UAE woman becomes first certified female pathologist in Emirates

Hafsa Shebli, has become the first female pathologist in the UAE. Working at Tawam Hospital in Al Ain, she has been certified by the American Society of Clinical Pathologists (ASCP).

UAE national Hafsa Shebli is a qualified Bachelor of Science degree holder in Cellular and Molecular Biology from the UAE University. She joined the Anatomic Pathology Section of the Tawam Laboratory Department in 2005 and after working for six years there decided to pursue higher studies in Cytology in Melbourne, Australia. She returned to the UAE after completing her course.

Humaid Al Mansouri, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Tawam Hospital said: “Hafsa shines as an example of our efforts towards developing UAE national talent. Her enthusiasm, ability to learn quickly and eagerness to acquire new skills were noticed by supervisors who encouraged her to push for further studies. Her hard work and dedication then took over and she achieved this milestone despite being a wife and mother of two young children. We are proud to have her as a colleague. She is an inspiration to our staff and more are expected to follow her example.”

Assad’s forces strike hospital

The UOSSM (The Union of Syrian Medical Relief Organizations) reported 24 June that Al Raqqa Hospital, the only working hospital in the city of Raqqa, was targeted by two airstrikes by President Bashar al- Assad’s forces in the on-going civil war in the country. One strike hit the ICU department and the other one hit the Internal medicine department. The attack caused extensive damage to the building and medical equipment.

Doctors issued an urgent call for the provision of ventilators, monitors, and other ICU medical equipment.

“The UOSSM is outraged by the attack on this medical facility and urges the UN and the international community to provide protection to medical facilities and personnel,” the organisation said in a statement. l See video footage of bombing

Bahrain to launch organ donation database

Coinciding with the launch of the Bahrain Foundation for Organ Relief, the Kingdom is in the process of establishing its first organ donation database. The new database will involve the distribution of organ donor cards similar to those carried by people in the West.

The Foundation is in the final stages of securing permission from Bahrain’s Health Ministry to carry out the organ donation drive. The Minister of Health, His Excellency Sadiq Al Shehabi, has personally backed the effort to expand organ donation in Bahrain.

The Bahrain Foundation for Organ Relief will be launched during a two-day cultural event on October 17 and 18.

100,000 infected with leishmaniasis in Syria

UOSSM calls on the World Health organization (WHO) and the international medical agencies to assist the local health care providers and public health centers inside Syria and on the Turkish border in treating the escalating number of leishmania cases in northern Syria, and to support the local health centers in their efforts to control the spread of the disease. According to Today’s Zaman: “Approximately 100,000 people have been infected with the leishmaniasis in the past two years after civil war broke out in Syria, compared with before the conflict when the number of cases in Syria had been reduced to 3,000-4,000.”

The increase in the number of cases of leishmania in Turkey, impose an additional dimension to the crisis, making the outbreak on the verge of being regional public health crisis.

According to WHO, leishmaniasis is a poverty-related disease, and is associated with malnutrition, displacement, poor housing, illiteracy, gender discrimination, weakness of the immune system and lack of resources. Leishmaniasis is also linked to environmental changes.

Daher Zidan, pharmacist and project manager with UOSSM, has been working on the collecting and analyzing data, said: “The sharp increase in the number of reported cases of leishmania in Aleppo and Idlib provinces, denotes the re-emerging of the disease, that is directly linked to the extensive annihilation of public health infrastructure, and the abandonment of Syrian local authorities from municipal maintenance and services.

“The majority of those cases were reported in areas that are heavily affected by the conflict, and areas with high poverty and inaccessibility to good sanitation, due to water shortage and garbage build up that amplifies the growth of the sand fly.”

Zidan briefly noted key recommendations to control the spread leishmania: “Transmission involves sand fly bites to humans and injection of the protozoal parasite. Therefore it is essential that this fly is eliminated, in addition to implementing other preventive and control measures. There should also be an extensive treatment programme and the creation of specialized centres to control leishmania.”

The UOSSM has initiated a well-organized program directed to treat the old and new cases of leishmania, and coordinate the local municipal services for better spray and application of insecticide to get rid of the sand fly. The UOSSM’s estimated that the budget needed to treat and control leishmania is about US$180,000, and urges the WHO and International medical and humanitarian organizations to contribute, in order to eradicate leishmania from the region.

UOSSM said it views the leishmania outbreak as regional public health crisis that necessitates collaborative efforts between local and international public health providers.

Malaria in Saudi Arabia

According to a report in Arab News the Saudi Arabian Health Ministry said there have been 2,788 cases of malaria diagnosed in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia since 2011. Most malaria victims come from the Tahama region like Jazan and Al Qunfutha. Most cases occur during the rainy season and about 97% originate outside the kingdom.

