Afghan AIDS patients to get antiretrovirals

For the first time, people living with HIV/AIDS in Afghanistan soon will receive antiretroviral therapy from the government, the Ministry of Health announced recently, IRIN/ PlusNews reports. Forty of the 504 people diagnosed with HIV/AIDS in the country were selected to receive the drugs based on their medical status and need, among other criteria. It is suspected that there are an additional 2,000 to 2,500 undocumented HIV/AIDS cases nationwide.

Arab health ministers issue Riyadh Declaration

An emergency meeting of Arab health ministers in Riyadh was held on 16 January this year in an effort to assist the Palestinian people following the devastating bombardment by Israel of the Gaza Strip a the beginning of the year. The Riyadh Declaration was issued by the Arab ministers of health which included a number of points related to the health situation of the Palestinian people, including setting an Arabic plan for meeting future requirements in the occupied territories and Gaza Strip, formation of a committee for emergency Arabic health priorities and execution of a media campaign for obtaining worldwide support. The conference also called for co-ordination with WHO for prompt intervention and provision of necessary medical teams and supplies.

Saudi Bin Laden Group launches healthcare division

The Saudi Bin Laden Group (SBG), one of the largest construction companies in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Middle East, has established a Healthcare Development Holding Company (HDH) as a SBG division dedicated to develop the healthcare sector in Saudi Arabia and the region.

Wael Kaawach MD, MBA, Chief Executive Officer of HDH Company, said: “The company will strive to identify healthcare industry opportunities in the region – mainly the GCC countries – and match them with strategic partners both regionally and globally.”

HDH has set up four divisions:

● CARE-RTKL: hospital planning and design
● MedEx: hospital management and operation
● Focus Medical: specialty healthcare
● Jawda: Public-Private partnership projects

HDH has already launched Al-Bayt medical centre; a stateof- the-art multipurpose medical centre at King Abdulaziz endowment towers in Jeddah.

Other planned projects include an Orthopaedic Specialty Hospital in Jeddah. The company has signed agreements to manage the medical equipment planning and IT infrastructure of the National Guard, Saudi Arabia.

CEO for Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi

Cleveland Clinic, United States and Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Healthcare have appointed Andrew Fishleder, MD to the position of Chief Executive Officer of Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi.

Scheduled to open in 2011, the 360-bed multi-specialty hospital will be a unique extension of the Cleveland Clinic model. The hospital is a vital part of Mubadala Healthcare’s strategy to build an integrated healthcare delivery network.

Dr Fishleder was instrumental in the development of Cleveland Clinic’s Education Institute, which he recently led as its chairman. Dr Fishleder also served as Executive Dean of the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University.

DHCC adopts regulatory codes for complementary medicine

Dubai Healthcare City (DHCC) announced that its regulatory body, the Center for Healthcare Planning and Quality (CPQ), through its Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) Council, will start implementing CAM codes that were developed by USbased ABC Coding Solutions to further regulate and measure the outcomes of CAM procedures within DHCC. DHCC is the first healthcare institution outside the US to adopt the use of CAM codes.

Dr Ayesha Abdullah, Senior Vice President of DHCC, said: “The CAM codes have been adopted by the DHCC based upon our firm belief that this system greatly improves the entrance of CAM into conventional healthcare within our community. The recognition of ABC codes as standard tools in CAM practice is a significant milestone in realising DHCC’s vision as a centre of healthcare excellence in the region. DHCC is also participating in expanding the list of ABC CAM codes available to healthcare providers at DHCC.”

Dr Ayesha Al Mutawa, Vice President of CPQ, said: “There is an obvious need to regulate this market to assure quality and safety. CPQ is proud to be the pioneer in establishing a CAM governance structure which is unique to the region and to the world.”

Dr Al Mutawa explained that CAM codes will assist health insurance agencies in the UAE and across the region in recognising effective CAM services, facilitating clinical audits and validation, performance management, improvements, and research.

She said the ABC CAM code system is the only extensive code set available to describe procedures that are based on CAM treatments.

Dubai to host Human Genome Meeting in 2011

The Dubai-based Centre for Arab Genomic Studies will host the prestigious Human Genome Meeting in 2011, organised by the Human Genome Organisation. The Human Genome Meeting is a major international event for scientists in the fields of genetics and genomics. It is the first time that the meeting will be held in an Arab country.

Health check centres set to open across the Middle East

Philips Healthcare has announced that it will partner with University Medical Center Hamburg - Eppendorf (UKE) and the PRAGMA Group to build a series of health check centres across the Middle East.

Targeted at high-end market professionals the centres will provide a comprehensive health check-up including functional analysis of the heart and lungs and a full body magnetic resonance imaging scan, all carried out as part of a luxury hotel-like experience.

