Artificial eye fitting – a first for Moorfields Dubai

A 22-year-old Emirati, who preferred to remain anonymous, has become the first patient at Moorfields Eye Hospital Dubai to be fitted with an artificial eye, after first seeking treatment in the US and then Germany. The young man had been blind in one eye from birth and then subsequently injured his blind eye in an accident in 2001.

Specialists working at Moorfields Eye Hospital Dubai first surgically removed the damaged eye, prepared the socket and then crafted and fitted a handmade artificial eye which perfectly matches his remaining natural eye.

The patient, who was delighted with the results, said: “I hesitated to have such sensitive treatment in the UAE and looked for international options in the US, where I initially went, and then Germany. I found out about Moorfields Eye Hospital in London and when I contacted them they explained about the new Moorfields hospital at Dubai Health Care City. Once I met the team in Dubai, I realised that I could get the same standard of treatment here in the UAE.”

Paul Geelen, Ocularist, who worked with Dr Andrea Sciscio, Moorfields Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon, explained: “Our aim is to create a hand crafted eye with a very natural look that is indistinguishable from the real eye. With a little adjustment for size and colour, this patient’s eye will be an excellent match. These acrylic artificial eyes are very strong, easy to maintain and provide long comfortable wear and so the result will be a significant improvement for the patient.”


AHD in worldwide LION videoconference

Dr Muaaz Tarabichi, an American Board Certified ENT surgeon at the American Hospital Dubai (AHD) has performed a new surgical technique for a worldwide audience of 1,000 surgeons as part of the Live International Otolaryngology Network (LION). Twenty surgeons at 11 hospitals in 11 countries were invited to demonstrate their new surgical procedures via live videoconference.

Dr Tarabichi showcased a new procedure using an endoscope for cholesteatoma – a skin cyst that develops in the inner ear. Around 5% of the UAE population develops cholesteatoma and the disease can affect patients at any age. If not properly treated, it can cause imbalance, nerve deterioration and deafness.

“With a 4mm endoscope, which is the same instrument used for sinus surgery, this procedure provides a better field of view into the ear, reduces surgery time and speeds up recovery,” said Dr Tarabichi.

This was the first time a hospital in the UAE had been invited to participate in this annual event.

Nursing scholarships for Bahraini students

The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Medical University of Bahrain (RCSI Bahrain) is seeking qualified applicants from Bahrain to enter the RCSI Bahrain Scholars programme. A total of 70 School of Nursing and Midwifery scholarships are available.

Those students wishing to practise nursing may apply now for the four-year School of Nursing and Midwifery programme. On completion of the programme, students will receive the internationally recognised Baccalaureate of Science (BSc Hons) in Nursing Degree.

Diabetes Conversations Map launched in Egypt

A new diabetes educational programme, called Diabetes Conversations Map, has been launched in Egypt. The programme sponsored by Eli Lilly and Company aims to provide patients and families with an understanding of the disease and a realistic outlook to help them continue living quality lives.

Designed for use in small groups of three to 10 patients, the Conversation Maps are 1 metre by 1.5 metre table-top visuals that foster a dialogue between diabetes patients and healthcare professionals. They are designed to provide a better understanding of diabetes and a better selfmanagement of the disease.

Speaking at the launch of the programme, Professor Samir Helmy Asaad, Professor of Internal Medicine and Diabetes at Alexandria University, said: “Egypt has one of the highest incidences of diabetes in the world, many people who have the disease are not educated about the proper ways to manage it. Patients with diabetes need to know that with slight changes to their daily routines, they can continue leading valuable and rewarding lives. The Conversation Maps provide knowledge through dialogue with healthcare providers, ultimately improving the quality of life of Egyptians.”

Call for $20bn Saudi private sector investment

In a report in Arabian Business Dr Mazen Fakeeh, directorgeneral of Dr Soliman Fakeeh Hospital in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, has called for a US$20 billion investment in new facilities and services in Saudi Arabia’s private healthcare sector over the next seven years to meet growing demand.

He said there were not enough hospital beds to meet demand brought about by a growth in population, an ageing population and new laws on mandatory health insurance. He added that he was going to invest around $130 million on new projects over the next three years.

