Unified protocol for diabetes

The Dubai Health Authority (DHA) announced in early November last year that, in cooperation with Joslin Diabetes Centre, it was in the process of establishing a unified concept and protocol system for all DHA primary healthcare clinics to manage and treat diabetes.

The Joslin Diabetes Center (JDC) in Boston, US, world renown for its groundbreaking treatment and management of diabetes, recently opened a centre in Dubai.

As part of this process Dr Kenneth Quickel, President and CEO of the JDC and an accompanying delegation met a delegation from the DHA to discuss ways to widen the scope of work that the two organisations have jointly undertaken.

Qadhi Saeed Al Murooshid, Director General of the DHA, said establishing unified diabetes treatment and management protocols was vital to increase efficiency and detect diabetes in its early stages, before it causes health complications.

“The DHA is in the process of defining a roadmap to ensure that we establish common practises of treating diabetes across all DHA hospitals and clinics. This will ensure standardised protocols are followed. We are also looking at building stronger referral systems, establishing a better diabetes database and promoting advanced education in diabetes care and management,” he said.

Al Murooshid highlighted the importance of training doctors at various levels in diabetes management. “Training primary healthcare doctors in diabetes management is a crucial step. We also understand the need to reach out to the community and are working to set up clinics across Dubai to provide diabetes treatment.”

Princess Dina co-president of cancer global task force

Her Royal Highness Princess Dina Mired of Jordan, Director General of the King Hussein Cancer Foundation and Honorary Chairperson of the Jordan Breast Cancer Program was named Honorary Co- President to the Global Task Force for Expanded Access to Cancer Control and Care in the Developing World at a meeting in Boston, United States, in November. The event, the inaugural international meeting entitled “Breast Cancer in the Developing World: Meeting the Unforeseen Challenge to Women, Health and Equity”, was convened by Harvard University to address the need to confront the global epidemic of breast cancer, specifically in the Developing World.

The Global Task Force for Expanded Access to Cancer Control and Care in the Developing World is a newly established initiative with the mandate of designing and setting up a scheme for expanding access to cancer education, prevention, detection and care in the Developing World. The main focus of the task force is to create global strategies to reduce the cost of cancer drugs and to help developing countries implement efficient procurement policies and negotiate better prices.

Dr Mahmoud Sarhan, CEO and Director General of the King Hussein Cancer Center and Executive Chairperson of the Jordan Breast Cancer Program has also accepted the invitation to join this Global Task Force as a member of the technical committee.

During her speech at the meeting’s Opening Session, HRH Princess Dina Mired drew attention to the plight of cancer in the MENA region and called on the international community to mobilise resources for cancer, as was done in the case of infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

HRH said: “I look forward to adding a strong voice from the Middle East and other low and middle income countries to be incorporated in the 2010 white paper that will delineate a set of concrete strategies for reducing the burden and lethality of cancer in the developing world.”

● (Read the exclusive interview with Her Royal Highness Princess Dina Mired of Jordan on page 92)

Tawam appoints new Chief Medical Officer

Tawam Hospital in Al Ain, UAE, has appointed Dr Alan Harvey, MD, MBA as Chief Medical Officer.

Dr Harvey is an anesthesiologist formerly with a large academic department at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston in the United States. He has been involved in medical education, health information technology, and disaster preparedness programmes at the US state and national levels. His focus is on quality of care, patient safety, and efficiency of care.

He is president of the Massachusetts Medical Society/New England Journal of Medicine and has been instrumental in health planning and policy, and developing the universal health care bill in Massachusetts, US, which is being used as a template for the US national health planning and legislation.

Tawam Hospital is managed by Johns Hopkins Medicine and owned and operated by SEHA, the Abu Dhabi Health Services Company.

Qatar forges ahead with genetics research

The prevalence of genetic disorders in the Middle East and strategies for their treatment and prevention were among the topics of the second Qatar Genetics Symposium on 1 November last year. The event was sponsored by Hamad Medical Corporation and Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar.

Dr Ahmed Teebi, professor of paediatrics and genetic medicine at WCMC-Q remarked that Qatar has made great strides in understanding genetic disorders and the ability to diagnose and treat them.

“With Hamad Hospital’s new Center for Genetics, our progress in these areas will continue,” he said.

Genetic disorders are particularly significant in the Gulf Region and the Middle East because of the high rate of consanguinity, estimated to range from 20%-70% in most countries in the region.

In her presentation, Dr Sheila Unger from the Institute of Human Genetics said the number of disorders with a known gene has grown exponentially.

“As of last count, 372 different skeletal abnormalities were known, with 215 having a connection with 140 different genes,” she said.

