DHCC Dr Ayesha Abdullah receives L’Officiel Arab Woman of the
Year award

Dr Ayesha Abdullah, Managing Director of TECOM Investments’ Sciences Cluster which overseas Dubai Healthcare City has been honoured with the L’Officiel Arab Woman of the Year Award 2010 in the ‘Medicine’ category.

The L’Officiel Arab Woman of the Year award recognises the achievements of inspirational women operating in different domains including medicine, business, arts, fashion, media and charity.

Commenting on the award, Dr Abdullah said, “I feel honoured to be presented with this award. I am grateful to the jury panel and all the members who voted for me.

“This award is a result of the collective efforts of many wonderful people that include my family, colleagues and team members. The award will definitely motivate me further in my endeavour to take Dubai Healthcare City to greater heights and position it as one of the top destinations for healthcare.”

Within the past eight years, DHCC has grown into a cluster of over 90 outpatient medical centres and diagnostic laboratories, two JCI-accredited hospitals, as well as more than 100 commercial healthcare and retail services that follow stringent standards in healthcare delivery. The Center for Healthcare Planning and Quality (CPQ) is the regulatory body for DHCC responsible for monitoring and upholding international best practice in healthcare quality and patient care within the free zone.

Children the latest victims of Avian flu in Egypt

The three latest cases of human infection with avian influenza A(H5N1) virus were announced by The Egyptian Ministry of Health last month. A one-year-old male from Alexandria Governorate developed symptoms on 12 Jan 2010 and was hospitalised on 13 Jan 2011; a 10-year-old boy from Giza Governorate developed symptoms on 5 Jan 2011 and was hospitalised on 8 Jan 2011 and a 7-year-old male from Gharbia Governorate, developed symptoms on 20 Jan 2011 and was hospitalised the same day. All three boys are currently stable and investigations into the source of infection in each case indicated that all the patients had exposure to sick poultry. Of the 122 cases confirmed to date in Egypt since the onset of the disease in 2006, 40 have been fatal.

Breast cancer bank account

H.E. Engineer Zaid Al Siksek, CEO of The Health Authority – Abu Dhabi (HAAD) and H.E Mohammad Khalifa Al Qamzi, General Secretary for UAE Red Crescent have signed a collaboration agreement establishing a bank account to facilitate donations to combat breast cancer.

The account is dedicated to receiving donations from organisations and the public to combat breast cancer and came as a response to calls from the community to directly contribute to those affected by breast cancer. Money donations to the account will go towards supporting women with breast cancer during diagnosis and treatment. Further to this, it will be used to assist community needs with regards to breast cancer services, research and funding breast cancer support groups.

H.E. Engineer Zaid Al Siksek says: “Charged with the mandate to encourage, enable and enforce women, communities and healthcare providers to take action, HAAD set up a breast cancer programme to increase screening and reduce breast cancer mortality in 2007. The signing of today’s collaboration agreement serves as a strong indicator of the campaigns growth and success across the Emirate.”

Donations can be made into the following Dubai Islamic Bank account: Red Crescent UAE: 003520572169501.

‘Care on Wheels’ to screen 1,500 UAE diabetics

More than 1,500 diabetes patients across the UAE are to benefit from a new ‘Care on Wheels’ scheme which will see specialist doctors and nurses travelling to all seven Emirates to provide much needed screening for complications of the disease and education for local doctors on best practice in diabetes care.

‘Care on Wheels’, is being run by the Emirates Diabetes Society (EDS) in partnership with the pharmaceutical company Novartis. It will make 20 tours from March to December 2011, reaching the far corners of the UAE and stopping at as many primary care centres as possible.

The state-of-the-art bus will be equipped with the latest technology to screen already diagnosed diabetic patients for abnormal blood glucose levels, high blood pressure and damage to the eyes, kidneys and nervous system – all of which are complications of diabetes that increase patients’ risk of developing heart disease, stroke, renal disease, loss of vision and foot ulcers.

As well as screening diabetic patients, the endocrinologists on board will give educational seminars to general practitioners in a bid to improve on-going management and care of diabetes, which affects one fifth of the UAE’s population.