The Tahama region and Jazan are some of the most crucial areas for malaria in the kingdom and are not covered by the control program because of poor roads, communication difficulties, and lack of manpower. But the situation has improved with the registration of 59 cases in Jazan at 80% and Aseer at 13.04%, while the other areas didn’t register any cases.

The rise in the number of cases started in January this year in all areas and began to fall in March. It is expected to rise again in October and continue until December, especially in Jazan. Statistics show there is a decline in the number of malaria cases beginning in March and reaching lowest rates between May to September, and rising in October.

Mubadala ‘s contribution to healthcare in Abu Dhabi

The Emirate of Abu Dhabi continues to invest in healthcare facilities as part of its Vision 2030 plan to develop a robust, world class healthcare system and Mubadala Healthcare plays an instrumental role in the implementation of this plan, according to Suhail Mahmood Al Ansari, Executive Director, Mubadala Healthcare.

Al Ansari was speaking during a lecture at a knowledge-sharing platform organized by Masdar Institute of Science and Technology. The lecture was attended by top officials from the government and private sector in the UAE, international healthcare industry leaders, as well as faculty and students from Masdar Institute.

Dr Fred Moavenzadeh, President, Masdar Institute, said: “The lecture follows a successful knowledge-sharing initiative that was organized earlier this month under the framework of developing Abu Dhabi’s human capital. We thank the country’s leadership for supporting us to play an important role in strengthening the knowledge development in the UAE and we believe the knowledge exchange will benefit all stakeholders.”

Al Ansari said: “Mubadala Healthcare’s network of facilities and services are helping to address the region’s most pressing healthcare needs. These facilities, coupled with the clinical expertise of our globally renowned medical partners, help to enable the delivery of the highest standards of care, safety and patient experience.”

Mubadala Healthcare has eight facilities offering healthcare in a range of primary and specialty care areas, through collaborations with medical organisations like Imperial College London and Cleveland Clinic.

Islamic scholars support polio vaccination

Islamic scholars from around the world, meeting in Islamabad in June, came out strongly in support of polio vaccination. They suggested that talks with Taliban and grass-roots level advocacy by religious scholars as the best possible option for the government to win the fight against the disease, according to a report in The Express Tribune.

The conference follows a meeting of Muslim scholars in March in Cairo, which aimed to draw up strategies to effectively overcome current social and political challenges to polio eradication in Pakistan.

The scholars who came from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Yemen and other countries, expressed concern over 260,000 children in north and south Waziristan in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan where no vaccination campaign has been conducted due to the ban on polio immunisation since June 2012. The Polio Eradication Initiative has been adversely affected by misinformation about the oral polio vaccination that sometimes has religious underpinnings, says the report.

Scholars said all community leaders and health professionals should consider polio eradication as a public health emergency and express their support publicly to ensure that all children are fully immunised against all preventable diseases.

“Depriving a child of polio drops is equal to committing a sin. Protecting your child from disease is a religious obligation,” Dr Mohammad Wesam Abbas Khidr, Secretary General of Fatwa Dar al-Ifta al-Masriyyah, was quoted as saying.

He said the Islamic religion does not allow killing of innocent people who are providing their service for the noble cause of saving people’s life. A total of 14 polio workers and two policemen guarding them have been killed in Pakistan to date.

Qatar launches five-year primary healthcare strategy

Qatar has launched its National Primary Health Care Strategy 2013-2018, which will be implemented by the Primary Health Care Corporation (PHCC). The five-year plan will focus on improving health promotion, screening, urgent care, chronic non-communicable diseases, home care, mental health, maternal and newborn care, and children and adolescent care.

When this strategy is fully implemented, hospital and primary care will be equal partners in a scenario where self-care will also play an important role, the PHCC said in a statement.

This strategy also comprises other measures like the opening of new health centres, with more than 1,300 new employees, and the digitalization of medical records in all centres by December 2015.

The strategy identifies what is meant by primary health care and surveys current primary health care provision in Qatar. The document looks at major health needs and how these could be met through more and improved health care and introduces guidelines to achieve this.

Tied to this strategy are 10 pledges made by PHCC, among them is the commitment to publish annual reports showing how they are assessing and meeting patients’ needs and strive to provide continuity of care by ensuring that all patients have a doctor they can see on a regular basis.

Other pledges include the establishment of a Patient Helpline, ensuring that by 2014 there will be home care services in place meeting the eligibility criteria, as well as an appointment service assuring consultation times of 12 minutes. One of the challenges the strategy will address is the fact that more people visit hospitals than health centres. A recent survey found that, in the last year, 48% of people visited a public hospital and 32% a private hospital, while only 30% did so to a private clinic and only 29% to a Primary Health Care Centre.

Over 75% of the population is registered in a PHCC centre, and 78% of their visits are for non-specified health needs. The strategy forecasts that the situation in Qatar will undoubtedly worsen in future years because of unhealthy life styles.


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