Rights of AIDS patients under spotlight in Saudi

In Saudi Arabia the National Society for Human Rights (NSHR) has called on HIV carriers who received unfair treatment from their employers or from the public to come forward and register their cases with the rights body.

The process is part of an initiative by the NSHR to gather information from HIVpositive persons on the sort of maltreatment they receive in Saudi Arabia due to their condition, according to a 2 January report in Arab News.

It was expected that legislation to protect the rights of AIDS sufferers would be introduced in March.

Mufleh Al-Kahtani, NSHR’s vice president, told the newspaper that in discussions with experts the following issues were raised regarding the proposed legislation:

● The establishment of a national AIDS centre to monitor and register cases and follow up on treatment

● Guaranteeing patient confidentiality except when requested by senior officials for specific reasons or when a spouse needs to be informed by a medical professional

● In the case of HIV-positive minors, parents must inform school officials

● Guaranteeing the right of HIV-positive Saudis to travel abroad

● Guaranteeing rights to education, employment and participation in athletic, political or other social activities


Sharjah professor creates innovative brain device

An engineering professor at the American University of Sharjah (AUS) has succeeded in developing a device that measures the percentage of brain damage resulting from a heart attack. The device, Electroencephalograph (EEG) Brain Rhythm Monitor, was developed after six years of research and in cooperation with Johns Hopkins University, US.

“When a heart attack occurs, the brain is usually deprived of oxygen and it is hard to measure how injured or damaged it is. Unlike taking someone’s temperature, where you know 37 is normal, or measuring the heart rate – 70 is the right number – there is no device that quantifies brain damages,” said Dr. Hasan Al Nashash, Professor of Electrical Engineering at AUS.

“Most of the time, doctors depend on experience and other methods to try determine how damaged the brain is. Even now Intensive Care Units in hospitals do not have a device that can provide accurate information and numerical data on that. The EEG Brain Rhythm Monitor, on the other hand, will do just that.”


Arab Children Health Congress ambassador highlights diabetes

The Arab Children’s Health Congress 2007 Ambassador, Habiba Malik Al Tawqi, completed the final leg of her tour of the Middle East in Dubai in January. The ambassador handed over the 2007 recommendations, aimed at tackling diabetes in the region, to HE Qhadi Saeed Al Murooshid, director general of the Dubai Health Authority and Dr Abdul Razak Al Madani, chairman of the Emirates Diabetic Association and director of Dubai Hospital.

The road show saw Habiba travel to Qatar, Bahrain and Dubai, where she handed over recommendations to local diabetes associations. On her return to her home country Oman she was expected to hand over the recommendations to the Oman Diabetic Association.

The 2007 key strategic recommendations, which were developed by leading global and regional healthcare professionals at last year’s Arab Children’s Health Congress, focus on providing clear and measurable proposals with the aim of affecting change in regional health policies related to tackling diabetes in the region.

Habiba was diagnosed with Diabetes at the age of two. She has undergone amputations to both legs and a kidney transplant as a result of diabetes related complications. Her experiences have allowed her to shed light on life with diabetes.

“I am extremely proud to have been elected as the ACHC Ambassador for 2007 and would like to thank the Congress for giving me the opportunity to speak about my experiences. It is important that children hear about my experiences and realise that when they are able to control the disease, they will be able to lead a happy and fulfilling life. It is my hope that these recommendations will see an improvement in the way diabetes is tackled across the region”, she said.

● The 2008 Arab Children’s Health Congress is scheduled to take place from 24- 27 March at the Dubai International Convention & Exhibition Centre. This year’s congress will focus on the theme “Healthy Body, Healthy Mind”. The purpose of the congress will be aimed at reviewing current policies, supporting the provision of better healthcare systems, helping children to make healthy lifestyle changes and to ultimately develop a bill of rights for children to improve their overall quality of life.