President of the EDS Dr Abdulrazzaq Ali Al Madani, CEO and Consultant Physician and Endocrinologist at Dubai Hospital, says: “Our aim is to boost the overall care of diabetes across the country by screening patients for complications of the disease and revising current management plans to offer better treatment and prevention of these life-threatening complications. Our doctors will also educate local GPs on the most up-to-date methods of diagnosing, treating and managing diabetes so that once the bus leaves the knowledge is in place for best care to be continued.”

‘Care on Wheels’ will be staffed by members of the EDS and associated nurses. A tour map and timetable for the scheme will be developed and disseminated to local primary care centres in the coming months.

Dubai Declaration on Diabetes adopted by healthcare leaders of MENA region

The ‘Dubai Declaration on Diabetes and Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases in the Middle East and Northern Africa (MENA) Region’ was adopted on 12 December 2010 as part of the MENA Diabetes Leadership Forum. The two-day forum united a multi-disciplinary group of over 500 regional and international experts and decision-makers from 22 countries and territories in the MENA region (Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Palestinian National Authority, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, UAE and Yemen).

Convened to find solutions to the overwhelming burden of diabetes for individuals and families, for healthcare and social systems, the Forum culminated in the adoption of the Dubai Declaration on Diabetes and Chronic Non- Communicable Diseases in the MENA Region. The “Dubai Declaration” lists concrete measures aimed at reversing the trend in diabetes.

The agreement, drafted by the UAE Ministry of Health, the Executive Board of the Health Ministers’ Council for the Gulf Cooperation Council States and the World Bank, commits each country to establishing a national strategy encompassing prevention, awareness, early detection and better quality of care.

Deploring the lack of such strategies in the region, Professor Dr Tawfik Khoja, director-general of the Executive Board of the Health Ministers’ Council for the GCC States, urged all of the signatories to implement the resolutions in the Dubai Declaration.

Dr Hanif Hassan Ali Al Qassim, Minister of Health of the UAE, stressed that “addressing this pandemic is urgent and important. Non-communicable diseases like diabetes will be a burden on the region’s economies.” He also called upon the establishment of a special committee at GCC level to monitor the implementation of the Declaration.

After this important first step, the challenge of implementation begins. Professor Khoja committed to taking the Dubai Declaration to the Arab League and reconvening in December 2011 to monitor the implementation of the Declaration.

Diabetes is sweeping the MENA region, affecting an estimated 26.6 million people, imposing overwhelming demands on the region’s healthcare institutions and excessive financial burdens on its governments. As alarming as this picture is, the number of people with diabetes is expected to double to 51.7 million people by 2030.

Emirates Diabetes Society to start course for healthcare professionals

Emirates Diabetes Society (EDS) has initiated an educational programme for diabetes healthcare professionals who are not physicians. The course will begin in May. The aim of the course is to enable healthcare professionals to provide better assistance to physicians in counseling and guidance around diabetes. The lecture and workshop-based course will provide training on topics such as patient counseling, nutrition and living with diabetes. This course will provide education for 75 participants and is scheduled to begin in the UAE. Participants must be employed by local health institutions treating diabetes and will be selected from different diabetes centres in the UAE and the Gulf countries, according to an EDS statement. The course is free for participants. This programme is run in partnership with the pharmaceutical company Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD).

40 % of children with GERD are misdiagnosed in UAE

A medical symposium warned that if Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is not correctly treated, it could lead to serious complications, such as inflammation in the esophagus, narrowing of the esophagus, ulcers and bleeding.

Dr Suleiman Nayyal, a Dubai based Consultant Gastroenterologist, has stated that in the pediatric group of between 7 and 12 years in the UAE, as high as 40% of the cases are misdiagnosed, he says: “GERD, if mistreated, may cause Asthma. Moreover, Asthma could be combated by treating paediatric groups for GERD. We are happy to start using Esomeprazole (chemical name) developed by AstraZeneca for the treatment of GERD in children ages 1-11 years. We are also prescribing this medicine to old people who cannot take pills.”

Dr Nayyal reveals that many paediatric groups in the UAE were misdiagnosed as Asthma, allergy and other diseases, when it is actually GERD. Symptoms of this disease include coughing, chest pain, flatulence and bloating.

Dr Dore SP, Consultant, Gastroenterologist, Al Zahra Medical Center says: “Recognition of GERD disease in the paediatric group (from 7 to 12 years old) is increasing. Earlier, GERD symptoms used to go undetected. There has been a dramatic increase in children who are carrying the disease, compared to ten years ago.”

