Reem Island, Abu Dhabi to get new childhood centre of excellence

The Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation has announced the establishment of The Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Center of Excellence in Early Childhood Development at Reem Island in Abu Dhabi aimed at facilitating further research and learning on Early Childhood Development (ECD).

A crucial component of the foundation’s Early Childhood Development (ECD) programme for the UAE, the model early childhood education centre will have a capacity for around 80 children of up to three years of age, as well as a kindergarten centre for children from 4 to 5 years of age. There will be an auditorium that can accommodate up to 150 guests, a Parents Resource Center, and a retail store selling organic foods, developmentally appropriate toys and materials for young children and families.

The Centre of Excellence will be a new research-based facility that serves as a hub for early diagnosis and detection of learning challenges. It will likewise be open to university students who focus on ECD or related fields to conduct observations to aid their research. Moreover, the centre will host seminars, workshops and discussions to equip parents, educators and professionals to develop necessary skills and knowledge in ECD practices and policies. The Early Childhood Centre of Excellence will create awareness among the UAE citizens about quality ECD learning programs and also serve as a model lab for other centres. As cognitive, physical, behavioural and learning development are largely defined as 0-3 years of age, early childhood development is a crucial period in the human development cycle and is the determining factor for social and emotional stability throughout an individual’s life.

Further, the Foundation’s ECD program aims to develop and nurture a team of well-trained professionals. As a result, it has established the Shamsa bint Mohammed Al Nahyan Fellowship in Early Childhood Development, in collaboration with Yale University. Currently enrolled in the fellowship is a pool of eight women, of whom seven are Emirati, who are either educators or paediatricians.

While revealing the vision on the fellowship program at the Muntada, Dr Salvatore LaSpada, Executive Director, Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation commented, “For the benefit of our children and the society as a whole, our fellows will be supported in the development of their projects and work with experts in ECD. The centre will be a base for the fellows to learn, share, and disseminate their knowledge to other professionals and educators, as well as parents. Our aspiration is to invest in the capacity of ECD leaders within the country who can take ECD forward.”

Dr Walter Gilliam, Associate Professor of Child Psychiatry and Psychology and Director of The Edward Zigler Center in Child Development and Social Policy at the Yale University Child Study Center, commented: “In collaboration with the Foundation, we have incorporated a Long Distance Centre within the centre of excellence whereby the fellows and staff will be able to connect with Yale University. For training purposes, there will also be cameras in the classrooms whereby the teachers can be connected with Yale while they are interacting with the children.”

The Centre of Excellence was formally launched on 6 October at a Muntada forum that included talks by Dr Salvatore LaSpada; Fatima Al Bastaki, Senior Advisor, Shamsa bint Mohamed Al Nahyan Fellowship in Early Childhood Development, Abu Dhabi; and Dr Walter Gilliam, Associate Professor of Child Psychiatry and Psychology and Director of The Edward Zigler Center in Child Development and Social Policy at the Yale University Child Study Center.

Dubai makes expat health insurance mandatory

Dubai’s ruler has approved a law requiring all employers in the emirate to purchase health insurance for their expatriate staff, a move expected to boost healthcare spending by its 2.2 million residents considerably, Arab News reported.

The law will be rolled out within three years and will make employers responsible for providing at least an “essential benefits package” for every worker. It will be rolled out in several phases by 2016, the Dubai Health Authority said in a statement. The government will remain responsible for the coverage of local citizens, who are estimated to make up less than a fifth of the population. Insurance companies will need to secure a special permit from the Health Authority in order to issue policies. According to official estimates, only 40- 50% of Dubai’s residents are covered by government and private health insurance schemes currently.

Although it is unclear how much the required insurance policy will cost, Dubaibased Arqaam Capital estimates patient claims in Dubai will more than triple by 2016 to AED4.8 billion (US$1.3 billion) from AED1.3 billion a year ago.

“We see a medium-term positive for NMC Health, Al-Noor Hospitals, and to a lesser degree insurance underwriters in Dubai,” Arqaam Capital said, adding, however, that it was not changing its ratings for the companies’ shares, which are “buy” for NMC Health and “hold” for Al-Noor Hospitals. Dubai’s neighbour Abu Dhabi introduced mandatory health insurance in 2007, with patient claims quadrupling as a result.

Arqaam Capital said the move could also spur growth in hospital bed capacity: the UAE has 1.9 beds per 1 000 residents while the global average is 3.0 beds and for developed countries it is 5.5.