Fake drugs monitor to be set up in UAE

According to media reports the UAE is to establish a federal agency to combat the scourge of fake medicines. The national centre for the control and monitoring of counterfeit drugs, to be based in Dubai, will be the first of its kind in the country.

A committee has been established to provide standards for the centre and a common drug registry will be created to track the entry of all drugs into the country.

According to Arabian Business News the UAE has come under increasing pressure from international organisations and pharmaceutical companies to stem the flow of fake drugs that pass through its ports and free zones, with firms calling for tighter regulations on drug shipments.


Children’s cancer centre in Cairo installs info tech

The Children’s Cancer Hospital Foundation 57357 (CCHF) in Egypt has selected United States-based Cerner Corporation as the healthcare information technology provider for Children’s Cancer Hospital Egypt 57357. The hospital will use multiple “Cerner Millennium” solutions to help clinicians provide state-of-the-art care for an estimated 1,500 paediatric cancer patients each year.

CCHF was founded with a mission to care for paediatric cancer patients free of charge regardless of race, creed or financial status. The Foundation, which is funded by donations from the people of Egypt and philanthropists from around the globe, began building the region’s first paediatric oncology hospital in one of Cairo’s oldest suburbs in 2001. The hospital opened select areas in July 2007, treating more than 500 patients in its first four months of operation. A full grand opening is scheduled for the end of 2008/early 2009.


3 million infected with bilharzia in Yemen

The Yemen Observer reports (24 February 2008) that the World Health Organisation’s representative in Yemen, Ghulam R. Popal, said that there are 3 million Yemenis infected with bilharzia [schistosomiasis], inflicting human and economic losses on the country. He said 20% of patients are suffering serious illness that is likely to be fatal.

Workshops have been held in Sana’a, the capital, in preparation for a bilharzia eradication campaign that was due to begin in March. He said Yemen and Sudan were the only countries in the region still suffering from the disease, noting that other developing countries such as Egypt and Afghanistan had managed to eradicate it through awareness campaigns.

He noted that the bilharzia drug 'brazicontel' [praziquantel] has been approved by the WHO and has no side effects if taken properly. Using drugs in the eradication campaign changes the previous mechanism of shell collection and preventing children from swimming in pools, which was expensive, to one of giving the drug to children in the targeted age group of 6 through 18 years.

This age group represents 90% of the population infected with the disease. The aim is to break the bilharzia life cycle by there being no infected people who can contaminate stagnant water with the parasite. Bilharzia treatment and prevention costs Yemen about US$80 million each year.

The 2008 campaign will target 2 million children in 36 districts in Taiz, Haja, al- Dhalie, al-Mahwait, Abian, and Dhamar.


Kallmeyer appointed head of cardiology at DHCC’s Welcare

Dr Klaus Kallmayer, the chairman of the German Heart Centre at Dubai Healthcare City has been appointed director of interventional cardiology at Welcare and of all cardiology services at City Hospital, (DHCC).

When construction is complete later this year City Hospital is expected to offer a cardiology Centre of Excellence, boasting a state-of-the-art cardiac catheterisation lab. Dr Kallmayer said: “At City Hospital we are planning to establish a cardiology service of a quality unparalleled in the UAE. As required by DHCC, this must happen in affiliation with a major international centre and German Heart Centre Bremen, which is already physically present with a branch at DHCC, has been approached to lend its cooperation.

“Patients will benefit from the partnership as there will be regular transfers of input into the Dubai program through exchange and introduction of quality control mechanisms already in place in Germany.”

● In another development, Dr Kallmayer announced in February that the City Hospital will operate a 24-hour emergency heart centre to treat heart attacks, the first of its kind in the UAE.


US-Saudi breast cancer partnership launched

The Saudi Cancer Society, Susan G. Komen for the Cure – the world’s largest grassroots network of breast cancer survivors and activists – and the US Department of State has launched the ‘Course for the Cure’ programme in Saudi Arabia.