The first step to treating children with GERD is to change their lifestyle, for example, sleeping position, diet and clothing. This should help to reduce the troublesome symptoms. Modifying diet such as restricting a child’s intake of carbonated beverages including fizzy drinks, caffeine, chocolate and spicy foods may reduce symptoms. High acid food such as citrus fruit (oranges) and tomatoes can aggravate GERD. Avoiding tight clothing that puts pressure on the stomach will also help to manage reflux disease in children.

Common clinical manifestations of persistent, recurring GERD symptoms in younger children includes vomiting, constant or sudden crying, poor weight gain, recurrent ‘wet burp, hiccup’ sounds, dysphagia, abdominal pain, heart pain and respiratory disorder. As children get older, the symptom pattern changes to become more similar to that of adults, including heartburn, acid belches, regurgitation, chronic sore throat, stomach pain and gastrointestinal discomfort. Extra esophageal symptoms such as chronic cough and asthma can also be associated by reflux disease.

HAAD to start screening for critical cyanotic congenital heart disease

The Health Authority – Abu Dhabi (HAAD), the regulative body of the healthcare sector in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, UAE, and the Children’s National Medical Center will rollout of a newborn screening program in Abu Dhabi for critical cyanotic congenital heart disease (CCCHD), the most serious form of congenital heart disease (CHD). Made possible by a long-standing relationship between HAAD and Children’s Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation, the programme aims to increase knowledge and skills in pulse oximetry, a non-invasive and cost-effective screening procedure that detects CCCHD in newborns. By using pulse oximetry, HAAD estimates that 10 Abu Dhabi children each year will be diagnosed with CCCHD and will receive treatment early enough to more effectively manage the condition.

New 3-in-1 antihypertensive drug available in UAE

Novartis has introduced a new three-inone multi pill – Exforge HCT – for hypertension in an attempt to improve patient compliance. Of the people taking medication to control hypertension only 38% have managed to lower their blood pressure to below target – 140/90 mmHg – according to data from the The Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology (PURE) study. Exforge HCT has been cleared for marketing in the UAE and is under review in other GCC countries.

According to the PURE study 41% of the UAE population between the ages of 35 and 70 suffer from hypertension. The world average is 30%, in itself a staggering figure.

“Hypertension, including pre-hypertension, is a huge problem in the UAE,” said Dr Azan Binbrek, consultant cardiology, Rashid Hospital, Dubai. It will have major repercussions in the future if not treated properly and lead to rapidly increasing cardiovascular, kidney and cerebrovascular disease rates, which are expensive to treat, he added. He explained that the PURE study showed only around half of the number of people who have hypertension in the UAE have been diagnosed. Only half of this group is being treated and only half of those treated are managing to control their hypertension through medication. The recommended target for blood pressure control is less than 140/90 mmHg.

The PURE study is a large-scale epidemiological study of approximately 140,000 individuals in more than 600 communities in 17 low-, middle-, and high-income countries around the world. The on-going study aims to address major questions on causation and development of the underlying determinants of cardiovascular disease in populations at varying stages of epidemiologic transition.

Dr Binbrek noted that hypertension is a major risk factor for cardiovascular, kidney and cerebrovascular diseases. It is a silent disease as there are generally no noticeable symptoms.

He pointed out three main reasons why there is poor control of hypertension in the UAE. First, there is insufficient blood pressure screening and education about the issue. Second, there is poor patient compliance with medication regimes, and third, the side-effects from medication in some cases make people quit taking the drugs.

Talking about the new pill, Exforge HCT, he said not only should it promote better patient compliance, but was also expected to be better tolerated. The new drug combines the antihypertensive medications: amlodipine, valsartan and hydrochlorothiazide.

● Ref: Teo K. et al. The Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology (PURE) study. AHJ. April 2009. doi:10.1016/j.ahj.2009. 04.019

New CEO of GE Healthcare MENA and Russia

GE Healthcare, the healthcare business unit of the global technology, media and financial services company General Electric Company (GE), has appointed Karim Karti as President and CEO of its GE Healthcare regional operations in the Middle East, Africa, Turkey, Central Asia, and Russia & CIS. The strategic management move in creating an independent region reaffirms GE Healthcare’s commitment to strengthening its presence and investments across these fast-growing markets.

