Air pollution kills more than 400 in Tehran in November


Although smog is a common occurrence in Tehran in November, this year it reached record levels resulting in the deaths of more than 400 people.

Habib Kashani, a member of Tehran’s municipal council, was quoted by the state news agency, Irna on 15 November as saying that air pollution in Tehran had led to the death of 412 citizens in 23 days. City authorities closed all schools mid-November because of the heavy air pollution.

Fine airborne particles climbed to concentrations of more than 150 micrograms per cubic metre; concentrations between 101 and 150 are considered unhealthy for sensitive groups, including the elderly and children.

The main sources of air pollution in the city are from fumes produced by cars, trucks, and motorcycles.

Tehran is particularly prone to smog at this time of year because in the winter, temperature inversions exacerbate Tehran’s smog. A layer of warmer air traps the colder, denser, smog-laden air beneath it, while mountains around the city prevent smog from leaving the valley.

Middle East Arthritis Foundation launches first UAE Support Group

The Middle East Arthritis Foundation launched its first support group for those suffering from Ankylosing Spondylitis in the UAE on 17 December. The meeting at the JW Marriott, Marquis, Business Bay, Dubai, aimed to help affected patients and their families cope with the disease, and to create awareness to aid early diagnosis.

Headed by Specialist Rheumatologist, Dr Ghita Harifi, the group will provide a platform for support, medical advice and treatments, and education of various elements associated with Ankylosing Spondylitis. The disease is the most common form of Spondyloarthropathy – an umbrella term for inflammatory diseases that involve mainly the spine. It often has some particularities that make it difficult to diagnose, making it trickier to manage effectively.

“Back pain is a very common complaint amongst the general population, but many don’t think much more of it than that,” says Dr Harifi. “When it starts before the age of 40, or when it lasts for more than three months, and is associated with morning stiffness or relieved by movement, it may be related to Ankylosing Spondylitis. We don’t know exactly the prevalence of this disease in the Middle East, but it is probably under diagnosed.”

A blood test for the HLA-B27 gene can be done to help confirm a suspected diagnosis of the disease, although this is not an accurate finding as some people who have the gene may never develop arthritis. A consultation with a rheumatologist can help to accurately diagnose patients.

Although statistics specific to the Middle East are lacking, the prevalence of the disease in the United States is 1% of adults, or an estimated 2.7 million people male-to-female ratio is 4-1.

“We launched this support group because there is currently a vast lack of understanding about Spondyloarthropathy, coupled with the fact that it is tricky to diagnose. We hope that this event will create awareness about the disease, not only among thepublic, but also among GPS, orthopedic doctors, and other medical professionals. This will help in ensuring that it can be diagnosed as early as possible, and affected patients can be put on the right course of treatment from the onset,” adds Dr Harifi.

Burjeel Hospital Abu Dhabi opens Pediatric Clinic in Emergency Department

Burjeel Hospital, one of Abu Dhabi’s leading tertiary care facilities, opened a new Pediatric Clinic in its Emergency Department on 1 December. This initiative reflects the hospital’s commitment to providing quality family-centred healthcare and prioritizing the healthcare needs of children. The clinic and medical staff on call will ensure young patients coming into the Emergency Department receive treatment immediately.

Dr Nabil Debouni, Medical Director, Burjeel Hospital Abu Dhabi, said: “At Burjeel Hospital we are dedicated to serving every member of the community, including our “little guests”. Children are at the foundation of a healthy society and caring for them is not just our priority it’s our steadfast commitment. This clinic will go a long way in helping families cope with attending to the healthcare concerns of their children without any delay. Burjeel Hospital’s team of skilled and experienced doctors is well trained to respond to any health emergencies that children may encounter. We constantly strive to provide the best medical care to individuals and families in the UAE and surrounding regions, while providing our signature ‘art of healing’.”

Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi achieves top HIMSS benchmark for EMR

Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi has achieved the HIMSS Analytics Electronic Medical Record Adoption ModelSM (EMRAMSM) Stage 7, an international benchmark for the use of advanced IT to improve patient care.

Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi is the first UAE healthcare facility, and only the second in the GCC, to achieve EMRAMSM Stage 7.