Saudi and Canada to work closer in healthcare

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Canada plan to increase co-operation in the health sector over the next six months, according to the Saudi deputy health minister, Mohammed Hamzah Kosheim. Kosheim said details of the plan were outlined during a meeting with Simon Kennedy, the Canadian deputy minister of international trade, and his accompanying delegation at his office in Riyadh. Thomas MacDonald, the Canadian ambassador, was also present during the discussions.

“Canada is a highly developed country in the health sector. We are happy to exchange expertise for the benefit of the two nations,” Kosheim said. Kennedy said his visit was a follow-up to the agreement signed between the two countries recently: “We discussed the details of some of the future projects that are to be undertaken by the two parties.” The agreement was signed recently by Peter van Loan, the Canadian minister for international trade, and Abdullah Al- Rabeeah, the Saudi health minister.

Loan said co-operation between the two countries goes back three decades. “The agreement will create new opportunities to enhance and increase co-operation in the health and medical fields and enable the kingdom to benefit from Canada, which is recognized as having one of the best health care systems in the world,” he said. According to Al-Rabeeah, the agreement would allow the two countries to share medical expertise and exchange physicians and healthcare professionals. Kennedy said that some 4,000 Saudi doctors have graduated from various universities and medical colleges in Canada.

“We currently have around 17,000 Saudi students studying at various colleges and universities in Canada,” he added.

KSA buys more state-of-the-art ambulances

Health facilities across the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia are expected to receive 400 stateof- the-art ambulances within 11 months, the Ministry of Health announced recently. A senior official from the ministry said that the purchase order for these ambulances has been approved by the Health Minister Dr Abdullah Al-Rabeeah at a cost of SR130 million (about US$34 million).

Mohammed Al-Sibeiri, head of the procurement department at the ministry, said the ministry has updated its ambulance fleet by 1,700 vehicles over the past five years, and that these ambulances are available 24 hours a day on toll-free number 937 from any part of the Kingdom. The ministry has been providing 300 vehicles each year for the past three years. He added that the ambulances would be distributed among the 20 health regions spread throughout the country for emergency services.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with GE Healthcare recently to train medical professionals within the ministry. The accord will address current healthcare challenges in the area of training and clinical expertise and focus on transforming healthcare delivery via collaborations, partnerships and regional support from public and private sectors.

According to the agreement, some 600 technologists from the Ministry of Health would be trained in the fields of Magnetic Resonance (MR), Computed Tomography (CT) and X-ray.

The ministry’s professionals will also undergo clinical training and engage in leadership and decision-making programs. Attendees will exchange topnotch practices in modern medicine and hold learning sessions on change acceleration, in addition to shedding light on six sigma methodologies and processes. Al-Rabeeah said that the government is keen on developing its human resources to provide better healthcare services to its people as per the ninth development plan.

“We have adopted an integrated and comprehensive system for healthcare and will increase the development potential of research and education in the Kingdom,” the minister said, adding that the new training institute to be set up at the King Fahd Medical City, would be a major breakthrough for building new skills among the ministry’s medical staff.

Doha to host world paediatric congress

Sidra Medical and Research Center and the Pan Arab Association of Pediatric Surgeons (PAAPS) have been chosen to cohost the 6th World Congress of the World Federation of Associations of Paediatric Surgeons (WOFAPS) in 2019, to take place at the National Convention Center in Doha, Qatar. It is the first time in its 40-year history that WOFAPS will be hosted in the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region. Doha was chosen over Kuala Lumpur, Istanbul and Sydney.

“The selection of Doha as the host city for WOFAPS 2019 continues the organization’s focus on improving the surgical care of children in emerging and developing countries. The region, and Qatar specifically, have invested heavily in building world-class medical institutions and developing innovative infrastructure, making a visit to Doha an exceptional experience from colleagues from across the world,” said WOFAPS President Dr Richard Azizkhan.

Co-chairs of the regional organizing committee, Sidra’s Clinical Chief of Surgery Dr David Sigalet and Hamad Medical Corporation’s Head of Paediatric Surgery Dr Mansour Ali, were in Berlin at this year’s WOFAPS conference when the bid was announced.

Dr Sigalet, who also serves as president elect of WOFAPS and will take over as president in 2017, said: “Qatar sits at the intersection of a growing, youthful population dedicated to learning and improving lives, which makes Doha, Sidra and our regional partners ideal hosts for a WOFAPS conference.

Over 1,000 paediatric surgeons from all over the world will contribute to learning opportunities for the attendees by taking part in training sessions and panel discussions, expanding the regional knowledge bank through access to international expertise, as well as the latest techniques and technologies.” The MENA region has a young and expanding population and consequently a growing need for paediatric surgical care and expertise.