From his base at the regional operations headquarters in Istanbul, Turkey, Karim Karti will play a leading role in strengthening GE Healthcare in these key emerging markets. He is responsible for developing and expanding customer relationships, as well as executing strategies to strengthen long-term public and private sector partnerships that will help transform healthcare delivery.

“Our goal is to reinforce GE’s continued commitment to provide world-class healthcare solutions and services to the region, and proactively identify new areas where we can make a difference. Supporting emerging markets is central to GE Healthcare’s global growth, and we are committed to significantly advance GE’s localisation efforts via infrastructure buildup and leveraging our strength in service capabilities across this dynamic region,” says Karti.

He adds, “Emerging markets are in need of innovative products adapted to its needs. It’s important to increase people’s access to healthcare technology – but healthcare benefits will only follow if that technology is relevant to solving local issues. Our focus is to locally tailor our innovative solutions and services and use them in a way that they become significant drivers of change. In this region, it’s about driving increased access, part of GE’s healthymagination initiative. Another key area will be to foster more collaborations with local universities and healthcare providers to design and develop innovative solutions that benefit the communities.”

Khalifa Foundation gives $150m to Texas cancer centre

The UAE’s Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Foundation is to donate $150m to a Texasbased cancer hospital in the biggest single donation of its kind. The Abu Dhabibased foundation, which is backed by the President of the UAE, will fund a cancer therapy and research centre at Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, the hospital president told the Houston Chronicle.

“The generosity of this family will help our efforts to realise the long-standing dream of treating a patient’s tumour based on its specific genetic abnormality rather than the experience of other patients,” hospital president Dr John Mendelsohn told the paper.

“It’s our hope that five years from now, thanks to research sponsored by this gift, we will be able to offer such personalised therapy as standard treatment for our patients.” The gift was in response to Anderson’s treatment of many UAE cancer patients over the years, Dr Mendelsohn says.

About $100m of the donation will fund the construction of a 600,000 sq ft facility on five acres of Anderson’s main campus. The remaining $50m will be split between the funding of pancreatic cancer research, institute equipment and clinical trials. The institute’s building will be named after HH Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the late president of UAE, who died in 2004. The institute itself will be named after HH Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the president of the UAE.

Kidney disease evident in 40% of UAE diabetes patients

More than 40% of diabetes patients show signs of diabetes-related kidney disease that can lead to end-stage renal failure and cardiovascular disease, according to medical experts attending the Emirates Endocrine Congress held in Dubai in December 2010. The comments follow research carried out in 2,455 Al Ain residents that looked at the prevalence of diabetes and its complications on a random sample of Emirati citizens. Results show that 41% of diagnosed diabetics suffered from microalbuminuria – protein in the urine caused by damage to the kidneys as a result of diabetes.

As concerning, say local doctors, is the study’s finding that 18% of the sample group who had undiagnosed diabetes were also found to have microalbuminuria. If left untreated the condition may progress to end-stage kidney disease that often requires treatment with dialysis, and increases the risk of cardiovascular disease that can result in heart attack and stroke.

Patients with microalbuminuria need to be placed on intensive treatment regimens to control their blood glucose and blood pressure within normal levels. This requires optimal use of anti-hypertensive drugs that lower blood pressure to the recommended level of <130/80 mmHg.The anti-hypertensive drugs of choice are angiotensinconverting enzyme inhibitors (ACE-I) and angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) which act in different ways on the body’s blood pressure controlling system to reduce the burden on the kidneys and improve their function. The drugs improve the heart’s function in the same way.

“The management of microalbunimuria is to treat aggressively with anti-hypertensive medications using different types of blood pressure drugs such as ACE inhibitors and ARBs to reduce the patient’s blood pressure to recommended levels,” explains Dr Ghaida Kaddaha, Head of the Diabetes Unit, Rashid Hospital, Dubai.

“These drugs also have a renal protective effect which means that we also use them in diabetic patients who do not have high blood pressure but are suffering from microalbuminuria. In some cases, and used in appropriate doses, this treatment can reverse microalbuminuria and in other cases it prevents the damage to the kidneys from worsening. The key to successful management is early detection and treatment,” adds Dr. Kaddaha.