HIMSS Analytics developed the EMRAMSM in 2005 as a methodology forevaluating the progress and impact of electronic medical record systems for hospitals in the HIMSS Analytics Database. There are eight stages (0 – 7) that measure a hospital’s implementation and utilization of information technology applications. The final stage, Stage 7, represents the most advanced patient record environment. Only 4.5% of hospitals in the US, and just ten hospitals outside the US, have reached HIMSS Stage 7 designation.

The validation process to confirm a hospital has reached Stage 7 includes twelve months of data collection and a site visit by an executive from HIMSS Analytics and independent former or current chief information officers from Stage 7 hospitals to ensure an unbiased evaluation. HIMSS Stage 7 environments demonstrate the adoption of technology and analytics to ensure enhanced patient safety, reduced medical errors, superior clinical outcomes, improved reimbursements and informed decision making.

Dr Tomislav Mihaljevic, Chief Executive Officer, Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, said: “We are honored to be the first hospital in the UAE to achieve HIMSS Stage 7 designation. In doing so, we are helping to raise the standard for innovative care in Abu Dhabi and the Gulf region. Achieving HIMSS Stage 7 not only allows us to use the latest IT solutions to enhance the patient experience today, but also establish a datadriven culture that allows us to continuously improve and better serve our patients and the community in the years to come.”

Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi set out with the vision to support the delivery of worldclass healthcare by establishing integrated hospital IT operations. They referenced US-based Cleveland Clinic’s best practices for clinical content and clinical outcomes, and developed an electronic medical record system that is highly integrated with ancillary clinical systems to enable:

  • Capability to share data with external registries to track international quality and patient safety measures
  • Tracking of core patient safety measures such as AMI (Acute Myocardial Infarction), Heart failure and VTE (Venous Thromboembolism Prophylaxis)
  • Seamless Computerized Physician Order Entry (CPOE) across multiple systems
  • Real-time connectivity with US-based Cleveland Clinic for 24/7 monitoring of conditions such as epilepsy and sleep disorders

3 US scientists top list of winners for Hamdan Medical Award

Three American scientists topped the list of winners of International Awards given by the Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid al Maktoum Award for Medical Sciences in December with a total value of AED450,000.

HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, the UAE Minister of Finance and the Patron of the Award, honoured the three winners in a prestigious ceremony in Dubai, the UAE on 14 December, alongside 12 personalities and organizations from the UK, France, Australia, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Morocco.

Prof Harvey J Alter, NIH Distinguished Investigator, Transfusion Medicine Department, NIH Clinical Center, USA, won the Grand Hamdan International Award for the topic of Gastroenterology. Professor Alter’s outstanding achievements and discoveries were recognized worldwide and have contributed to curing and saving the lives of many patients throughout the world. He was the principal investigator of studies that identified non-A, non-B hepatitis, now called hepatitis C. His fundamental discoveries with his colleagues have resulted in major medical advances through ongoing molecular biological and immunological studies aiming to uncover the determinants of viral clearance, persistence and disease pathogenesis. These results shaped the understanding of hepatitis C and was the starting point to find new therapies and vaccines.

Prof Alter also co-discovered the Australia antigen, which is key to detecting hepatitis B virus. His work was instrumental in providing the scientific basis for instituting blood donor screening programs. Currently, he continues to study the infectious risks of blood transfusion, but now focuses on agents other than hepatitis viruses.

Prof Sanford Markowitz, Case Western Reserve University, School of Medicine, Cleveland, Ohio, USA was announced the winner of the Hamdan International Award for Medical Research Excellence for the topic of Colon Disorders.

Prof Markowitz is the holder of Mar-kowitz-Ingalls Professorship of Cancer Genetics at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, and a medical oncologist and colon cancer researcher who is internationally recognized for his discovery of two key colon cancer tumour suppressor genes, TGF-beta RII and 15-PGDH. His work explained why individuals with Lynch syndrome develop familial colon cancer-they are born with a molecular defect that leads to rapid inactivation of a certain tumour suppressor gene. Additionally, he uncovered the reason as to why aspirin prevents colon cancers in some individuals but not others.

Prof David Tuveson, Deputy Director of the Cold Spring Harbor, Laboratory Cancer Centre, New York, USA, won the Hamdan International Award for Medical Research Excellence, for the topic of Pancreatic Diseases.

