50 doctors complete residency training in SEHA medical facilities

Fifty doctors, the majority Emiratis, completed their residency period of training in Abu Dhabi Health Services SEHA medical facilities as part of SEHA’s annual training.

Dr Ali Abdul Kareem Al Obaidli, Group Chief Academic Affairs Officer Corporate Academic Affairs of the SEHA, handed over certificates to the graduate doctors who participated in the session. The doctors practiced at Sheikh Khalifa Media City, Mafraq, Tawam, and Al Ain hospitals.

At the awards ceremony, Rashed Al Qubaisi, Executive Director of SEHA said that those doctors who completed their residency training in the SEHA hospitals will have a prominent role in the future of Abu Dhabi health care. He added that SEHA’s goal behind the residency programs for physicians is to increase the number of Emirati doctors working in the health sector in Abu Dhabi.

Report claims Average Age of Death in MENA up by 30 Years

A recent report (The Global Burden of Disease: Generating Evidence, Guiding Policy, Middle East and North Africa edition, 2013) notes that over the past 20 years the average age of death in the Middle East and North Africa region has increased by up to 30 years. In addition to this, overeating now causes more health issues than hunger, with chronic diseases such as diabetes rising due to high blood pressure, poor diet, smoking and lack of physical activity. Findings of the paper were presented at the Arab Health Exhibition & Congress in January.

Globally, people are living longer than ever before, the population is getting older, and the decline in child mortality and the number of people around the world is growing. However, living longer does not mean that people are living healthier, they are simply living to an older age but are experiencing more ill health.

“The data has clearly shown that the Arab world has made dramatic progress in reducing mortality and prolonging life. Over the last 20 years, premature death and disability for most communicable, newborn, nutritional, and maternal causes have decreased, with the exception of HIV/AIDS,” said Dr Ali Mokdad, Director of Middle Eastern Initiatives and Professor of Global Health at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, and co-creator of the report.

“Despite these improvements, a substantial disease burden from contagious communicable, newborn, nutritional, and maternal causes persists in the low-income countries of the Arab World.” The inspiration of the report came from the understanding that policy makers lacked comprehensive and standardized data on diseases, injuries and potentially preventable risk factors for decision-making. While trends in the MENA region were largely consistent with global patters, certain non-communicable diseases were much more prominent causes of premature death and disability in the region compared to the world as a whole.

Medical university and teaching hospital to be built at Dubai Silicon

Oasis Dubai Silicon Oasis (DSO), the integrated free zone technology park, in January announced its plans to host a hospital and medical university project developed by Saudi Arabia’s Dr Soliman Fakeeh Hospital (DSFH), in an effort to contribute to academic advancement and extend quality medical services to support the local healthcare industry.

The agreement was signed at the DSOA headquarters by Dr Mohammed Al Zarooni, Vice-Chairman and CEO of DSOA, and Dr Mazen Fakeeh, President and Chairman of the Board of Dr Soliman Fakeeh Hospital. Estimated to be built at a cost of AED1 billion (about US$272 million) across 150,000 square metres, the project titled ‘The University Hospital’, will be constructed in two phases. The hospital is expected to be completed by mid-2017, followed by the medical college in 2019. The DSO-based hospital is expected to create 4,000 new jobs.

The 300-bed teaching hospital will focus on family healthcare and patient-centred services, targeting the growing community of residents in DSO as well as neighbouring areas. The hospital will be equipped to offer secondary and tertiary medical services supported by comprehensive diagnostic centres. It is expected to cater to around 700,000 patients per year, with an estimated 40,000 admissions and 20,000 surgical operations.

The proposed hospital will also function as a full-service medical institution, provisioned with centres of excellence in medical and surgical sub-specialties; mother and child health; cardiology and spine surgery; plastic and cosmetic laser surgery, as well as obesity management. Named after its patron institution, the Fakeeh Medical University has been designed to complement the new hospital’s unique academic care delivery setup and will be equipped with cutting-edge technology and state-of-the-art medical care simulation facilities.

Fakeeh Medical University will partner with local universities, including the Rochester Institute of Technology in DSO; American University of Sharjah; Al Ain University and Dubai Academic City, to help foster collaboration among medical students, researchers and clinical care providers.

The University Hospital, along with the Fakeeh Medical University will look to offer theoretical and practical instruction in varied fields, including medicine, nursing, laboratory sciences, radiology, physiotherapy, dentistry, clinical pharmacy, as well as health policy and management. The project will also include a research and development centre for basic sciences in order to develop medical innovations and best practices in the region.