Global best practice guidelines stipulate that all diabetes patients should be regularly screened for microalbuminuria as part of an annual health check. If patients are found to have the condition then they should have their urine checked every few months to monitor levels of protein.

Moorfields London director suggests increase in mobile diabetic screening

Moorfields Eye Hospital Dubai has had to adapt its techniques for treating diabetic eye disease, to allow for the greater level of complexity presented by diabetes patients in the UAE, compared to the UK, according to Declan Flanagan FRCS FRCOphth, Medical Director at Moorfields Eye Hospital London. He made these comments at a teaching session on diabetes related eye disease for Dubaibased medical professionals.

Moorfields London treats 20,000 Diabetic Retinopathy (DR) patients every year, and has taken steps to move screening and treatment closer to the patients and communities it serves, by opening centres in non-traditional locations, such as pharmacies.

“Forty per cent of our work is now done in 15 clinics in and around London,” said Flanagan, whose specialties include diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration. “Our message concerning diabetes is all about screening and this means greater mobility of screening which in turn leads to greater affordability for the health authorities. Our experience suggests that the diabetes effort needs to be joined up and led by individuals to create a multidisciplinary network within the community. Effective control of diabetes is the key to success and this begins with screening.”

Flanagan added, “There is a parallel between the health impact of diabetes and that of smoking. In the UK, it took a generation to make an impact on smoking and this was achieved through a focus on public information and awareness. The same applies to diabetes and we are just starting on the same path of creating awareness through strong public information campaigns. The UAE is well placed to quickly change awareness and attitudes within society, with its young and well educated population.”

Talking about the control of diabetes, Flanagan added, “Young diabetes patients can be a problem especially during the teen years, when the condition can be neglected and can ultimately contribute to premature death some 20 years later. Control of blood pressure in middle age makes a huge difference and can make eyes, kidney, and nerves last another 20 years. Once Diabetic Retinopathy is diagnosed, there is a 50% greater chance each year thereafter of a major health problem arising. Cataracts and glaucoma can be more of a problem in diabetics and Diabetic Retinopathy can also worsen dramatically during pregnancy.”

Mubadala Healthcare to open Capital Health Screening Centre

Mubadala Healthcare has announced plans to open a new medical facility in the first quarter of 2011. Capital Health Screening Centre, will provide standard infectious disease screenings for expatriates applying for and renewing their Abu Dhabi residency visas. This new facility will play a vital role in ensuring that Abu Dhabi remains a healthy city in which to live and work by providing these mandatory medical checks for the Emirate’s migrant workforce.

Capital Health Screening Centre will be located at Al Jazira Sports Stadium on Muroor Road – less than five minutes’ drive from the Department of Immigration on Al Saada (19th) Street. When operational, it will have the capacity to manage up to 300 visa applicants per day as well as providing the option of a premium service with a 24 hour turnaround on results.

The Centre will be operated by Singapore’s AsiaMedic Limited, specialists in disease prevention and early illness detection. AsiaMedic is already working closely in partnership with Mubadala to establish a wellness and diagnostic centre in Abu Dhabi, which is scheduled to open in 2012. New once-daily diabetes drug Novo Nordisk announced in January 2011 that Victoza (liraglutide), a revolutionary new treatment for type 2 diabetes, is now available in four GCC countries – the UAE, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain. Victoza is used once daily, irrespective of meals.

An important advance in diabetes treatment, Victoza presents four distinct benefits: It helps effectively control blood sugar; it reduces weight significantly; it reduces blood pressure and it improves the functioning of insulin-producing beta cells.

Victoza works with the body to lower blood sugar levels by boosting the release of insulin only when needed. These unique benefits result in good blood sugar control combined with a reduced risk of blood sugar levels dropping too low.

Beyond providing patients with an important new agent to control their blood sugar, Victoza also helps them lose weight significantly. Gaining weight is a side effect of some common treatments for type 2 diabetes, and additional weight increases the risk of obesity-related illnesses. Victoza marks a decisive step forward for people with type 2 diabetes, many of whom are overweight.