Progress in genetic deciphering of skeletal disorders has provided valuable information about their physiological mechanisms, she said, but international cooperation is necessary for real progress in fundamental clinical research. Dr Hatem El-Shanti, director of the Shafallah Medical Genetics Center in Doha, said that although consanguinity is associated with higher frequency of genetic disorders and birth defects, it also facilitates the mapping of genes.

“The identification of genes after mapping is a step forward for honing the diagnostic tools used for diagnostic testing and carrier identification,” he said.

Somalia’s health minister killed in attack on university

Dr Qamr Aden Ali, Somalia’s Minister of Health, was killed in an attack 3 December in Mogadishu. Several other senior government and community figures were also killed in the attack, which occurred during a ceremony for medical students graduating from Banadir University.

A statement issued by the World Health Organisation (WHO) says “this tragic blow to the nation's medical fraternity underscores the urgent need for stabilisation and security in the country”.

Dr Ali was a tireless, energetic and influential advocate for health in Somalia who was determined to improve health standards and care for her fellow Somalis. Dr Ali worked very closely with the WHO and was a strong supporter of its activities to strengthen the country's health system.

WHO said the attack serves only to reinforce WHO’s commitment to alleviating the country’s health crisis and supporting those people who are determined to improve health care.

Dubai Health Authority launches Thalassemia website

The Dubai Health Authority (DHA) has launched a website for Thalassemia – www.ThalassemiaCentre.ae. The website provides information about Thalassemia and its management for patients and healthcare professionals as well as news and related events. The website also allows users to interact with each other and to leave comments for the centre’s staff.

“The education of patients is a key part of chronic disease management and the website offers an easily accessible and comprehensive way of doing this. We want to encourage people to use the site to gather information, ask questions, leave comments, and take part in forums where they can discuss issues with other sufferers,” Dr Khawla Belhoul, Director of the Thalassemia Center.

One in 12 people in the UAE carry the gene for thalassemia, a blood disorder that reduces the number of normal blood cells in the body. Around 40% of the patients at the Thalassemia Center are Emiratis, another 40% are expatriates from Asia and Africa, while 20% are other Arab nationals, according to figures from the DHA.

130,00 new addicts in Iran each year

Gulf News, quoting Esmail Ahmadi-Moghaddam, the Iranian police chief, reports that an estimated 130,000 people in Iran become addicted to drugs each year and adds that around 930,000 people, of a population of 70 million Iranians, were addicted to heroin. Iran is on a key heroin trafficking route from the source in Afghanistan, which produces 90% of the world’s supply of opium, from which heroin is derived.

Ahmadi-Moghaddam was also quoted as saying that an estimated 500,000 people had been treated and rehabilitated in Iran over the past six years.

Swine flu starts taking its toll in Gaza

PromedMail reports 15 December 2009, (originally from Haaretz) that concern is spreading in Gaza Strip over swine flu [influenza pandemic (H1N1) 2009 virus infection] with 10 deaths recorded to date and another 20 people diagnosed as having the disease, while there may be hundreds of suspect cases. The Palestinian Civilian Committee is considering transferring some patients to Israeli hospitals.

Gaza residents have been trying to come up with their own initiatives. One resident in an affluent neighborhood of Gaza City is keeping his son home from school, as the schools are seen as incubators of the disease. He told Haaretz there were hardly any vaccines in the Strip, and most certainly not enough for the entire population.

Gaza was largely spared the swine flu pandemic, in part because of its isolation. However, now that the virus has arrived, the high population density and the poor hygiene common in Gaza's poorest areas could mean it will spread rapidly.

A Gaza resident said those who can afford it buy vaccine on the black market for as much as US$50 a shot. Gazans believe anise helps to cure the flu, and the herb’s price has skyrocketed from NIS [Israeli shekel] 18 [US$4.75] a kilo a month ago to as much as NIS 80.

● Meanwhile, Agence France- Presse reports that Israel had allowed in to Gaza Strip 10,000 doses of swine flu vaccine and was was supposed to let in another 30 000 to 40 000 more vaccines supplied by WHO, but had not yet done so by the time of this report (16 December). The Palestinians have requested 300,000 doses for the 1.5 million population.

● In Egypt the death toll from swine flu continues to increase, with the Ministry of Health and Population reporting 59 dead as of 14 December.

Syria moves to stub out smoking

A much tougher anti-smoking law in Syria, signed by President Bashar al-Assad and due to come into force in early 2010, will outlaw smoking in public places, including restaurants and bars, hospitals, sports halls and cinemas, according to an IRIN report. The law covers cigarettes and cigars, as well as traditional ‘shisha’ water pipes.