Commenting on this agreement, Dr Mohammed Al Zarooni, said: “The move to host the hospital and the medical university in DSO is in accordance with the directive of His Highness Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to develop the medical tourism industry in the emirate. The initiative is also a step forward in the implementation of the strategy of the Executive office to make Dubai a hub for medical tourism.”

“Recent statistics shows that the number of medical tourists receiving treatment is estimated to increase by 15 per cent each year. Additionally, healthcare spending in the UAE is expected to reach AED40 billion by 2015, while medical tourists are set to cross the 20 million mark for the same period.”

Dr Mazen Fakeeh, President and Chairman of the Board of Dr Soliman Fakeeh Hospital, said: “In our long-standing experience with healthcare services in Saudi Arabia, we have seen, experienced and treated various illnesses that are peculiar to this region. Our guiding motto is to utilise and impart the knowledge gained over the years in the field to bring about a marked improvement in health services for residents here. By extending our reach to Dubai from our new premises at the high-tech park, we hope to provide our quality healthcare to a wider cross-section of GCC residents.

“We have taken special care to optimally design the hospital for the convenience of patients. Our trained staff is qualified to provide the best in quality treatments across a range of specializations. As one of the few teaching hospitals in the UAE, we hope to train and enhance the supply of healthcare professionals, who can take their rightful place in the country’s medical resource pool,” Dr Mazen added.

Medtronic relocates regional HQ to Dubai

Medtronic, a global medical technology company providing therapies to treat cardiac and vascular diseases, diabetes, neurological and spinal conditions, announced in January that it will relocate its regional Middle East and Africa (MEA) headquarters to Dubai.

The company will relocate all its regional operations to TECOM Investment’s DuBiotech. DuBiotech is a freezone dedicated to facilitating and fostering growth of the life sciences industry in the United Arab Emirates.

The company said in a statement it has selected Dubai for its infrastructure, accessibility and its strategic location as a gateway to other markets in the MEA region.

Saudi Aramco, Johns Hopkins Medicine in joint venture

Saudi Aramco and Johns Hopkins Medicine on January 28 this year inaugurated a first-of-its-kind health care joint venture in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. The new company, Johns Hopkins Aramco Healthcare Company, was due to begin operations on February 1.

Saudi Aramco is a fully integrated global energy and chemicals enterprise in Saudi Arabia and Johns Hopkins Medicine is a leading US academic health system with extensive experience in healthcare delivery worldwide. The healthcare joint venture will bring together Saudi Aramco’s long established health care delivery system and its approximately 350,000 beneficiaries and the world-renowned clinical, educational and research expertise of Johns Hopkins Medicine. Johns Hopkins Aramco Healthcare will deliver high-quality health care to Saudi Aramco’s employees and their families.

“This partnership will result in a comprehensive transformation to further enhance our healthcare standards, and marks the beginning of a new level of care with new lines of treatment, new and enhanced specialties and subspecialties. It will also enable new forays into research and medical education as well as create opportunities for education and training of medical staff,” said Abdulaziz F. Al-Khayyal, Senior Vice President of Industrial Relations at Saudi Aramco.

Johns Hopkins Aramco Healthcare is expected to fuel clinical innovation, serve as a model in the provision of health care and contribute to the development of the health care industry in alignment with Saudi Aramco’s commitment to enabling growth, opportunities and diversification within the Kingdom’s economy.

On a broader time scale, Johns Hopkins Aramco Healthcare will seek to improve population health through scientific innovation, clinical care, and training of clinicians, nurses and health care professionals.

“Together, we will be greater than the sum of our parts, because this joint venture combines Saudi Aramco’s existing health system with the transformative science, clinical care and education that Johns Hopkins is known for,” said Paul B. Rothman, M.D., dean of the medical faculty and CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine. “Johns Hopkins Aramco Healthcare will become an incubator for clinical and scientific progress and will address some of the region’s most pressing health challenges, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes and other chronic conditions, which are on the rise worldwide.”

Mafraq Hospital publishes region’s first Atlas of Hematology

At the 5th Annual SEHA Research Conference held in Abu Dhabi recently, SEHA (Abu Dhabi Health Services Company PJSC) honoured Mafraq Hospital’s Senior Medical Laboratory Technologist, Mohammad Kazemi, for publishing the Middle East’s first ‘Atlas of Hematology’. Mafraq Hospital is owned and operated by SEHA.