The programme marks a major milestone of the USMiddle East Partnership for Breast Cancer Awareness and Research in Saudi Arabia, which is uniting leading breast cancer advocates from Saudi Arabia and the United States to reduce breast cancer incidence, increase early detection, and work together to find the cures. In its initial phase, the Course for the Cure will be implemented in Riyadh, Jeddah, Qassim, and Dammam.

The course, which has been adapted by the Saudi Cancer Society for use in Saudi Arabia, is designed to prepare advocates to: objectively assess the breast health and breast cancer needs of their communities; recruit, organise, and retain volunteers; build breast cancer awareness and provide education options for their community members and raise the funds needed to carry out their objectives.

The Course for the Cure will help establish sustainable programmes that educate the public and save lives. The Institute of International Education is the implementing partner, working on behalf of Komen for the Cure to ensure quality design, training and follow-up activities.

Beginning March five training modules will be rolled out over the next five months and include sessions on Community Profiles, Volunteer and Organization Development, Awareness and Education, Fundraising, and Advocacy. Since the launch of the USMiddle East Partnership in the Kingdom in October 2007, the number of women receiving breast cancer screenings has increased dramatically.


UAE MoH leads coalition to fight obesity epidemic

In an initiative to take forward the fight against obesity in the UAE, a coalition of doctors, nutritionists and fitness experts under the leader of the Ministry of Health has launched the ‘Join the Movement’ campaign which aims to promote awareness of obesity and educate people how to combat it. The initiative will involve the distribution of guidelines for fighting obesity and the organisation of a variety of public events across the UAE to encourage fitness activities and educate people about the health risks of obesity.

Obesity is on the increase across all population groups in the UAE, according a spokesperson for JTM. Recent World Health Organisation figures say 73% of females and 66% of males are overweight in the UAE, placing the country in the top five worldwide in the obesity stakes. Obesity is considered a key risk factor for several other diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and female infertility.

UAE residents can call Abu Baker in Dubai on 04 282 6411 or 050 459 8635 for more information.


Rheumatoid arthritis network setup in Emirates

The UAE Ministry of Health, Abu Dhabi Health Authority, the Emirates Arthritis Foundation and the UAE Rheumatology Club, recently launched the awareness network – Women's Initiative for Rheumatoid Arthritis (WIRA).

WIRA aims to spread awareness about the dangers of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and the importance of early disease diagnosis to help prevent women from a possible lifelong disability.

It is estimated that the majority of women in the UAE who suffer from this debilitating disease are unaware of it. WIRA will disseminate information and hold lectures about RA to raise awareness among women.


DHA signs MoU with Dana Faber

The Dubai Health Authority (DHA) in early February signed a strategic Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Dana Faber Cancer Institute (DFCI), an affiliate of the Harvard Medical School and one of the principal cancer care and research establishments in the United States.

This is the third strategic partnership the DHA has established since it was created in June last year in an initiative to develop world class healthcare facilities in Dubai In November the DHA signed an MoU with the Joslin Diabetes Centre to develop Dubai’s first state of the art Diabetes Care Centre, and in January the DHA announced a contract affiliation agreement with the Harvard Medical Faculty Physicians (HMFP at BIDMC) who will assist the DHA with developing international healthcare standards in Dubai.

The DHA and DFCI are proposing to establish an extensive cancer care centre, capable of providing the best cancer treatments as part of a structured plan to improve services and facilities across Dubai. As part of this agreement DFCI will form an ongoing collaboration with the DHA in assessing the current cancer care facilities in Dubai as well as providing recommendations for the improvement in professional education, training and research.

The DHA and HMFP agreement will initiate strategic framework improvements in clinical computing, such as the expansion of the existing electronic medical record system; the establishment of clinical performance measurements; and an internal system initiating the set up of the Joslin Centre Diabetes programme. The agreement will also provide DHA staff, both medical and administrative, with the opportunity to improve competency levels through continuous training.