The first centre to open will be in the UAE with a further six centres planned over the next three years across the Middle East. UKE’s international arm, UKE Consult and Management will be responsible for the clinical management and operation of the centres. Philips will be the technology partner, equipping the clinics with advanced diagnostic and monitoring technology as well as lighting solutions. The PRAGMA Group is the project’s equity partner and management company.

UAE to draft AIDS legislation

The UAE is drafting a federal law on HIV/AIDS cases in coordination with the World Health Organisation, Health Minister Humaid Mohammed Obaid Al Quttami said in February.

“The new legislation will help fight the disease and facilitate integration of national AIDS patients into the community through strict measures,’’ Al Quttami said.

He said that 627 foreign AIDS patients had been deported from the country to date. Since 1985, 751 nationals have been infected with HIV, 565 of whom are still alive.

IMID underdiagnosed in region say experts

Medical experts believe Immune-Mediated Inflammatory Disorders (IMID) – a complex group of conditions including rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis psoriasis and Crohn’s disease – is under-diagnosed in the region.

They say that projections based on current IMID prevalence rates indicate that around 387,000 or more will have the condition by 2012 in the Gulf and, if the Levant region is included, the figure could rise to 1.2 million.

IMID affects about 5%-7% of people worldwide. The first regional conference for IMID took place in Dubai in January in an effort to set regional standards for IMID.

New medical city being developed in Makkah

Gulf News reports (17 December 2008) that Saudi Arabia will build the region’s largest medical city in Makkah. The first phase of the King Abdullah Medical City is already completed on an area of 850,000 sq metres. When the final phase is complete it will consist of three hospitals with a total of 1,500 beds – one 500-bed specialist hospital and another 500-bed maternity and children’s hospital. Makkah's 500- bed Al Nur Specialist Hospital will also be part of the medical city.

According to the Saudi Ministry of Health the hospitals will cover “all specialties with state-of-the-art facilities and highly advanced equipment”. The medical city will serve citizens, expatriates and Haj and Umrah pilgrims.

Dr Khalid Mirghalani, official spokesman for the Health Ministry, was quoted as saying the first phase of the specialist hospital will open with 100 beds in the second half of this year, offering several specialities such as a tumour centre.

According to the newspaper, following the completion of the medical city, the number of hospital beds in Makkah will be 2,780 – 200 at Hira Hospital, 500 at King Abdul Aziz Hospital, 350 at King Faisal Hospital, 100 each at Ajyad and Ibn Seena hospitals and 30 at Kamel Hospital.

QSTP signs with Biogem for post grad programme

Qatar Science & Technology Park (QSTP) and Biogem, an Italian biotech consortium, have signed an agreement that will see, in the first phase, a collaboration between Qatar University and Biogem where graduate students can do a Masters program in biotechnology conducted by Biogem.

In the second phase joint research projects will be established between scientists in Italy and Qatar. Projects could include studying the pharmaceutical properties of plants indigenous to Qatar such as the Sidra tree (ziziphus spina-christi). The projects will be principally funded by QSTP.

Dr Tidu Maini, Executive Chairman of Qatar Science & Technology Park, said: “We are looking to build completely new knowledge-based industries in Qatar, especially in bioscience, and we can really accelerate this by working with Biogem’s scientists. Italy has some of the world’s top biotech researchers and there is tremendous value in linking them with our bright young scientists to study Qatar’s vegetation.”

Dr Sheikha Al Missned, President of Qatar University, said: “International collaborations are central to our strategy for building Qatar University’s research programmes. Partnering with Biogem and QSTP means we can rapidly develop our young scientists while also becoming a biotech resource for other organisations in Qatar.”

Saudi plans to recruit 5,000 doctors

Arab News reports (2 February 2009) that the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Health is to recruit 5,000 doctors from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and other Middle Eastern countries to staff dozens of new and renovated hospitals in the kingdom.

Dr Khalid Al-Mirghlani, spokesman for the Ministry of Health (MoH) was quoted as saying that there was a demand for these health personnel in our 43 new and renovated hospitals in the kingdom.

He said the MoH recruitment plan was geared to serve the health needs of the kingdom’s increasing population. He added that general physicians, consultants, specialists and surgeons were required at hospitals across the kingdom’s 20 health regions.

Al-Mirghlani told the newspaper that the MoH planned to appoint a panel to travel abroad to recruit staff. Academic qualifications of new recruits would have to conform to the regulations and standards set by the Saudi Council for Medical Specialists, he said, adding that prospective candidates would be asked to sit tests prior to selection.

According to the newspaper the 43 new and renovated hospitals will house 4,270 beds, ranging from 50 to 400 beds at each facility. The hospitals are being built in Riyadh, Asir, Jizan, Hail, Tabuk, Al-Qassim, Al-Jouf, Al-Qurayat, Makkah, Madinah, Taif, the Eastern Province and Qunfuda.