Prof Tuveson unravelled a number of signalling pathways that play a major role in developing pancreatic cancer. These pathways, and their components, are considered excellent therapeutic targets. Importantly, his work resulted in the discovery of numerous cellular proteins that are linked to this type of cancer, and that these proteins can be used as biomarkers for early detection. His laboratory at Cambridge established a preclinical therapeutic initiative to evaluate potential chemoprevention and intervention strategies for pancreatic cancer.

Prof Tuveson is currently working on designing new model systems for pancreatic cancer and inventing new therapeutic and diagnostic platforms for rapid evaluation in preclinical and clinical settings. His approach is based on the tenants of individualized medicine, as he tests the drugs on specific model organisms for pancreatic and malignant tissues in order to evaluate therapeutic responses in patients.

UAE’s first specialist unit set up to help those with eating disorders

Eating disorders have become a growing concern in the Middle-Eastern community. Though the exact cause is unknown, it is generally believed that a variety of factors including genetics, environmental, cultural and psychosocial aspects contribute to the development of this illness.

Anorexia nervosa, bulimia, and overeating disorders can have numerous symptoms such as adherence to increasingly strict diets, regardless of weight; secretly bingeing on large quantities of food; increase in consumption of laxatives or diet pills and exercising extensively, often several hours per day.

Committed to educating, preventing and assisting those in need, the American Center for Psychiatry and Neurology has launched the first specialized comprehensive evidence-based eating disorders outpatient service in the country. Available in both Abu Dhabi and Dubai branches, this is the first facility to offer an effective solution for patients living in the Middle East that wish to receive treatment without having to leave their environment.

Carine El Khazen Hadati, Clinical Psychologist, Eating Disorders Practitioner and the Director of Eating Disorder Program at American Center for Psychiatry and Neurology, said: “With our regular and intensive outpatient programme offering medical, nutritional, psychological and psychiatric care, we will be able to treat any type of eating disorders whether mild or severe. The introduction of this programme offers patients an affordable and effective treatment option to those who are unable to travel. It also dismisses sufferers from having to travel abroad to attend in-patient specialized care while having to deal with separation from loved ones, adaptation to a new environment, stigma and financial cost - that will have detrimental repercussions on the overall prognosis.”

Jordanian innovator dedicates Stars of Science victory to cancer victims

The winner of Qatar Foundation’s (QF) Stars of Science (SOS) TV show dedicated his victory in season eight of the programme to all the lives that have been lost to cancer and to those currently in treatment.

Medical researcher Sadeem Qdaisat was named the Arab world’s top innovator in the finale of Stars of Science on MBC4 on 19 November. Sadeem said he is hugely grateful for the level of support he receivedfromQF throughout the programme, and in particular from specialists at Sidra Medical and Research Center (Sidra) and Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC).

Sadeem’s winning innovation, ‘GenomiQ’, which aims to eliminate human error and significantly cut down on the time needed to test genetic samples through an automated process, earned him a winning score of 36.8% in a combined jury and public vote, and a prize of $300,000 in seed funding.

“This means we’re ready to help cancer patients; to ease their pain and to provide them with better results,” said the 28-yearold PhD candidate from Jordan. “I’m dedicating this win to all the lives that have been lost to cancer, and I promise to continue to fight for everyone still in treatment and with diagnoses.”

Since 2009, Stars of Science has served as a platform for young people across the Arab region and beyond to solve regional problems, supported by the resources of QF’s Qatar Science & Technology Park (QTSP) and many other prominent institutions within Qatar.

Sadeem, who first presented his automated genetic testing idea in SOS season six, said: “Qatar came up time and again as a go-to destination for innovation support when I began looking for mentoring and backing.” The young scientist said he has been hugely impressed by the “can-do” at-titude at QF, and said he feels particularly grateful to Her Excellency Sheikha Hind bint Hamad Al Thani, Vice Chairperson and CEO, QF, whom he met with other SOS finalists and alumni in the run-up to the show’s finale.

“You can tell, from the very senior figures at QF right through the organisation, that their sole purpose is to help communities, and that they’re prepared to go that extra mile to ensure they achieve this. You just don’t see that anywhere else.”

The young entrepreneur said he had always wanted ‘GenomiQ’ to be an Arab invention, supported by companies and institutions in the Middle East. “My ambition now is to build five devices and get them into hospitals in the Middle East, Europe and the US. I’ve been approached by a lot of companies, and the affiliation with Qatar Foundation has opened many doors for me. Developing a prototype like this is about connecting with people who believe in the idea, and QF has helped enormously in this area.”