GE, Saudi MoH sign MoU for skills training

GE Healthcare has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Health to train medical professionals from the Ministry.

Under the MoU, GE Healthcare will continue to conduct clinical training programmes for the Ministry’s professionals, offer clinical education on-line, engage senior professionals in leadership and decision making programmes, share best practices in modern medicine, identify training opportunities for the staff and hold educational sessions on change acceleration.

The goal is to train more than 600 technologists from the Ministry by offering 30 courses in the fields of Magnetic Resonance (MR), Computed Tomography (CT), and X-ray across 13 cities in Saudi Arabia within one year.

Joslin opens diabetes centre in Dubai

The world-renowned Harvard-affiliated Joslin Diabetes Center has opened a centre in Dubai on the campus of the Al Wasl Hospital.

His Highness Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, UAE Minister of Finance and President of Dubai Health Authority, said at the inauguration of the centre: “I am pleased that the Dubai Health Authority has partnered with a centre that is known for its treatment methods and its capability to effectively treat and manage this disease.

HE Qadhi Saeed Al Murooshid, Director General of Dubai Health Authority, said: “Diabetes is one of the major diseases that affects a significant percentage of our population. The partnership with Joslin will ensure that we can utilise their competency to actively tackle this disease. This centre will be the first completely dedicated centre for diabetes care and prevention in the Emirate of Dubai and such a multi-disciplinary approach to managing the disease is indeed crucial at this point in time.”

Dr Hamed Farooqi, MD, Medical Director of the Joslin Diabetes Center Dubai said: “An important aspect of strategy, especially in the context of Dubai where a large percentage of the population are diabetics or are prediabetics, is setting up a diabetes training programme for primary care doctors in Dubai.”

He said this will help provide unified standards for the prevention of diabetes across the Emirate of Dubai. “We will also bring in a software platform to track quality of care, clinical outcomes, physician education and patient compliance.”

The centre will mirror the same approach to treating and preventing diabetes as is followed in Boston and will be able to treat 100 patients a day.

Bilateral computer-assisted total knee replacement

The UAE’s first bilateral computer-assisted total knee replacement procedure was performed at the Dubai Bone and Joint Centre (DBAJ) at Dubai Healthcare City (DHCC) in April.

Dr Michael van Steijn, the orthopedic surgeon who performed the surgery a 64- year chronic osteoarthritis patient, said: “The surgery utilizes state-of-the-art technology to guide placement of the artificial knee (implant) into the ideal position. If this position differs from normal alignment by even three degrees, early wear of the implant will occur, shortening its life-span. Computerassisted navigation allows for precise control and ensures normal alignment. The procedure eliminates the need for preoperative planning including additional CT-scans or X-rays and involves less blood loss.

“Total knee replacement is a well known procedure for the treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee. The ultimate goal is to achieve a strong and pain-free knee. Computerassisted surgery allows the surgeon better control and more accurate alignment compared with conventional instruments.”

Suzanne Al Houby, Vice President of DBAJ, said: “Although knee replacement is a common procedure, computer-assisted surgery for this purpose is an innovative new offering from DBAJ. The success of this procedure places Dubai Bone and Joint Centre at the forefront of treatments in this region and complements its status as a member of Dubai Healthcare City in providing world-class medical solutions.”

Leishmaniasis in southern Iraq

Nearly 200 cases of leishmaniasis have been registered in the southern Iraqi province of Missan, about 350km south of Baghdad, a local health official said in May.

“So far we have registered 190 cases of leishmaniasis in different parts of the province, both in urban and rural areas, and among different age groups,” Zamil Shia, the provincial health chief, told IRIN.

Shia said the epidemic was manageable and teams were monitoring affected areas.

Region-wide bone health awareness campaign

Nestlé Middle East announced the launch of a region-wide initiative to boost bone health knowledge and preventative action. The announcement was made by Jean-Louis Chaumeil, Chairman and CEO of Nestlé Middle East during a cooperation signing session with the Pan Arab Osteoporosis Society (PAOS).

The “Nestlé Strong & Healthy Bones” initiative addresses the need to propagate bone health knowledge in the region to help prevent osteoporosis. This need is reflected in recent studies which indicate that 35% of women over the age of 50 in the Middle East suffer from osteoporosis and are at risk of bone fracture. The initiative will see several education programmes and active campaigns rolled out across the region in the coming months.

