VPS Healthcare’s Dr Shamsheer Vayalil honoured with Global Humanitarian Award at UN

Dr Shamsheer Vayalil, Founder and Managing Director of VPS Healthcare, received the Global Humanitarian Award at a special reception held at the United Nations headquarters in New York on 5 May 2015. Dr Shamsheer was recognized for his lifelong philanthropic efforts and commitment to serving the less fortunate across the developing world. At the reception, Dr Shamsheer donated 100 free heart surgeries to the United Nations for the underprivileged across the globe.

The award was conferred by H.E. José Manuel Ramos-Horta, former President, Timor-Leste and Special Representative and Head, United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau; H.E. Lana Nusseibeh, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the United Arab Emirates to the UN, in the presence of many senior UN officials, members of the diplomatic community and leaders from civil society including H.E. Jean-Francis Régis Zinsou, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Benin; H.E. Téte Antonio, Ambassador, Permanent Observer of the African Union to the UN; Amir Dossal, Chairman, Global Partnerships Forum; Lucie Brigham, Chief of Office, United Nations Office for Partnerships; Kelly Abramson, Director, Penn Global Medicine; Dr Prakash Masand, Chairman and CEO, Global Medical Education; and Dr Aziza Shad, Director, Pediatric Hematology Oncology and BMT, Georgetown University Hospital.

Commenting on this honourable occasion, Dr Shamsheer said: “It’s with deep gratitude that I accept this honour on behalf of the VPS Healthcare family. I feel extremely humbled to receive such recognition on a platform so honourable, amongst such respectable peers.”

“It is the need of the hour for private organizations to come together and support the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations, which are to be adopted later this year. As our commitment to support the noble cause of the UN, I pledge to donate 100 free heart surgeries to the United Nations for the less privileged across the world,” Dr Shamsheer added.

Speaking on the occasion, Nusseibeh, said: “The power of the private sector is still a force that needs to be harnessed by multilateral organizations and the public sector alike – and we need to look no farther than Dr Shamsheer and VPS Healthcare for an example. Given the potential for opportunity for a company as diverse as VPS Healthcare in the African market, such a philanthropic effort will not only allow VPS Healthcare to get a better sense of future customers but also uncover ways to align their efforts to support the SDGs.”

“As a permanent representative of the UAE, I am proud to be here today as we honour this Abu Dhabi-based company, and as a global citizen, I am grateful for your contribution, Dr Shamsheer, to the well-being of the underprivileged in our society and beyond.”

Dr Shamsheer said: “This is just a beginning to what we want to achieve in terms of helping people in need. Our contributions don’t stop here, we have a long and endless path to look for ways that help poverty, rebuild communities post war or natural disasters; our aim is for people in need to attain a better life for themselves and their families. This award reinforces our intrinsic need to continue to strive and help the underprivileged regardless of geographic boundaries.”

Al Jalila Foundation offers Emiratis scholarships for post grad studies Al Jalila Foundation, a global philanthropic organisation dedicated to transforming lives through medical education and research, welcomes Emirati medical students to apply for postgraduate medical scholarships. AED 4 million has been allocated for the 2015/16 scholarships programme, which is open to all Emirati students who wish to pursue postgraduate studies in medical and health sciences in the United Arab Emirates. The application deadline for Al Jalila Foundation postgraduate medical scholarships for the 2015/2016 academic year is 31 July 2015, and successful applicants will be announced in September 2015.

For more information, visit: www.aljalilafoundation.ae

Al Jalila Foundation offers Emiratis scholarships for post grad studies

Al Jalila Foundation, a global philanthropic organisation dedicated to transforming lives through medical education and research, welcomes Emirati medical students to apply for postgraduate medical scholarships. AED 4 million has been allocated for the 2015/16 scholarships programme, which is open to all Emirati students who wish to pursue postgraduate studies in medical and health sciences in the United Arab Emirates.

The application deadline for Al Jalila Foundation postgraduate medical scholarships for the 2015/2016 academic year is 31 July 2015, and successful applicants will be announced in September 2015.

For more information, visit: www.aljalilafoundation.ae

Boehringer Ingelheim sets up stroke academy

Pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim has launched the Boehringer Ingelheim Stroke Academy in the Middle East North Africa region. The academy aims to bring together leading international experts, cardiologists and neurologists to highlight the unmet treatment challenges and identify effective solutions, which will enable these experts to support patients, families and health authorities in the MENA region.

Globally, stroke has been identified as one of the leading causes of death. Prevention of stroke measures would involve identification of risk factors which can lead to stroke like atrial fibrillation, irregular blood circulation, tendency for blood clotting which requires effective treatment to minimize the chances of stroke occurrence. The Stroke Academy will introduce the participating experts to the latest scientific advances in prevention treatment and symptom management protocol. At the same time, it will to establish treatment protocols for emergency care.