The Atlas of Hematology includes four parts: red blood cells series, white blood cells series, megakaryocytes series and blood parasites. It contains 201 high-quality coloured illustrated blood slides which cover almost all morphological abnormalities of blood cells and pathogen blood parasites. The book also includes normal reference ranges, differential diagnosis, comparison tables and troubleshooting.

The Atlas has been acknowledged by the Higher College of Technology (HCT) as a resource of teaching for a profession in medical laboratory students. “This reference serves as an excellent resource to supplement and complement the theoretical training component of preparing students for a profession in Medical Laboratory Technology (Hematology),” said Dr Kathleen Meehan, Associate Dean – Health Sciences at HCT, Abu Dhabi.

The Atlas of Hematology has been compiled and edited by Mohammad Kazemi. Commenting on the initiative, Kazemi said: “This Atlas is the result of collaborative efforts. It is part of Mafraq Hospital’s ongoing efforts to improve healthcare services and standards in Abu Dhabi. To that end, our objective was to gather our collective experience and put together trusted and practical content for medical students, researchers, physicians and paramedical professionals locally, as well as internationally.”

International meeting in Doha looks at latest research in cancer immunotherapy

Sidra Medical and Research Center in Doha and the Society for the Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC) hosted the “Updates on Immunotherapy of Cancer and Immunoscore” event in January, with leading authorities in oncology and immunotherapy traveling to Doha to share the latest research on novel cancer treatments, which use the body’s own protective response.

Immunotherapy uses the immune system’s T-cells to find and kill cancerous cells while avoiding the damage to healthy tissue commonly caused by many of the current forms of treatment, such as radiation therapy, chemotherapy and surgery.

“Our immune system is elegantly structured to recognize self from non-self, vigorously attacking cells deemed foreign. The goal of cancer immunotherapy is to understand these mechanisms and to promote anti-tumour immune responses. Genetics and disease risk assessment will be one of the Centers of Excellence at Sidra and we look forward to continuing our relationship with SITC and other international institutions in the immunotherapy arena to bring personalized treatments to patients,” said Sidra’s Chief Research Officer and SITC President, Dr. Francesco Marincola.

Speakers debated the latest research advances, focusing on currently approved and emerging tumor immunotherapy approaches, as well as the latest country updates on the initiative Immunoscore, which is an effort to change international practice around cancer prognosis for patients.

The Immunoscore initiative advocates incorporating immune scoring as a prognostic factor and introducing this parameter as a marker to classify cancers as part of the routine diagnostic and prognostic assessment of tumours. As such, SITC, with the help of lead investigator Jérôme Galon, PhD from INSERM’s Cordeliers Research Center in France, initiated a worldwide task force to validate this practice.

Dr Galon pointed out: “This is the first worldwide effort to introduce a standardized immune test into cancer classification. This is a novel paradigm for cancer with major implications for immunotherapy.”

Sheikh Khalifa Medical City awarded ISO 20000 for IT Service Management

Sheikh Khalifa Medical City (SKMC), the flagship institute in Abu Dhabi’s SEHA’s healthcare system, has been awarded ISO/ IEC 20000-1:2011 (ISO 20000) certification, the highest international standard for IT service management.

The hospital was awarded the accreditation following a rigorous auditing process carried out by the British Standards Institution (BSI) to ensure that SKMC’s IT service management systems operate to the highest possible standards.

“Obtaining this certification is a reflection of our commitment to on-going improvement, knowledge sharing and innovation within SKMC. This is the result of the great teamwork of all colleagues in the IT department as well as the support from SEHA. It is with great delight that we accept the prestigious certificate from BSI, which further consolidates our efforts to enhance the quality of services we provide,” said Ahmad Yahya, Acting Chief Information Officer at SKMC.

ISO 20000 is the first global standard that specifically targets the IT Service Management with an integrated set of management processes for effective delivery of services. The standard adopts a process approach for establishing, implementing, operating, monitoring, reviewing, maintaining and improving an organisation’s IT Service Management System.

Sharjah’s Al Qassimi Hospital performs first cochlear implant

A five-year-old girl underwent a lifechanging surgery in late January at Al Qassimi Hospital in Sharjah to treat her deafness, in cooperation with Sharjah City for Humanitarian Services (SCHS).