Call for more nationals to become nurses

The head of the one of the region’s leading schools of nursing has made a call for more nationals to consider nursing as a career in an effort to stave off the impact of what could become a critical shortage of nurses in the growing number of healthcare facilities across the region.

“The region’s healthcare sector is growing rapidly but this growth could be affected by the lack of trained nurses from national populations,” said Kevin O’Malley, President of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland - Medical University of Bahrain (RCSI Bahrain). “Governments are successfully implementing strategies to invest in and develop their national medical infrastructure to serve the region’s growing population, as well as a means of attracting foreign investment. However, the success of these strategies in delivering qualified nationals to practice medicine will be challenged as long as the region faces a shortage of nursing skills. The importance of nursing for the healthcare sector is often over-looked but without a constant supply of qualified nursing personnel to support patient care and the work of healthcare teams, the potential growth rate of the sector will be held back.”

RCSI currently has a post graduate facility in Dubai Health City, which has 130 students enrolled on two master’s programmes. They also opened a new state-ofthe- art campus in Bahrain early this year.

Batool Al-Mohandis, Head of School for Nursing & Midwifery, RCSI Bahrain, added: “From our own experience, we have seen rapid growth in the numbers of students attending our teaching institutions in the region, but, growth rates in student admissions from national populations for nursing have not been matched by those for surgery, radiology, dentistry, pharmacy and physiotherapy. Based on the latest research, Dubai has an average of 29.1 nurses per 10,000 of population. In comparison, countries such as Norway and Finland have 100 nurses per 10,000 of population. To ensure the sector can meet the needs of Dubai and the GCC’s as a whole, both from an economic and a patient care perspective, more nationals need to study nursing as a career.”

As part of its strategy to meet the growing needs of Bahrain’s healthcare market, RCSI Bahrain has partnered with Tamkeen, Bahrain’s labour fund, which currently provides funding for 60 nursing places per year.

Rashid Hospital opens luxury suites

Rashid Hospital in Dubai, UAE, has recently opened five VIP and two royal suites, to add a lavish touch to healthcare at the hospital.

His Excellency Qadhi Saeed Al Murooshid, Director General of Dubai Health Authority (DHA), who inaugurated the suites, said: “At DHA we should be able to provide from the very basic in healthcare to the more luxurious options. Keeping in tune with the way healthcare is being provided today, the move will ensure that Dubai further establishes itself as a place for medical tourism.”

He said the decision to provide these services was taken on the back of the success of luxury suites that were built in Dubai Hospital and Al Wasl Hospital in Dubai.

Each suite has state-of-theart medical equipment, a nurse, catering services as well as other facilities such as the internet. The VIP rooms have a patient’s room and another room for family members whereas the royal suites have a dining room and a majlis.

Foundation stone laid for Bahrain Health Oasis

His Highness, Shaikh Khalifa Bin Salman Al Khalifa, Prime Minister, Kingdom of Bahrain laid the Foundation Stone for the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland Bahrain Health Oasis.

The RCSI Bahrain Health Oasis concept extends over a combined site of around 60 hectares and will feature three keystone projects, RCSI Bahrain, The King Hamad General Hospital and the Oasis Private Hospital. The Health Oasis will also house clinical specialist treatment centres, a medical innovation and incubation centre, offices for medical and healthcare enterprises, a five star resort and four star hotels with spas and a wellness centre. The public promenade will have shops and waterfront cafes, serviced apartments with managed care and sports facilities.

Saudi doctors’ pay scale standardised

Saudi Arabia’s Arab News reports that in May the Council of Ministers standardised the salary scale for doctors and other staff working in government and specialised hospitals, who fall under the rules issued by the Council of Civil Service.

All health practitioners working in public hospitals and health centres run by the National Guard, Defense and Aviation Ministry, Interior Ministry, Health Ministry and King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center are affected.

According to the report the Cabinet said doctors having rare specialisations would get a 30% allowance, while those who have obtained professional excellence would receive the same. Training supervisors will receive a monthly allowance of SR2,000 (US$534), while medical directors and heads of medical and health departments will get a monthly lump sum.