Boehringer Ingelheim recently introduced the ‘MENA Stroke Initiative’ which encourages establishment of stroke units in hospitals across the Middle East which will offer a dedicated stroke program to bring quicker, lifesaving treatment to stroke patients with effective outcomes. It is a part of the company’s corporate social responsibility approach towards ‘Making every second count, toward stroke recovery’, and an effort towards developing the overall stroke management approach in the region, focusing not only on providing effective medicines but also developing the infrastructure required to provide optimal care to patients.

Dr Suhail Abdulla Al-Rukn, Neurology Consultant and Stroke Specialist, Neurology Department at Rashid Hospital-Dubai Health Authority; and Leader of the MENA Stroke Initiative who established the first certified stroke unit in the MENA region, said: “We launched the first stroke unit in the region in Dubai last year and since then we have witnessed great success in management of stroke, helping us to significantly bring down the associated mortality rates. Three more units are expected to be setup in the UAE and we aim to set-up more units in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Lebanon, Algeria, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain. The MENA Stroke Initiative aims to: decrease door to needle times- which is the interval between patient’s arrival to the hospital and starting the treatment; establish dedicated stroke units; enable healthcare practitioners with the technical know-how of stroke unit protocol; sustain quality care and facilities through unit certifications and introduction of the latest scientific materials.”

Yemen’s healthcare struggles amid conflict

The health and lives of millions of people are at risk in Yemen as healthcare facilities struggle to cope with the demand for healthcare amid the ongoing conflict, according to a statement by the WHO in early June.

“As always in conflict, it is innocent civilians that pay the highest price,” said Dr Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General. “Almost 2,000 people have been killed and 8,000 injured so far, including hundreds of women and children.”

The shelters housing internally displaced persons are full of stories of loss and survival. For example, 6-year-old Malak lost her mother and saw others around her die as her family fled the fighting and 65-year-old Fathiya lost 13 members of her family and is now the sole guardian of 3 grandchildren who survived.

Almost 8.6 million people are in urgent need of medical help. WHO was able to dispatch almost 48 tonnes of medicines into the country during the 5-day ceasefire in May, serving some 400,000 people. This is vastly insufficient and people continue to suffer not only from war-related injuries, but from inability to get basic treatment for the most common health conditions, or get obstetric care during childbirth.

As the conflict continues, more lives are lost every day, not just due to the violence, but as a health system that has been seriously damaged barely copes with the extraordinary needs posed by the unrelenting violent conflict and can no longer provide them with the health services they need to stay alive.

Hospitals around the country are closing down their emergency operations rooms and intensive care units due to shortages in staff and fuel for generators. Medicines for diabetes, hypertension and cancer are no longer available. The National Tuberculosis Programme has shut down in some areas, and infectious diseases such as malaria and dengue fever are spreading. Outbreaks of polio and measles are also serious risks.

Throughout the conflict, there have been widespread violations of international humanitarian law and Geneva Conventions for the protection of health facilities, staff and patients. Health infrastructure continues to be hit, with attacks reported on hospitals and ambulances, a medical warehouse, an oxygen factory, and a blood transfusion centre. Some health care workers were killed trying to save lives and more injured.

“This unnecessary loss of innocent lives cannot go on. The health system must be allowed to function unimpeded by the insecurity. All parties must respect their obligations under international humanitarian law to protect civilians, health facilities and health staff during conflict and to permit the supply of vital humanitarian aid, such as medicines, vaccines and medical equipment to areas where it is needed most, and ensure the right to urgently-needed lifesaving health care,” Dr Chan said.

Emirates survey finds patients satisfied with healthcare services, but not cost

An insightful new survey, the first of its kind, giving patients’ perspective of the quality of the UAE’s healthcare provision has revealed the majority of users are satisfied with services in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah but not happy with the cost.

The survey, ‘Quality of Service: Patients Perspective UAE’ commissioned by Ethos Integrated Solutions, the region’s leading provider in delivering excellence for customer experience, was compiled from faceto- face interviews with over 1,000 residents aged between 18 and 56 of Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah, across genders and nationalities.

Satisfaction levels of eight specific healthcare provision attributes were tested, including perceived levels of staff skill/competency, doctor-patient information exchange, overall quality of treatment and healthcare cost. “The findings make for compelling reading for all involved in healthcare delivery,” said Robert Keay, founder and CEO of Ethos. “Patient experience is playing an increasingly important role in healthcare reforms and healthcare delivery generally.

Added to the importance of patient satisfaction, figures from the World Health Organisation reveal that the per capita spend on healthcare in the UAE reached US$1,569 in 2013 ranking the country within the Top 50 countries globally.

“Given plans by Dubai in particular to move into the realm of medical tourism, it is important to understand how customer experience, in this case patient experience, is playing out across multiple healthcare platforms. “In the UAE there is no universally adopted measure of national patient satisfaction for healthcare. Given this lack of information and the importance of healthcare economically, we commissioned the survey to assess the level of patient experience in terms of overall healthcare provision and, more specifically, doctors’ quality of service and consistency in advice.”