Dubai’s Belhoul to set up cardiovascular centre

Dubai’s Belhoul Lifecare will establish a cardiovascular surgery of excellence which will be staffed with surgical, medical and nursing teams from London’s worldrenowned Harefield Specialist Heart and Lung Hospital. Specialist cardiovascular and thoracic surgery teams will travel between Dubai and the UK on a regular basis.

Belhoul Lifecare comprises Belhoul Specialist Hospital, a 60-bed tertiary care hospital and Belhoul European Hospital, a private specialist day-care hospital. The centre will be led by renowned UK-based cardiac surgeon Dr Mohammed Amrani, a world expert in minimally invasive valve and coronary surgery.


University Hospital launched at DHCC

Dubai Healthcare City (DHCC in January launched the AED2.1 billion (US$570 million) stateof- the-art University Hospital as part of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Academic Medical Centre.

The University Hospital will function as the main tertiary care facility within Dubai Healthcare City (DHCC), reinforcing its status as an integrated centre of excellence for clinical and wellness services, as well as medical education and research. The institution will be located adjacent to the Harvard Medical School Dubai Center (HMSDC), Institute for Postgraduate Education and Research.

Physicians at the University Hospital will be granted academic appointments at HMSDC. The University Hospital will incorporate unique features including clinical strength through collaborative care, a state-of-the-art healthcare information system with electronic medical records, and a technologically-advanced complex for kidney and liver transplantation.

The University Hospital will offer a service mix consisting of inpatient and outpatient consultations and a full range of diagnostic, therapeutic and experimental modalities, surgeries, imaging, clinical and surgical pathology, minimally invasive procedures, and nontrauma emergency care. The 400-bed University Hospital will open its doors to patients in 2011.

The institution will be a part of DHCC’s Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Academic Medical Centre, which includes the Harvard Medical School Dubai Center (HMSDC), Dubai Harvard Foundation for Medical Research (DHFMR), Maktoum Harvard Library and Jumeirah Creekside Park Hotel.


DuBiotech research lab to open in September

The AED289 million (US$79 million) Nucleotide Complex, a state-of-the-art laboratory complex being developed at DubBiotech, Dubai’s Biotechnology and Research Park, will be operational in September.

Dr Abdulqader Alkhayat, executive director, DuBiotech, said: “The Nucleotide Complex will house the region’s first preclinical vivarium, a laboratory for animal testing, spread over 10,000 sq feet. This is the first time companies engaged in animal testing will have a facility dedicated to this type of research.”

All DuBiotech subsidiary laboratories located at the facility are required to follow GLP and ISO 17025 standards, while all laboratory activities will be strictly regulated by the DuBiotech Regulatory Affairs department.


Mosquito nets for malaria in Yemen

Yemen’s National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP) at the Ministry of Health on 15 January launched a national campaign to combat malaria in 15 out of the 21 governorates.

The campaign ran for 13 days and aimed to get the nation prepared ahead of the summer season when an epidemic is expected, according to an IRIN report. Adel Nasser al-Jassar, the NMCP general-director, told IRIN 381,138 mosquito nets were expected to be distributed in 95 malaria-infected districts.

“The mosquito nets will be given to citizens free of charge. They are effective and can last for five years,” al-Jassar said. Malaria remains a big challenge for Yemen's government and causes 800,000-900,000 cases a year, according to the Ministry of Health. In the second half of 2008, an additional 700,000 mosquito nets will be distributed in another campaign, according to al-Jassir.


Gulf Diagnostic Center

The Gulf Diagnostic Center Hospital (GDCH), one of the leading medical centres in Abu Dhabi, has inaugurated its new surgical department as part of an initiative to expand the services of its existing sections.

The new GDC Hospital will have various health facilities and services will include inpatient accommodation, an intensive care unit and an emergency department staffed with highly skilled physicians and supported by state-of-theart medical equipment.


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