Sidra and its partners are committed to support education for these physicians and will sponsor 100 surgeons from low- and middle-income countries to attend WOFAPS 2019, who would not otherwise have had the opportunity to attend to take part. Sidra Medical and Research Center, currently under construction in Doha, Qatar, will be a fully digital facility with advanced information technology applications, providing world-class care for women and children regionally and globally. Sidra will initially have 400 beds with infrastructure to enable expansion to 550 beds.

Sidra represents the vision of Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser who serves as its Chairperson, and will be funded by a US$7.9 billion endowment from Qatar Foundation, one of the largest of its kind in the world. Sidra staff and the medical and research center will also play a major role in making WOFAPS 2019 a key educational event for the region by holding instructional courses in conjunction with the congress through the use of its simulation center and access to the latest surgical technology.

The theme of the 2019 conference will be “Arabian Pearls of Paediatric Surgery,” and a number of high-profile speakers from North America and Western Europe have already agreed to take part in the event, including Chief of Pediatric Surgery at the Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children Dr Steven Rothenberg; European Paediatric Surgeons’ Association President Dr Jean- Michel Guys; Senior Associate in Surgery, Surgical Director at Center for Advanced Intestinal Rehabilitation at the Boston Children’s Hospital Dr Tom Jaksic; Assistant Professor in Surgery at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine Dr Katherine Barsness; Director of the Colorectal Center at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Dr Marc Levitt; Director of the Center for Prospective Clinical Trials at the Children’s Mercy Kansas City Hospital Dr Shawn St. Peters.

DHA launches Smart Community

All screening results of health campaigns organized by the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) will be entered electronically using the new ‘Smart Community Health Service,’ said a top DHA official recently.

Dr Ahmad bin Kalban, CEO of Primary Healthcare at the DHA, said the new system would provide a boost to community health campaigns and help to analyze vital data. “The community health section at the DHA carries out more than 200 health campaigns annually, targeting different sections of society.

We provide free screening services for blood pressure sugar, cholesterol, etc. during these campaigns.” “Previously all this data was entered manually and analysis was a labour-intensive and time-consuming process. With this system, all the data will be entered and analyzed electronically, which improves efficiencies, minimizes errors and is in line with our smart e-health initiatives.”

Dr Hanan Obaid, Head of Community Health Services, Primary Healthcare Sector at the DHA, said the system would help revolutionise the manner in which surveys are conducted at the DHA. “With the implementation of this system, we tailor-make our screening questionnaires electronically depending on the target audience. Respondents need to register themselves using an Emirates ID, drivers’ licence or any other official form of identification.”

“Once they electronically register themselves, their details are captured onto our system and doctors electronically fill out all the information including blood sugar levels etc. on their smartphones. The results can then be seen electronically by the family physician and respondents are provided with free counselling.

Respondents can later log on to the DHA website and view their results as well as health education materials online at any point in time.” “The paperless process speeds things up for both patients and healthcare professionals,” explained Obaid.

Mafraq Hospital launches breast-feeding program

In celebration of the UAE’s National Breastfeeding Week held from 10-14 November, Mafraq Hospital has committed to enhanced levels of support for breastfeeding mothers and to implementing the WHO/ UNICEF Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative’s ‘10 Steps to Successful Breastfeeding’. One of the largest tertiary referral treatment hospitals in the United Arab Emirates, Mafraq Hospital, which opened in 1982, has 451 licensed beds, and is owned and operated by the Abu Dhabi Health Services Company PJSC (SEHA).

The hospital is fully committed to Emiratization and has developed a comprehensive plan to attract more Emirati talent. It has been recognized twice by the Sheikh Khalifa Excellence Awards for outstanding efforts in improving medical standards, providing exceptional patient care and its adherence to business best practice.

Based on the premise that breastfeeding and mother-baby bonding contribute to healthy growth and development of babies, the Baby-Friendly Initiative launched by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in 1991 recommends breastfeeding exclusively for the first six months of a baby’s life to optimize these benefits.

Thereafter, mothers can continue to breastfeed for two years or more, as is mutually desired by mother and baby, and to complement this with solid foods such as mashed fruits and vegetables. Babies who are not breastfed are at increased risk of infant morbidity and mortality, adult obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis, and breastfed babies and their mothers have less risk of pre-menopausal breast cancer and ovarian cancer.

