients. It is crucial to believe a patient when they express pain or discomfort, a point that’s been made so much clearer now that I’ve taken part in this program. In the future, I hope to see initiatives like this being adopted across the country and wider region to ensure that awareness is raised for this challenging disease. This includes medical schools infusing a volunteering prerequisite for students as part of the curriculum, awareness programs designed to teach children about IBD and other conditions from a young age, and the formation of support groups for those suffering from IBD and their loved ones. The key here is to ensure the optimal environment that supports the highest possible quality of life for IBD patients.”

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. We take pride in cultivating advocates, both within our organization and externally, who genuinely empathize with the disease, exemplifying Takeda’s dedication to a patient-first approach.”

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 in the most effective and profound way: 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, with the aim of spreading awareness and knowledge of IBD’s negative effects on its sufferers’ daily lives.

About Takeda Pharmaceuticals

Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited (TSE: 4502) (NYSE: TAK) is a global, values-based, R&D-driven biopharmaceutical leader headquartered in Japan, committed to bringing Better Health and a Brighter Future to patients by translating science into highly innovative medicines. Takeda focuses its R&D efforts on four therapeutic areas: Oncology, Rare Diseases, Neuroscience, and Gastroenterology (GI). We also make targeted R&D investments in Plasma-Derived Therapies and Vaccines. We are focusing on developing highly innovative medicines that contribute to making a difference in people’s lives by advancing the frontier of new treatment options and leveraging our enhanced collaborative R&D engine and capabilities to create a robust, modality- diverse pipeline. Our employees are committed to improving quality of life for patients and to working with our partners in health care in approximately 80 countries. For more information, visit https://www.takeda.com.

DISCLAIMER: THIS ARTICLE DOESN’T PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE This initiative partnered with healthcare Professionals only. All information, including but not limited to text, names and comments contained in this article are for informational purpose only and not intended to be substitute of professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment .For more information ,always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider .

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