Overall healthcare provision attained a satisfaction score of 72.7% though the cost of healthcare in the UAE attracted the lowest level of satisfaction at 62.9%. “There was, however, considerable disparity in the rankings given by residents of the three surveyed emirates, with Abu Dhabi ranking the highest,” explained Keay. “And interestingly, UAE nationals appear to be more satisfied with the service and cost than expatriates, particularly those using government facilities.”

Overall doctor quality of service rated 69.5% though 44% admitted seeking second opinions and again disparity of ranking between emirates was evident. Doctors in Sharjah were the most likely to be recommended to friends and family, particularly by nationals. Almost a quarter of those surveyed, both nationals and expatriates, said they preferred to seek treatment outside of the UAE. Western expatriates are the most likely to seek treatment abroad closely followed by Asian expatriates.

“Seven key healthcare destinations were named as the preferred source of treatment, depending on nationality, with better doctors, service, lower cost, specialised diagnosis facilities, stricter government standards and ability to communicate cited as some of the reasons for going abroad,” said Keay.

The survey also drew a wide-range of patient suggestions for improving the UAE health system. “These are not only focussed on cost reduction but improvements to medical insurance, facilities, patient care, quality of doctors, healthcare management and education,” added Keay.

For details on the survey findings, visit: www.ethosplc.com

SKMC’s pathology labs receive CAP reaccreditation

Sheikh Khalifa Medical City (SKMC) in Abu Dhabi announced its Pathology and Laboratory Medicine Institute has been reaccredited by the College of American Pathologists (CAP) after an on-site inspection, reaffirming the Institute’s commitment to delivering service excellence at all times.

SKMC is managed by the Cleveland Clinic and is a SEHA Health System Facility. The Pathology and Laboratory Medicine Institute provides diagnostic laboratory services for SKMC patients, operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The Institute was the first diagnostic laboratory in Abu Dhabi to be accredited by the College of American Pathologists in 2011 for all services that it provides, and it was also reaccredited in 2012.

The CAP accreditation program is designed to maintain accuracy of test results and ensure accurate patient diagnosis, helping healthcare providers to deliver the highest standards of care for patients. Onsite inspections take place every two years using CAP accreditation checklists to ensure organizations are complying with the program’s requirements.

Private investment helps raise UAE healthcare quality

Private investment is helping drive the United Arab Emirates towards its goal of implementing international best-practice in healthcare by 2021, but the sector needs to work harder to attract and retain skilled staff, according to an Economist Intelligence Unit report commissioned by Abu Dhabi-based investment company Waha Capital.

In the report, called “Investing in quality”, senior executives in healthcare policy making, operational management and insurance provision in the UAE said growing private sector involvement and greater international accreditation are helping to lift quality standards markedly.

This should persuade more people to seek healthcare services in the UAE, rather than travelling abroad, which can result in much higher expenses for families – often a cost borne by government budgets. A Gallup survey in 2012 showed that two in five Emiratis had a preference for treatment abroad. “The UAE authorities have rightly pinpointed healthcare as a priority area for private investment, and the policy is clearly working to raise standards. It is very encouraging that global accreditation bodies such as the Joint Commission International are now highly active in the country,” said Salem Al Noaimi, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Waha Capital. “The nature of competition means that credibility and reputation are key, especially in highly sensitive areas such as personal health.”

He added: “As international best practice becomes common practice in the UAE, there will be no need to look overseas for care. This will not only alleviate pressure on government budgets, it will also enable patients to receive medical care and recuperate on their home turf amongst their families.”

Waha Capital is investing in the healthcare sector through its wholly owned subsidiary, Anglo-Arabian Healthcare Group, one of the fastest growing healthcare companies in the country in terms of assets.

While praising the improved climate for private investment in healthcare, the executives interviewed for the report pointed out two major challenges for the sector: human resources and varying regulations across the nation’s seven emirates.

The growth of private healthcare provision has increased the number of doctors and nurses in the country – with those in the private sector jumping by over 40% in 2012 alone, when seven new hospitals opened. But with the number of healthcare workers needing to rise by 50% over the next six years to meet government targets, staff turnover remains high, the report found. This is partly because many developing country practitioners use the UAE as a path to a career in Western Europe and North America.

The report found that private healthcare companies looking to expand across the UAE also find regulatory differences between emirates a challenge, particularly when it comes to licensing healthcare practitioners.

“The UAE provides an excellent environment for private healthcare providers, and experienced management teams have the opportunity to build scale and raise operating and clinical standards,” said Mark Adams, Chief Executive Officer of Anglo Arabian Healthcare Group.

“It’s clear that staffing is an issue for the sector, and it is up to operators to provide the right incentives to attract and retain skilled employees. However, I see this as a virtual cycle. As quality of healthcare provision rises, the UAE will be recognised by doctors and nurses as one of the most desirable places to work in the world, not a stepping stone.”


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