Studies have also shown that Victoza reduces systolic blood pressure (maximum blood pressure when heart contracts) and improves beta cell function, allowing for increased insulin secretion. These findings have been consistently demonstrated throughout the phase 3 LEAD (Liraglutide Effect and Action in Diabetes) trials. The LEAD studies were an extensive clinical development programme for Vicotza, involving 2,500 patients with type 2 diabetes in 40 countries.

New study confirms effectiveness of Leukaemia drug Tasigna

The UAE’s top specialists in the management of blood cancer have hailed the findings of a new study on the drug nilotinib (Tasigna) a leap forward in the treatment of adults who have been newly diagnosed with the blood cancer Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia (CML).

The results of the study of 846 patients in the early stages of a specific type of CML called Philadelphia chromosomepositive (Ph+ CML) were presented for the first time in the region at four medical symposiums in the UAE, Oman, Qatar and Kuwait which were held between January 14 and 18, 2011 just a month after the results of “Evaluating Nilotinib Efficacy and Safety in Clinical Trials of Newly Diagnosed Ph+ CML Patients” were first presented at the annual American Society of Haematology Congress in the US in December 2010.

Findings show that after 24 months patients who had been taking 300 mg of Nilotinib twice a day as a first line treatment for Ph+ CML were less likely to see their disease progress to more advanced stages, compared with patients on imatinib (Glivec) 400 mg once a day which is the standard treatment for the condition. Both medications are oral drugs made by Novartis Oncology.

Medical experts who attended the scientific symposiums said the results heralded a new era of treatment for blood cancers – giving hope to the 1,500 patients diagnosed with Ph+ CML in the UAE and across the Gulf. Globally, CML has an incidence of one to two new cases per 100,000 people every year and the median age of diagnosis is 55 years (CA Cancer Journal Clinical 56:106-130,2006.) “This new data is taking us closer than ever to reaching our goal of providing more comprehensive and effective treatment options for patients with Ph+ CML. It extends the evidence of the clinical benefit achievable with this second generation of drugs,” said Dr Jorgan Kristensen, Consultant Haematologist, Sheikh Khalifa Medical City, Abu Dhabi.

World expert in blood cancers, Professor Michael Copeman, Professor of Haematooncology at Northern Beaches Cancer Service, Sydney, Australia, presented the findings at the Novartis Oncology sponsored symposiums.

“We now have results on leukaemia patients treated for over two years with either Glivec or the new Tasigna. These results confirm that Tasigna is more effective in keeping leukaemia patients alive and does so with fewer side effects in more patients than Glivec. Most importantly, in 20% of patients treated with Tasigna for two years the leukemic cells were reduced to undetectable levels. It is too early to be sure, but we suspect that some of these patients will turn out to be cured, and this proportion is increasing each year,” he says.

“The creation and introduction of Glivec revolutionised the treatment of Ph+ CML and we are now even more encouraged by the new data for Tasigna showing that at 24 months it continues to surpass Glivec in slowing disease progression in patients with newly diagnosed chronic phase Ph+ CML,” concluded Dr Mohamed Abdel Raouf, Novartis Oncology Medical Advisor for the Gulf.

PACE Masterclass urges more aggressive cholesterol treatment

Patients across the Gulf who are at high risk of developing cardiovascular disease need more aggressive treatment for high cholesterol, according to medical experts presenting at the region’s first-ever Physicians Academy for Cardiovascular Disease Education (PACE) event held in Dubai from January 14-15, 2011.

Up to 180 doctors from across the Gulf attended the PACE Master Class which is run by three of the world’s most prominent cardiovascular experts; Professor John E. Deanfield and Professor D. John Betteridge from University College London, UK, and Professor John J.P. Kastelein from the Academic Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

As part of the two day event, delegates heard from local and international experts how the majority of patients in the region with high cholesterol are being successfully treated with statin drugs but that a small and important group of patients at high risk of suffering heart attack and stroke are not being treated aggressively enough.

“We are doing very well across the Gulf at treating patients with raised cholesterol levels who are at low and medium risk of developing cardiovascular disease but we are not doing such a good job with the high risk patients,” says Dr Wael Al Mahmeed, Past President of the Emirates Cardiology Society.

“There’s increasing evidence that using higher doses of statins has consistently resulted in not only lower cholesterol levels but also better cardiovascular outcomes in these patients. Doctors in the Gulf need to adjust their patients’ medications to take account of this,” adds Dr Al Mahmeed.