Following his win, Sadeem sent a message of encouragement to all young people watching: “You are the future of our region and our world. Have confidence in your abilities, don’t be afraid to take the road less travelled, believe in the power of education and seize any opportunity you have to make your dream a reality.”

National Reference Laboratory gets CAP accreditation

The National Reference Laboratory (NRL) in Abu Dhabi, in November announced that with a total of six CAPaccredited laboratories in its network, it is now the largest, referral CAP-accredited laboratory network in the Middle East.

Clinical laboratory testing is an essential part in the delivery of quality healthcare with 70-80% of medical decisions made based on tests ordered to diagnose, treat, manage, and monitor a patient’s condition. This latest recognition of NRL’s services ensures that the region has even wider access to the highest quality testing, tailored to the specific healthcare needs of the region.

NRL was created in 2010 by Mubadala in partnership with and managed by Laboratory Corporation of America Holdings (LabCorp), the world’s leading healthcare diagnostics company and operator of one of the world’s largest and most experienced clinical laboratory networks. Together with the significant resources of LabCorp, NRL offers a comprehensive menu of more than 4,700 tests, providing a complete solution for all clinical testing needs. Lab- Corp’s support has allowed NRL to quickly become a UAE and regional leader, and to establish a strong reputation as a qualitydriven and patient-centered laboratory.

The latest sites in NRL’s network to receive the prestigious CAP-accreditation, following an onsite inspection of their policies and procedures, are the laboratories of Imperial College London Diabetes Centre, in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain. These laboratories allow the patients of the Centre to get diagnosed within an hour, as well as receive personalized treatment and management plans that significantly contribute to the effectiveness and attractiveness of the Centre as a diabetes hub for the region.

The CAP Laboratory Accreditation programme is a worldwide leader in laboratory quality assurance, serving as the gold standard in laboratory accreditation for more than 50 years. “Achieving CAP accreditation is a critical part of the commitment to provide the highest quality laboratory services for patients,” said Bharati Jhaveri, MD, FCAP, Chair of the College of American Pathologists’ (CAP) Council on Accreditation.

“The laboratories of NRL at Imperial College London Diabetes Centre Abu Dhabi and Al Ain, met all of the requirements for CAP accreditation, demonstrating the rigorous application of the highest standards in laboratory medicine. We congratulate NRL on its commitment and the efforts to pursue the CAP accreditation for all laboratories in their network, ”said Abdul Hamid Oubeisi, CEO of National Reference Laboratory.

HMC’s Communicable Disease Center part of large expansion phase

The official opening of Hamad Medical Corporation’s (HMC) Communicable Disease Center (CDC) in November marked the start of the largest expansion phase in HMC’s history.

The addition of this latest facility to HMC’s portfolio brings the total number of hospitals to nine at present, with three more hospitals set to open in the first half of this year.

“We have begun the largest expansion program in HMC’s history,” said Ali Abdulla Al Khater, Chief Communications Officer at HMC. “Four new hospitals – the Communicable Disease Center, Qatar Rehabilitation Institute, Ambulatory Care Center and Women’s Wellness and Research Center – will significantly increase capacity across our system and provide state-of-the-art environments in which our expert teams can provide care for their patients,” he explained.

HMC was established by Emiri decree in 1979. However, its oldest facility, Rumailah Hospital, has been caring for patients since 1957.

“As Qatar has grown and developed over the past 50 plus years, so too has HMC. This long history of caring for the residents of Qatar ensures HMC is uniquely positioned to understand the specific cultural and healthcare needs of the population and provide the best possible care,” said Al Khater.

The scale of the current expansion phase underway at HMC is vast. When all services have relocated to the new hospitals, between 9,000 and 10,000 patients per week will use the services and the total floor space across HMC will increase by 65% following the full opening of the new hospitals.

“Our patients are already benefitting from the advanced facilities and care they receive at the CDC and the upcoming opening of the three additional hospitals will again strengthen our range of specialist healthcare services and increase our capacity,” said Hamad Al Khalifa, HMC’s Chief of Facilities Development.

The upcoming plans build on the capacity increase that has already taken place across HMC over the past year. The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Women’s Hospital, Pediatric Emergency Center Al Sadd and Bone and Joint Center have all been expanded, while the Enaya Continuing Care Center and a new surgical services facility have opened.


Date of upload: 17th Jan 2017

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