Saudi’s largest HIS goes live

A Hospital Information System connecting Saudi Arabia’s Armed Forces hospitals has gone live, according the Arabian Company for Trade and Industrial System (Alcantara).

Alcantara is an exclusive agent for Nexus AG of Germany and the Swedish enterprise resource planning applications company IFS.

A spokesperson for Alcantera said: “The project is considered the largest electronic health system in Saudi Arabia. It aims to overcome the phenomenon of duplication and scattering of Armed Forces members’ medical files in their various locations.”

The fully Arabized system covers data on patients’ admissions, discharge and transfer systems, management of outpatient clinics, and patients’ registration, pharmaceutical and laboratories systems.

Saudi healthcare market forecast report released

According to a new report, “Saudi Arabian Healthcare Market Forecast to 2012”, the Saudi Arabian healthcare market is witnessing rapid growth and will continue to expand exponentially in future. Demand continues to outpace supply due to the kingdom’s rapidly growing population. This is considered to be a key driver for the market. The increasing incidence of a number of lifestyle diseases, such as obesity, diabetes and hypertension, is also expected to significantly boost healthcare spending in future.

Government plays a central role in providing healthcare services in the kingdom, accounting for around 75% of the total healthcare spending in the country. The government accounted for 67% of the total hospitals and 77% of the total hospital beds in the country in 2006. The government expenditure on healthcare, however, is increasing faster than its total income and as a result it may reduce healthcare spending in the future.

The report says that due to increasing pressure on the public healthcare system, the government is rapidly promoting the involvement of private healthcare in the kingdom. Large investment is expected from the private sector in the forecast period, and according to estimates, the private sector will account for 62% for all new beds installed during 2006-2012.

However, a slump in crude oil prices due to economic recession may dampen the nation’s economy, although the diversification of the country’s economy will help buffer this downturn. Despite some challenges such as shortage of skilled workers, dependency on oil and bureaucratic issues, the market’s future is expected to remain bright according to the report, with all three sectors – hospital services, pharmaceuticals and medical devices – expected to show sustained growth.

● The report is available from

Saudi MoH, MBC agree to ban tobacco ads

Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Health Dr Hamad bin Abdullah Al-Mane has received a letter of congratulation from WHO East Mediterranean Director General Dr Husain Al Jazairi on the occasion of the MoH agreement with the MBC Group, whereby the two parties have agreed to prohibit tobacco ads on MBC channels.

Hailing the achievement, Dr Al Jazairi said the agreement will be effective in reducing smoking among the new generation. “Media ads have a crucial effect on raising tobacco consumption among the youth,” he said. He said WHO has recommended in its report on tobacco this year that tobacco ads must be totally banned, adding that tobacco companies spend tens of billions of dollars yearly on tobacco propagation.

“An effective ban on all forms of tobacco marketing is a basic component of combating smoking,” he said. “Reports from the Arabic countries have confirmed that banning tobacco ads reduces smoking by 7% ,” he added.

Sharjah hospital signs MoU with Paris-based surgery

Sharjah Corniche Hospital and the International Institute of Ambulatory Surgery (IIAmbS), a specialist operator in general and laparoscopic day surgery, based in Paris, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding whereby French surgeons from the Paris-based surgery will visit the Sharjah hospital to perform surgery. The MoU will also initiate the exchange of healthcare resources and knowledge.

Apart from providing medical services the surgeons will also conduct CME programmes and training sessions.

The Sharjah Corniche Hospital is due to open in the first quarter of this year.

Toll free 800-CERVIX number launched in UAE

The UAE Ministry of Health (MoH) and Emirates Cervicare Network (ECN) have launched a dedicated toll-free number for cervical cancer information. Cervical cancer is one of the leading causes of death for women in the UAE.

The 800-CERVIX number enables callers to learn more about cervical cancer through automated voice information in English and Arabic.

Cancer of the cervix is the second leading cause of cancer among females in the UAE after breast cancer. According to the annual report published by the preventive medicine sector at MoH in 2005 and 2006, there were 43 deaths from cervical cancer and 100 deaths from breast cancer reported during that time.

UAE sets 10-year plan to fight diabetes

The UAE Ministry of Health (MoH) has proposed a 10-year plan to fight the diabetes epidemic among Emiratis.

According to the MoH, an estimated 23% of Emiratis are diabetic. This is the second highest prevalence rate in the world after the small Pacific island of Nauru.

Each diabetic patient costs the state Dh4,000-8,000 (US$1,000-$2,000) a year, taking the total annual costs to Dh200 million for treatment and related medical services, according to the MoH.

Health Minister Humaid Mohammed Obaid Al Quttami said the strategy would see the creation of a national diabetes committee to be made up of representatives of both government and non-governmental organisations dealing with the disease. The programme will contribute to bringing down the prevalence of diabetes as quickly as possible, he said.