The overall goal of the PACE Master Class is to help physicians assimilate the proven findings of scientific research into the day-to-day practice of clinical medicine to help improve patient outcomes.

Qatar Robotic Surgery Centre

Qatar Science & Technology Park, Hamad Medical Corporation and Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar have collaborated with academics and surgeons from Imperial College London to form the Qatar Robotic Surgery Centre (QRSC).

Qatar Robotic Surgery Centre will provide a platform for technological development of medical robotics and promote clinical application of the technology in the Middle East, acting as a demonstration platform for advanced surgical technologies with state-of-the-art equipment, laparoscopic simulators and 3D tele-cast capabilities. QRSC will also offer a broad range of robotic training programmes for surgeons, healthcare professionals and scientists, and stimulate technology development in medical robotics.

The Centre will incorporate live demonstrations as well as live-link training sessions, promoting the transfer of expertise between Imperial College in the UK and Qatar. Tasked with delivering this Virtual Reality environment were Technomight Qatar WLL, and to deliver the broadcast-quality projection required in the two principle immersive environments they turned to Christie’s Mirage HD6 stereoscopic projectors as part of a 3D visualization solution.

Essentially the facility consists of two active 3D theatres and a Tele-Mentoring room. The main active 3D theatre contains a Christie Mirage HD6 6000 ANSI lumens HD 3D projector, with active stereo capability, firing onto a 2815mm x 1454mm curved screen via HD projection zoom lens 1.4-1.8:1 HD (SXGA+ 1/5-2:1) and Twist module. The screens are painted with high gain acrylic emulsion to achieve the optimum brightness. The second Robotics Theatre has a similar specification, although the screen measures a smaller 2393mm x 1454mm.

Operating in active 3D, the Mirages themselves are mounted in specially built enclosures in the ceiling (not visible from the outside). Up to 20 trainees can be immersed in either of the two environments. A special Lightspeed Design passive to active converter includes DepthQ®Capture and DepthQ®Player for high definition stereoscopic media.

The room occupants wear active LCD shutter glasses from Real D CrystalEyes eyewear and; the eye glass shutters are synced in high speed by a long range wide angle IR emitter in the ceiling, which in turn is synced by the Christie projectors.

The theatres are to be used primarily for training purposes, each connected via a high bandwidth video conferencing system, operable in three different modes. Jan Nuyens, head of the QRSC explains, “The theatres can be used as immersive 3D sessions where students/trainees are present, while live surgery from anywhere in the world can be screened live into the QRSC facility. Alternatively a surgeon can perform simulated surgery, which students can witness in 3D. And finally students can perform in the Doha theatres on a plastic dummy while expert surgeons can guide them from a remote location.”

Two SEHA HealthSystem facilities merge to offer foetal neuro clinic

A partnership for parental counselling and medical intervention in pregnancies has been formed by Corniche Hospital, which is managed by Johns Hopkins Medicine International; and by Sheikh Khalifa Medical City (SKMC), which is managed by Cleveland Clinic. The monthly clinic, located at Corniche, is the first of its kind in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi to offer multidisciplinary services of experts in prenatal medicine. Corniche Hospital and SKMC are part of the SEHA HealthSystem and are owned and operated by Abu Dhabi Health Services Company PJSC (SEHA), which is responsible for the curative activities of all the public hospitals and clinics in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.

At the Foetal Neuro Clinic, mothersand fathers-to-be will have the opportunity to discuss pregnancy, labour management and postnatal care with Dr Gowri Ramanathan, obstetrician and foetal medicine specialist at Corniche Hospital; Dr Andrew Meeks, head of neonatology at Corniche Hospital, and Dr Dominic Venne, head of neurosurgery at SKMC.

Clyde Eder, Chief Operating Officer for SEHA states, “Based on the population demographics of the United Arab Emirates, around 60 babies are estimated to be born annually with spina bifida, of which most of them will require an urgent surgery to save and improve their lives. SKMC‘s and Corniche Hospital’s new Fetal Neuro Clinic will help us meet the needs of a large number of these children affected in the UAE.”