Mozan, a Sudanese national, was one of two patients to undergo the Dr Karsten Suhre cochlear implant surgeries, which officially launched the cochlear implant program at the Al Qassimi Hospital. Dr Abdulla Ibrahim, Head of ENT Department at Al Qassimi Hospital said: “The cochlear implant surgeries performed are a major step forward for Al Qassimi Hospital to offer severely hearing impaired and deaf patients an attainable chance to successfully regain their hearing.

Expanding our ENT Department and offering the latest technology of hearing implants in combination with the highest quality standards in surgery and aftercare will position Al Qassimi as one of the leading hospitals in the UAE, and the region, to perform successful cochlear implant surgeries.”

Mozan received a Concerto cochlear implant from MED-EL, one of the world’s leading providers of hearing implant systems. The device directly stimulates the hearing nerve. It is the world’s smallest titanium cochlear implant, which makes it perfect for children.

The surgery was performed in close cooperation with Prof. Dr. Abdulrahman Hagr, a leading surgeon from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and he added: “The surgery for Mozan took less than two hours and was performed only after comprehensive testing to ensure that this cochlear implant is the perfect choice for Mozan. The surgery was minimally invasive and full recovery usually takes only a couple of days.

As with Mozan’s case, the earlier the surgery is performed on a child, there is a better chance of success in regaining or activating their hearing. The longer the patient waits, the rate of success decreases because the most critical period for speech and language development is in the early years of childhood.”

Researchers at WCMC-Q and HMC discover new quick test for diabetes

A discovery by researchers at WCMC-Q and HMC could lead to a quick, non-invasive screening test for diabetes, allowing sufferers who don’t know they have the disease to access treatment quicker. Currently, doctors test for diabetes using either blood or urine analyses. But these are inconvenient and not suitable for a comprehensive public screening program as they generally have to be carried out by a nurse or doctor.

Now researchers at Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar (WCMC-Q) and Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) have discovered a way of testing for diabetes using a swab of an individual’s saliva.

The discovery means that samples could easily be taken in schools or sports associations, or even during regular visits to the dentist, making the implementation of diabetes screening programs – and thus early intervention - much more viable. Dr Karsten Suhre, Professor of Physiology and Biophysics at WCMC-Q, said it is vitally important to diagnose patients who have diabetes as early as possible to allow them to access treatment, and the saliva test is one way of expediting that.

The researchers have discovered that people with diabetes have a reduced amount of 1,5-anhydroglucitol (1,5-AG) in their saliva. This is a substance similar to sugar. Scientists have long known that 1,5-AG can be used as a biomarker for diabetes in blood but the discovery by WCMC-Q and HMC enables a test for it to be done via a simple swab of the mouth, which greatly increases its potential importance as a quick, noninvasive test for diabetes.

The study was conducted by researchers in Qatar and involved 369 people, approximately half of whom were Arabic, and half Asian. It is the first time that a new research technique called metabolomics has been used in a diabetes study of this size on saliva, plasma, and urine samples in parallel. The study was due to be published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

Agfa workshop highlights new imaging, clinical information tech

Agfa HealthCare recently held a workshop in the United Arab Emirates to highlight new technologies that enable healthcare providers to view multidisciplinary image information by unifying the patient record across departments and create a true longitudinal patient-imaging record.

Mike Reagin, CIO of Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi (CCAD), presented the significant technical challenges of a modern multi-site healthcare organization and explained how they were able to build a highly advanced medical imaging network.

They are able to do this with Agfa’s ICIS (Imaging Clinical Information System), an enterprise clinical IT platform that provides a comprehensive view of multidisciplinary patient imaging records. It unifies the patient record across regions, facilities and departments, creating a true longitudinal patient-imaging record, and allows data sharing across hospitals, whether or not the same vendor delivered their individual PACS.

Jean-Pierre Slabbaert, Agfa Health- Care’s Director of Information Technology for the Export region, remarked: “The ICIS technology enables healthcare providers to create, collaborate, exchange, and manage a comprehensive medical imaging record through the continuum of care. It is a solution that lets hospitals go beyond the borders of a single, individual department, enhancing care collaboration.”

The Agfa-Gevaert Group, headquartered in Mortsel, Belgium, is one of the world’s leading companies in imaging and information technology. Agfa develops manufactures and markets analogue and digital systems for the printing industry (Agfa Graphics), for the healthcare sector (Agfa HealthCare), and for specific industrial applications (Agfa Materials).


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