The minister said the government plans to establish more state-of-the-art hospitals and health clinics across all emirates. Primary and secondary health services provided to diabetics will be improved.

There will be an evaluation of diabetes-related research. Community awareness programmes will be increased.

Emiratis will be encouraged to have regular screening for diabetes so it can be caught early and treated.

UAE to set up civilian field hospitals in Africa

The Emirates mobile hospital, the world’s first civilian field hospital, will be launched in three African countries – Morocco, Eritrea and Egypt – as part of its initial roll-out plan, Dr Adel Al Shamri, Executive Director of the Zayed Charity Initiative, which is managing the humanitarian medical initiative, announced in early January.

Dr Al Shamri said: “The launch will be made under a well-studied plan that caters for the needs of these countries over three years.”

Dr Al Shameri applauded the efforts being made by Lt.General H.H. Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Interior, for provision of medical and logistic support for the medical project.

“The project will highlight the UAE’s role in international humanitarian services and as a leader in reaching out to underprivileged populations and those in need across the world irrespective of their race or faith,” he said.

Dubai Health Authority asks physicians to reregister

The Dubai Health Authority (DHA) is currently in the process of reregistering all physicians in the emirate. The move is part of an initiative to create a single professional licensing and regulation organisation within the emirate.

In phase one of the programme physicians of Department of Health and Medical Services (DoHMS), Dubai Police and the private sector have been asked to collect their new registration login and password details which will enable them to access the new online application process established by the DHA health regulation team from 1 February. Each physician will need to complete this application form in order to secure a new license. Once the login details have been obtained, physicians have until the 31 March this year to submit their application forms to the DHA.

The DHA says this will help co-ordinate and drive the quality of care across the healthcare sector as well as creating a more transparent and accountable licensing process.

Other allied healthcare professionals, physicians of the Federal Ministry of Health and Dubai Health Care City will undergo a similar process in phase two of the programme, the details of which will be announced later this year.

The DHA says the new licence for those physicians who meet the new criteria will be automatic. Physicians who do not meet the criteria will also get new licences and will be asked to achieve the required criteria and undertake further training locally. Adequate time will be given for this, according to the DHA.

Dr Essa Kazim, the Director responsible for the health regulation programme at the DHA said: “This is an important process as the DHA looks to drive the quality of care that the public can expect. We currently have 10 licensing organisations in Dubai which does not encourage an efficient or effective regulatory process moving forward. In partnership with these authorities our responsibility is to help support the healthcare sector to deliver higher standards, creating a more transparent and accountable system in the process. This will encourage more interest and investment in the healthcare sector as we look to manage and develop the future growth in healthcare services and facilities across Dubai.”

Established in 2007, the DHA has been empowered to set policy and strategy for health in Dubai. The DHA implementation will be undertaken in phases and is due to be completed in 2012. In the interim DoHMS will continue to provide day-to-day medical services.

DHA Helpline

The Dubai Health Authority (DHA) has launched a 24/7 information helpline to provide round-the-clock information about the new DHA programme. The number is 800 DHA (800 342).

Director General of the Dubai Health Authority, His Excellency Qadhi Saeed Al Murooshid said: “The DHA has an ambitious programme for change in how Dubai manages, accesses and funds healthcare provision. This will affect everyone living and working in Dubai. This includes everyone working in the healthcare sector. It is important that everyone understands what they have to do and when.”

The DHA has also set up a number of email addresses to handle specific enquiries. These are: – DHA health funding enquiries – DHA health regulation enquiries – general enquiries – DHA careers enquiries – media enquiries.

Mysterious respiratory disease causes fatalities in Iraq

There have been number of fatalities due to an undiagnosed respiratory illness in northern Babil, Iraq, in January, according to a report on ProMed Mail. In a report dated 23 January, Hassan, the Chairman of the Commission Services in the Province, was quoted as saying, a mysterious disease, which doctors have not been able to diagnose so far, has spread in Babil province in the past few days. The regions of Al- Ghazali southeast of the province and the northern Babil Jurf al-Sakhar, have recorded a number of casualties from the disease. Doctors believe that a type of fungus infected the lungs and killed seven people five days after infection. ●

New children’s hospital planned for Dubai

The ruler of Dubai has ordered the establishment of a state-ofthe- art children’s hospital in the emirate. Al Jalila Bint Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Hospital for Children comes as a gift from Sheikh Mohammad on the occasion of his daughter Al Jalila’s first birthday on December 2, which coincides with the UAE’s 37th celebrations of the National Day. The goal of establishing the new hospital is to provide comprehensive secondary and tertiary care to children in the region, including the delivery of acute care services requiring specialised skills, technology and support services consolidated in a one delivery centre. According to the plans, the new hospital will have a 200- bed capacity.  


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