“The ban is timely,” said Mahmoud Etah, a Syrian doctor. “Smoking, especially of water pipes, has become more prevalent among young people and we are yet to see the full health effects.”

According to the Syrian Society for Countering Cancer, 60% of adult men and 23% of women smoke; 98% of people are said to be affected by passive smoking.

The more serious health effects which the measures hope to reduce include lung and mouth cancer, as well as respiratory diseases.

The levels of these diseases are not documented in the country, but doctors report an increase in the number of people exhibiting symptoms associated with them. The Syrian Government has already passed several laws regulating the tobacco industry and smoking.

A 1996 decree banned tobacco advertising and in 2006 Syria banned smoking in government offices and public transport. The new law envisages a 2,000 SYP (US$44) fine on those who break it.

Latest medical device market report released for ME

Research and Markets have released their latest The Outlook for Medical Device Markets in the Middle East report which provides a detailed analysis of each market, looking at the key regulatory, political, economic and corporate developments in the wider context of market structure, service and access.

They cover five key markets – Egypt, Iran, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and UAE.

Cryo-Save Arabia accredited by AABB

Cryo-Save Arabia, one of the region’s leading providers of umbilical cord blood stem cell processing and storage, has become the region’s first cord blood stem cell bank to be accredited by the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB).

Based at Dubai Biotechnology and Research Park (DuBiotech) Cryo-Save Arabia has been officially recognised by AABB for satisfactorily meeting all accreditation requirements during an intensive on-site inspection conducted by AABB assessors. Sarah Al-Hajali, Executive Manager, Cryo-Save Arabia, said the prestigious accreditation is an “extremely important validation of our processing methods. It is an important minimum baseline for expectant parents comparing cord blood banks.”

Allied Diagnostics opens Sharjah centre

Allied Diagnostics, which has 24 imaging centres in the UK, Europe and in Dubai and Muscat in the Middle East, has opened a new centre in Sharjah. The centre has invested in cutting edge technology which enables them to provide high quality diagnostic imaging and reports.

Part of the United Kingdombased UME Group, Allied Diagnostics is the largest network of stand-alone diagnostic imaging centres outside the United States. A spokesperson for Allied Diagnostics said the company offers high resolution images with fast, accurate digital reporting using RIS/PACS.

“It is the intent of Allied Diagnostics to offer the community the opportunity to access the most comprehensive range of imaging services that exceed expected standards of clinical practice in a compassionate, discreet and professional manner. We take a personalised approach to ensure every patient’s experience is as comfortable as possible,” said the spokesperson.

The Sharjah centre is equipped with 0.35T Open MRI and 3D and 4D ultrasound with colour Doppler imaging, among other devices. These are complemented by Allied Diagnostics Dubai – the ‘hub site’ – which has 1.5T HDx MRI and Ovation 0.35T MRI, 64-sliced CT (low radiation dose CTe), 4D Ultrasound, Digital Mammography with CAD, Bone Mineral Densitometry (DEXA) and general x-ray.

UAE MoH issues guidelines for hypertension treatment

A new set of best practice guidelines for primary healthcare providers was issued by the UAE Ministry of Health and Les Laboratoires Servier late November to help put an end to hypertension. High blood pressure is responsible for hundreds of deaths each year in the UAE.

“The incidence and effects of hypertension in the UAE is unacceptable. To have such a highly-researched, highlyacclaimed and widely available document is a great step forward. To all be on the same page – literally – with regards to diagnosis and management will be a great benefit to doctors and patients,” said Dr Muna Al Kuwari, Director of Primary Health Care, UAE Ministry of Health at the launch of the guidelines in Dubai. “The medical profession is continuing to make advancements in this field and we must all know what this progress is and how to make the most of it.”

“The launch of this guideline is a significant step and ensures that all primary healthcare practitioners have access to the latest global advancements in dealing with hypertension,” Servier’s Professor Gérard E. Plante, Professor of Medicine, Physiology and Pharmacology, University of Sherbrooke, Canada said.

The workshop held at the launch to explain the guidelines is part of a continuing Hypertension Global Care Program that was launched two years ago, after His Excellency Humaid Al Qutami, the then UAE Minister of Health and Les Laboratoires Servier signed a Memorandum of Understanding, detailing a three-year strategic plan to combat hypertension in the UAE.