The Cabinet said health authorities and universities must provide accommodation to doctors. Doctors will get an annual housing allowance of SR50,000 until they receive their own housing units.

Dr Yassir A. Bahader, deputy chairman of the oncology department at King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center in Jeddah, was quoted as saying: “This will boost the morale of doctors and encourage them to work hard.”

Tawam Hospital volunteers honoured for work

Tawam Hospital in Al Ain, UAE, has honoured 53 volunteers with an award in appreciation for their outstanding efforts in charity work and for their enrolment in the two month ‘Leave a Mark’ programme.

The objective of the ‘Leave a Mark’ programme is to give patients all the emotional and physical support they require to feel more comfortable during their stay at Tawam Hospital. The volunteers, ranging from high school students to working executives, were assigned a number of positions, such as customer services, meet & greet and rehabilitation.

“The enthusiasm and eagerness of the volunteers was overwhelming,” said Saeed Al Kuwaity, Chief Financial Officer, Tawam Hospital.

He said the programme was tailored by the hospital’s HR department to benefit patients by giving them extra support and to serve the volunteers by providing them with invaluable work experience.

WHO declares Yemen free of polio

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared Yemen a polio-free country following what it says were successful efforts to eradicate the virus over the past three years, reports IRIN.

Yemen was first certified polio-free, after more than a three-year safety period, in February 2005, but the country was reinfected around the same time after a pilgrim returning from Saudi Arabia caught the polio virus from a fellow pilgrim from Nigeria. The reinfection resulted in an outbreak of 473 cases, according to WHO. Since 2006 no case of polio has been reported.

Despite the WHO declaration, national anti-polio campaigns will continue, to prevent any possible introduction of the polio virus from neighbouring African countries.

According to WHO, there are still four countries in the world that remain polioendemic – Afghanistan, India, Nigeria and Pakistan.

Atrial fibrillation prevalence in GCC to be established

In a first for the region Sanofi-aventis and the Gulf Heart Association have partnered to conduct a regionwide study of the prevalence of atrial fibrillation.

The first phase of the Study of Atrial Fibrillation (SAFE) was due to be launched across the GCC and Yemen in June. Initially 2,000 patients suffering from atrial fibrillation will be involved in the study to develop base line data needed to monitor the management and control of the disease in a one-year follow-up.

Dr Muhammed Zubaid, Principle Coordinating Center, Gulf Heart Association, is the lead investigator and will have a team of around 50 doctors from across the seven countries.

“We currently do not have facts and figures on the prevalence of this disease, but we do know it has a high prevalence,” commented Dr Zubaid. “The aim of SAFE is first to find out the approximate incidence of arterial fibrillation; second, to learn how to better manage and control the disease and finally, to find out the burden of this disease on our health system.”

Researchers will distribute a web-based data collection form to all hospitals in the region to enable them to input patient data on atrial fibrillation. The software is the first step to creating a region-wide registry of the disease in order to establish its prevalence in each country.

Nurses receive training from Wound Care Academy

Education and training, a lack of critical appraisal skills, information overload and a need to keep up to date with research are some of the barriers to healing and effective wound care management by nurses, the Programme Director of the Middle East Wound Care Academy pointed out during the third annual Wound Care Academy.

Thirty senior nurses from the GCC, Turkey, Iran and Libya participated in this year’s event held in Dubai recently.

Madeleine Flanagan, a registered nurse, Principal Lecturer at the Faculty of Health & Human Sciences at the University of Hertfordshire, UK, and Programme Director of the Middle East Wound Care Academy (WCA) said: “This programme is about more than just the clinical aspects of wound care management,” Flanagan explained. “It’s also about the context in which care is delivered. For example, the high incidence of diabetes in the region raises specific woundcare challenges – the occurrence of diabetic foot ulcers, which can result in infection and amputation, are difficult to treat and poor patient compliance adds to the problem.”

About a third of people with diabetes will develop foot ulceration within a year of diagnosis.

“We are seeing relatively young diabetics here with ulcers more commonly associated with an older patient in the UK and there is a worry that diabetic patients are hiding their wounds with potentially very serious consequences,” Flanagan added.