For mothers, breastfeeding also helps lower the risk of breast and ovarian cancer, uses up to 500 calories a day, is cost-efficient and can help build a stronger bond between mother and baby. Themed “Breastfeeding Support: Close to Mothers”, the UAE’s National Breastfeeding Week campaign focused on the support needed to enable new mothers to initiate, establish and maintain proper breastfeeding practices.

Dr Laila Obaid, Pediatrics Neonatology Consultant at Mafraq Hospital said, “Breastfeeding success begins in the hospital. At Mafraq Hospital, we are committed to adopting maternity practices that are supportive of breastfeeding. We are also strong advocates of the social support required to increase a mother’s confidence in her ability to breastfeed beyond the early weeks and months. Therefore, we believe that the key to the best breastfeeding practices is continued day-to-day support for the nursing mother within her home and community.”

As part of the week-long awareness campaign, invited members of the La Leche League (LLL), a UAE-based non-profit organization, provided breastfeeding counselling and encouraged new mothers through a series of interactive activities.

A special booth was set up at Mafraq Hospital to hand out informative brochures to visitors and give away prizes to nursing mothers who have been breastfeeding their babies for two years or more. The team also counselled mothers at the Bawabat Al Sharq mall. Mafraq Hospital’s trained lactation consultants offer support to breastfeeding mothers from the moment of birth until after moms and babies have left the hospital to go home. The Baby-Friendly designation is awarded after a rigorous on-site survey is completed, and maintained by continuing to practice 10 crucial program elements.

The comprehensive program includes initiating breastfeeding in the first hour of life, “rooming-in” with mums and babies in the same room, educating staff and patients, and fostering breastfeeding support groups. “We have a powerful and experienced team at the hospital coming together to rewrite policies and procedures, undergo considerable training, extend skills to all levels of staff, and establish auditing to ensure that quality is maintained,” added Obaid.

Meanwhile, SEHA announced that in order to service the growing regional community, it is investing US$750 million to build a new Mafraq Hospital campus which is due to open in 2015. The new facility will serve as the community hospital for one of the fastest growing areas in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, whilst continuing to align its goals with those of the Executive Council and Abu Dhabi Vision 2030.

Moorfields Eye Hospital Dubai invests in advanced eye laser technology

Moorfields Eye Hospital Dubai, the first overseas branch of the world renowned Moorfields Eye Hospital in London, has invested in the most advanced technology used for laser refractive surgery for vision correction, providing improved performance for patients in terms of speed, precision, safety and comfort, and often allowing faster visual recovery. Patients can also benefit from a special offer on vision correction surgery until the end of the year.

The Schwind Amaris 750S uses an exceptionally small diameter laser beam with a customised ablation map, which matches the shape of the patient’s cornea. The resulting vision for the patient can be an improvement on pre-treatment eyesight with glasses or contact lenses. Moorfields, in Dubai, is among the first private hospitals in the Middle East to invest in the new technology.

The Schwind Amaris 750S is the leading technology for laser treatment and operates with a very fast repetition rate: 750 tiny light flashes per second shape the corneal surface quickly resulting in patient comfort and better vision correction, correcting one dioptre (a measure of the optical power of a lens) of myopia within 1.5 seconds, and eight dioptres are removed within 13 seconds.

Dr Edmondo Borasio, Consultant Corneal and Refractive Surgeon at Moorfields Eye Hospital Dubai, said: “Patients should only have this eye correction treatment done once and so they want to have the safest and most effective treatment. The Amaris 750S really is the state of the art in laser vision correction – very fast and accurate, whilst providing information of the cornea on screen in real time. It is especially valuable for patients who have complications from other eye diseases and for those who have a complication following previous surgery.

Moorfields is a referral centre for the management of complications following previous refractive surgery. The new technology, which is very compact and patient friendly, is already operational and the patient results have been very good.”

Clinical studies have documented the treatment quality achieved with the Schwind Amaris technology, with visual acuity of 10/10 (100 percent) or better achieved in nearly all cases. This means that a high percentage of treated patients could see even better than before treatment with their glasses or contact lenses. The study also shows that patients had improved contrast vision.

The Schwind Amaris 750S has two energy levels, a high energy level rapidly removes around 80 percent of the tissue to be removed and then a gentler beam removes the remaining 20 percent, creating the smooth surface required for improved vision. Since the patient’s eyes can involuntarily move for milliseconds while fixating on the laser light, the Schwind Amaris 750S compensates for this with its advanced 6 dimensions eye tracker that monitors the position of the eye with approximately 1050 measurements per second and detects all these eye movements and compensates for them, instantly.