Dr Tej Maini, CEO of SKMC says, “Currently, a large number of babies born with congenital spinal defects in the UAE who are in need of surgery are operated in SKMC by Dr Dominic Venne and the neurosurgery team. With this multidisciplinary clinic, we aim to centralise the care of babies with spina bifida which leads to an improvement in the outcome and quality of life of these children. They will also enter a larger “Spina Bifida Program” which has been in place since 2002 at SKMC.”

Dr Dominic Venne adds, “Babies requiring neurosurgery will be scheduled for urgent procedures at SKMC even before birth. This recent concept is extremely important since surgeries performed early after birth can improve the prognosis or can even save the life of these babies. These procedures include insertion of shunts (for hydrocephalus), cerebral endoscopy, and closure of the spinal defect.”

SEHA implements Health Maintenance system

Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (SEHA) has implemented a new module in its electronic medical system (Health Maintenance system) which focuses on chronic disease management besides healthy individual screening within the population of emirate of Abu Dhabi.

The Health Maintenance System alerts medical staff on the status of preventative care expectations for any specific patient beside treatment standards required to maintain the chronic disease conditions of the patient. The system is able to track care given to patient in all over SEHA facilities and update the providing doctor with their current status of prevention test which is require for early detection of diseases in a healthy individual .

It also builds on their disease management status across all SEHA facilities in the case of chronic diseases as diabetes, hypertension, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary and coronary artery disease. The system then provides patient-centric reminders for medical staff on the disease status and its management for a more holistic healthcare approach.

“The Health Maintenance System upgrade is yet another step towards this goal. It allows medical staff to stay constantly aware of possible conditions a patient may be suffering from, or may be at risk for developing abnormalities in their sugar, cholesterol, weight status in order to provide primary prevention from disease likes diabetes, hyperlipidemia, morbid obesity, osteoporosis and various cancer diseases. The module gives our Ambulatory Health Services (AHS) physicians the tools to proactively alert, monitor and document disease management and health screening programs for adults,” says Donna McCormick, Enterprise HIS Program Manager, SEHA.

Dr Abdulhadi Amer Al Ahbabi, Chief Operations Officer, Health Operation Department - Ambulatory Healthcare Services states: “At SEHA and SEHA HealthSystem Facilities, our goal is to provide all our patients with the best healthcare available. We are continually reviewing opportunities to develop ways to improve the patient experience. The implementation Health Maintenance System is a great success at Ambulatory Healthcare Service clinics and it is already showing results, facilitating disease management for physicians and as a result improving the quality of patient care.”

Best Practice for Vaccine Facilities Workshop held in Bahrain

The Executive Board of the GCC Health Minister’s Council hosted a workshop on ‘Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) Regulations for Vaccine Units’ in Manama, Bahrain on January 11, 2011. The programme, being held under the patronage of His Excellency Dr Faisal AL Hamar, Minister of Health, Kingdom of Bahrain, ran for two days.

The workshop, organised by Stratgurus Management and Marketing Consultancies in collaboration with The Center for Professional Advancement, and supported by an unrestricted educational grant provided by Pfizer Inc., reviewed current GMP regulations for Vaccine Units and discussed compliance with CGMPs during aseptic processing of vaccines, special concerns and strategies. It enabled regional regulatory authorities to update their knowledge of the GMP regulations for vaccine units, establishing and upgrading a larger pool of inspections in their countries.

The advances made in vaccination in recent years have delivered remarkable contributions to public health. Induction of immunity was brought up years back as a means of intervention and prevention of infection. Successful progress achieved over the years has helped in eliminating a range of serious diseases. Immunisation, routinely used to protect infants and children from infectious diseases, is also used to protect adolescents or adults. Considered to be one of the most costeffective health investments, immunisation can relieve health-care systems of considerable financial load.

Yet, the involvement of live organisms and their specific handling requirements necessitates the establishment of vaccine facilities that conform to global good manufacture practice standards. Compliance with Good Manufacturing Practice is crucial in minimising the risks involved in vaccine production. All stages of vaccine manufacture are detailed and controlled through written procedures and systems to support the execution of GMPs. Principally, GMPs are not static and continuous improvement of processes is assured.

Healthcare authorities ensure compliance with GMP regulations through inspections that are conducted to analyse the status of a vaccine unit including operations, production, quality control and quality assurance. Needs for improvement are determined and reported to ensure compliance with regulations. These regulations impact all manufacturers of vaccines who sell products in the GCC.  


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