The project is supported by the Ministry of Health (MoH), Dubai Heath Authority (DHA) and The Health Authority – Abu Dhabi (HAAD). Worldwide prevalence estimates for hypertension may be close to one billion individuals and approximately seven million deaths per year may be attributed to hypertension.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reported high blood pressure as the number one cause of death worldwide. A preliminary report from the National Epidemiological Study of Hypertension in the UAE (NESH – UAE) looks at hypertension among UAE citizens (18-75 years of age).

The data reported in the study focuses on the Sharjah region and the overall prevalence in this screened sample was 36.6%, from individuals aged 30-50 years old. Results also showed that within the hypertensive group there were more females than males (53% vs. 47% respectively).

Dubai to host prestigious World Diabetes Congress 2011

Dubai has won the bid to host the International Diabetes Federation’s 21st World Diabetes Congress in December 2011. This prestigious event brings together experts in the field of diabetes and serves as an important platform for the dissemination of information globally and as an international forum to discuss the latest diabetes research. More than 20,000 delegates are expected to attend the event.

It is pertinent that Dubai has been chosen to host this premier international event as diabetes prevalence has risen rapidly over the past few years to epidemic levels and is now a major burden of disease in the Gulf region with the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar having some of the highest diabetes prevalencies in the world.

Qadhi Saeed Al Murooshid, Director General of the Dubai Health Authority, expressed his pride in winning the bid to host the event: “We recognise the urgency in dealing with diabetes and are aware that the fight against diabetes requires a multi-disciplinary approach which involves prevention, education and lifestyle management. It is a disease that can be combated effectively only when the global community joins hands and we are proud to host this congress in Dubai because it provides a platform where international experts can share state-of-the-art knowledge to combat this condition.”

Saudi’s Hospitals get wired for efficiency

One of Saudi Arabia’s leading private hospital groups – Almana Hospitals – has selected Germany-based medavis to provide its enterprise radiology IT solutions. Four hospitals in Dammam, Al Khobar, Jubail and Hofuf will be fitted with medavis RIS and PACS and medavis Web for patient management, order placing, scheduling, EPR and cross enterprise workflows.

The installation, customisation and training at the Almana General Hospital Dammam was completed in September last year.

Second phase of SKMC’s HIS implemented

Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Khalifa Medical City (SKMC) has implemented the second phase of its new Health Information System (HIS). The system, provided by Cerner and branded internally as iCare, will add more functionality to improve the patient healthcare experience, greatly reduce the paper medical records, improve patient safety, enhance patient confidentiality and reduce the need for redundant medical tests when visiting any SKMC clinic or hospital, SKMC said in a statement.

SKMC is owned and operated by SEHA, the Abu Dhabi Health Services Company. The iCare solution is part of a SEHA-wide initiative to introduce the Electronic Medical Record system to all its facilities across the emirate. The first phase involved the introduction of systems in Registration, Medical Records, Pharmacy, and Radiology. The second phase will include Physician Order Entry – Medications and Medical Tests, Nursing Documentation, Laboratory, Surgery department, and Emergency department.

New breast cancer website for doctors and public

UAE cancer experts have launched a new website – www.oncologysociety-ema.ae – on breast cancer for members of the public and healthcare professionals, in a bid to improve access to accurate information about the disease as part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

The website, developed by the Emirates Medical Association’s (EMA) Oncology Society, uses gold standard materials that have been attested and approved by the US charity Susan Komen, one of the world’s leading breast cancer foundations.

Breast cancer has been chosen as the first type of cancer to be covered by the website as part of the EMA’s current campaign to educate healthcare professionals and the public about early detection, screening, diagnosis, treatment, and after care of the disease.

Over the next 12 months information on other cancers will be added to the site, which also offers healthcare professionals details of upcoming cancer meetings and conferences being held by the EMA.

“The website will provide both the public and healthcare professionals with a fantastic resource, where they can find credible and up to date information on breast cancer,” said Dr Ali Al Numairy, President of the EMA.

‘The site has been developed in collaboration with the Susan Komen charity, which is one of the world’s most active bodies for disseminating information on breast cancer care, and raising funds for research into the disease,” he added.

The website content was put together by the Breast Cancer Committee at Dubai Hospital with the support of Dr Shaheenah Dawood, a senior specialist registrar in oncology in Dubai, and member of the EMA’s Oncology Society.

“The materials were originally developed for a US audience but we have adapted them for the UAE population. However during the process it became even more evident that the UAE sorely lacks good local data on breast cancer prevalence and prognosis,” she said. The most recent local data, released by Dubai Hospital in July, shows that 80 percent of newly diagnosed cases of breast cancer are at an advanced stage, a situation that severely reduces a person’s chances of survival.

● Visit: www.oncologysociety-ema.ae



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