Dubai doctor develops new method to reconstruct abdominal wall

Dr Marwan Al Zarouni, head of plastic surgery and wound care at Rashid Hospital, Dubai, announced recently that his novel two-step technique (TST) to reconstruct the abdominal wall had been published by the International Wound Journal on March 15, 2013. He said the procedure is used to manage complex abdominal wall defects that occur due to trauma, multiple re-operations, hernia, abdominal compartment syndrome, obesity and other problems.

He said he had successfully operated on 50 patients using the technique and its novelty lay in ensuring a quick, hasslefree and lasting recovery, unlike an earlier three-stage process where patients come back for repair. The TST uses the same vacuum-assisted or non-invasive wound closure system to promote healing as the earlier procedure, but there’s a difference when covering the exposed intestine.

“Unlike the earlier procedure which used a skin graft to temporarily cover the bowel, I flipped over the skin surrounding the bowel to create the missing abdominal wall. I stitched the flipped skin from either side to ensure the bowel remains firmly inside,” explained Al Zarouni. “With the skin grafts used earlier, the intestine would bulge out and there would be pressure on the patient when he walked or moved, often requiring protection with a binder.

The patient would also have to come back in six months or so for another repair procedure. Now that will no longer be required.” Al Zarouni said the first trigger for the technique occurred when a complicated trauma case involving a labourer was referred to him in 2008. “I realised that this man would not come back to me for follow- up in six months’ time as his company would probably send him back to his home country.”

Necessity being the mother of invention, he invented the TST which puts patients back on their feet in five weeks. While the first two steps are performed over a period of three weeks, an additional two weeks are required for follow-up as an outpatient.

Yale to mentor UAE fellows on early childhood development

The Shamsa bint Mohamed Al Nahyan fellowship, a crucial component of the Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation’s holistic Early Childhood Development (ECD) program, has selected eight of its fellows to train at Yale University’s Edward Zigler Center, which trains future generations of professionals whose work influences both child development research and policy formation.

Seven Emirati professionals and one UAE resident and professional were chosen by the Foundation and Yale University to learn more about ECD. The Fellowship is a one-year program for young professionals with the central aim of building the capacity of the UAE workforce by training a select group of promising early and midcareer leaders to practise ECD in order to improve early childhood services and support in the UAE.

“The strategic partnership between the Foundation and Yale University will increase the skill-set of our Fellows, and therefore contribute to the larger ECD community in the country,” said Sheikha Shamsa bint Mohammed Al Nahyan, leader and founder of the fellowship program. “While Yale University will provide international expertise to our Fellows, the Foundation will support them in implementing the ideas they develop during the Fellowship and over the long term support the leadership roles they will play in this important field.”

Having spent a week in October working with Yale in Abu Dhabi, the first group of the UAE-based Fellows will set off for the Zero to Three National Conference (, the world’s largest professional conference devoted solely to child development in the first three years, on 10 December 2013. This will be followed by a trip to Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut.

They were expected to return by 20 December. During the trip, the Fellows will meet with the Yale faculty who are specialists in issues related to young children and their assigned mentors. The Fellowship also allows for visits to community- based early childhood education centres and health facilities.

“We are excited to host the first group of the Shamsa bint Mohamed Al Nahyan Fellows in ECD. The commitment and engagement of the Fellows in the program so far has been exceptional, and we are confident that their participation at the national conference on ECD at San Antonio along with their visit to Yale University will enrich their knowledge and allow for further discussions on the importance of ECD on a global level”, said Dr Walter Gilliam, Director of The Edward Zigler Center in Child Development and Social Policy at the Yale University Child Study Center.

The Foundation’s role is to increase awareness and raise the ECD discussion levels in Abu Dhabi, UAE and the region in general. The family foundation, founded by Sheikha Salama Bint Hamdan Al Nahyan in 2010, will work closely with UAE experts such as Karima Al Mazrouie, Curriculum Division Manager P-12 at ADEC; Dr. Hossam Al Tatari, Division Chief PEDS-Infectious Disease at Tawam Hospital; and Fatima Al Bastaki, Director of Early Childhood Learning Center at Zayed University as Senior Advisers of the Shamsa bint Mohammed Al Nahyan Fellowship in Early Childhood Development.

Since the inception of the program in October, the Fellows have been encouraged to work on projects that have positive and meaningful effects on the community. The end of the fellowship year is May 2014. The next group of Fellows is expected to recommence in October 2014 with the same vigorous selection process entailing nominations, applications, and interviews conducted by the Foundation and Yale University.


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