The principles and practices of wound care are well established and so the WCA aims to help these specialist nurses go back to their hospitals feeling focused, empowered, and confident in their abilities and knowledge, looking to lead their colleagues in the important area of chronic wound care, with the support of a new network of professionals in the region, created through the Wound Care Academy.

UAE sets up adverse drug reaction monitoring centre

Drug side-effects are to be recorded daily in a new national database operated by the UAE Ministry of Health, according to a report in The National newspaper.

The information will be used to alert the public and physicians, as well as in research on how different drugs interact.

The programme will be implemented by representatives from the Health Authority Abu Dhabi, the Dubai Health Authority and private facilities.

Iranian govt called on to release jailed AIDS doctors

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) has issued a call on the Iranian Government to release Drs Kamiar and Arash Alaei, world-renowned HIV/AIDS specialists who were indicted in December on charges of communicating with an “enemy government”.

In January, Kamiar and Arash Alaei were sentenced to prison terms of three and six years respectively in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison. According to sources close to the brothers’ case, the appellate court received their appeals on March 17 and the following day – without a hearing – rejected their appeals and upheld their sentences.

PHR says the brothers travelled across the United States and the world to share Iran’s model of HIV prevention and treatment. The Iranian government alleges they were working to recruit people to foment a “velvet revolution”.

“Such allegations hurt the future of public health and indicate a dangerous trend toward punishing health professionals for working in the US or having US citizenship,” said Sarah Kalloch, PHR’s Director of Outreach. “Physicians for Human Rights believes that treating AIDS is not a crime – it’s good medicine.”

Dr Kamiar Alaei is a doctoral candidate at the SUNY Albany School of Public Health in Albany, New York and was expected to resume his studies there in the fall of 2008. In 2007, he received a Master’s of Science from the Harvard School of Public Health. Dr Arash Alaei is the former director of the International Education and Research Cooperation of the Iranian National Research Institute of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease.

Since 1998, the doctors have worked on HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention programmes in Iran, particularly focused on harm reduction for injecting drug users. Their efforts helped earn Iran recognition as a model of best practice by the World Health Organisation.

AUBMC first in region to be awarded Magnet recognition The American University of Beirut Medical Center (AUBMC) was awarded the prestigious Magnet designation on 23 June. AUBMC is the first institution in the Middle East and only the third outside the United States to receive this award.

The Magnet Recognition Program is offered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) for nursing excellence “in the delivery of care to patients, promoting quality healthcare services in an environment that supports professional nursing practice, and providing a mechanism for the dissemination of best practices in nursing services”.

Magnet-recognised organisations set the global standard for professional nursing care and innovative health care reform that fully meet the needs of patients, families, and communities. Only 5% of all US hospitals are Magnet recognised, including prestigious hospitals, such as, Cedar Sinai Medical Center and Johns Hopkins Hospital.

“This is an extraordinary achievement that attests to the dramatic changes that have taken place at the AUB Medical Center in recent years, particularly related to nursing services,” said Nadim Cortas, VP for Medical Affairs and Dean of the Faculty of Medicine. “Having Magnet status recognises the first rate care we provide our patients today and is a sign of our dedication to offer the best nursing services in the region in the future.”

Gladys Mouro, Assistant Hospital Director for Patient Care Services, who spearheaded the six-year effort to secure Magnet recognition, explains: “I decided to embark on the Magnet journey the moment I recognised that it would raise the bar of quality to a level of excellence for our patients who deserve the very best.”

The decision to apply for Magnet status in 2003 marked both the culmination of a long process to rebuild nursing services at the hospital after the 15-year Lebanese civil war and the beginning of an ambitious campaign to transform the practice of nursing at AUBMC and to set new nursing standards for the region.

During the six-year Magnet application process, Mouro, and her colleagues introduced comprehensive changes to improve nursing practice at the Medical Center that were confirmed by a team of three appraisers from the US-based ANCC in April 2009.

“I think the appraisers were impressed – even surprised – by what they saw and heard from our patients and also the physicians,” said Mouro.

Munthir Kuzayli, Medical Center Director, said: “The hard work and deep commitment of the nursing leadership and the nursing staff at large as well as the serious and ongoing support of the Medical Center leadership and community converged positively toward Magnet recognition of AUBMC. We will build on this success in the years to come.” 


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