WHO deplores attacks on health workers in Afghanistan, Sudan

The WHO issued a statement on 29 January deploring the recent attacks on health staff and health facilities in Afghanistan, Sudan and Yemen, and expressed deep concern about the serious implications of these attacks on patients, medical personnel and health infrastructure.

In countries where violence is ongoing, repeated and targeted attacks on health care workers and health facilities have severe immediate and long-term consequences on health systems and result in even larger numbers of people continuing to suffer illness or injury without access to medical care.

In the first month of 2015, incidents involving attacks on health care workers and health facilities continued to be reported.

In 2014, the International Committee of the Red Cross released a report documenting more than 2300 incidents involving serious acts or threats of violence against healthcare workers in 23 countries or regions between January 2012 and July 2014.

More than 90% of these incidents involve local health care providers. Attacks on or inside healthcare facilities represented 40% of all confirmed incidents. In many cases, hospitals and health centres were bombed, shot at or looted, which often resulted in extensive damage.

“WHO reminds all parties in countries experiencing conflict of their ethical and legal obligations to protect medical services under international humanitarian law. “The Organization calls on all parties and individuals to respect and protect the integrity of health systems, and assure the safety of patients, health workers and health care facilities,” the WHO said in the statement.

Abed Sabra appointed Country Manager for Roche UAE

Roche has announced the appointment of Abed Al Rahman Sabra as the new Country Manager for its pharmaceutical business in UAE. Moving from his current position in Lebanon, Abed will report to Ehab Yousef, Head of Middle East Sub-region 1. Effective from the 1 February, the new appointment underscores the company’s efforts to drive strategic growth in the pharmaceutical market of UAE. Roche is currently the market leader in providing innovative solutions across therapies a range of diseases like cancer, hepatitis, rheumatoid arthritis, anemia and transplantation.

Commenting on his new responsibility, Abed Sabra said: “Roche’s primary contribution to healthcare is to invent and develop medicines and diagnostic tools that significantly improve people’s lives. Our aim in UAE is for every person who needs our medicines to be able to gain access to and benefit from them. I will be working closely with the healthcare providers and institutions to ensure that patients with unmet medical needs are benefiting from our medicines.”

Al Jalila Foundation partners with Omniyat Dania to support children with cancer

The Dubai-based Al Jalila Foundation has formed a partnership with Omniyat Dania to support children with cancer.

Al Jalila Foundation is a global philanthropic organisation dedicated to transforming lives through medical education, research and treatment. Omniyat Dania was founded by Dana Al-Askari and Hasan Alami to honour the courage of their daughter who succumbed to childhood cancer at age 13. It is an ongoing campaign which welcomes volunteers to support regular hospital visits and, through this partnership, will also raise money to fund medical research.

Speaking at the announcement of the partnership, Dr Abdulkareem Al Olama, CEO of Al Jalila Foundation, said: “Investing in medical research today will help find the cures of tomorrow. Particularly for our children and our children’s children, medical research is essential in the sustainable development of healthcare in the UAE. Through the ‘Omniyat Dania’ campaign, Mr and Mrs Alami bring joy to suffering children while also benefiting future generations of children. We are humbled and grateful for their active involvement in making medical research in the UAE a reality.”

Dana Al-Askari commented: “The beautiful memory of our beloved daughter lives on through the work we are doing to support other children suffering from cancer. We can help make a difference now, with the help of selfless volunteers, by entertaining children in oncology units. We can all also transform the lives of children in future generations by supporting medical research today. We too are filled with gratitude to those who are helping – with their time or money – to help make the UAE a better place for our children.”

Donations can be made online through the ‘JustGiving’ website. www.justgiving.com/omniyatdania

DHCC signs academic partnership with Queen’s University Belfast

Dubai Healthcare City (DHCC) and Queen’s University Belfast signed a partnership to develop the Mohammed Bin Rashid University of Medicine and Health Sciences (MBR-UMHS) and its College of Medicine. The agreement will see Queen’s University Belfast assist in the development of the MBR-UMHS and the College of Medicine, including curriculum development, recruitment and selection of staff, and student selection and admissions. The UKbased institution has significant academic and professional expertise in all aspects of university management, governance and administration.

The College of Medicine is expected to open for applications in September 2015 with the first cohort of medical students to be welcomed in September 2016. Leading up to the launch, Dubai Healthcare City and Queen’s University Belfast will focus on course development, recruitment of high quality academic and professional service staff and the provision of the necessary infrastructure.

New Saudi German Hospital for Ajman

The Saudi German Hospital Group will build a new 300-bed hospital in Ajman, UAE. IHCC, a leading turnkey solutions provider that specializes in healthcare, education and mixed-use projects, announced the launch of the project in December last year.

IHCC will oversee the process from the design stage to the fit out for the one million square feet hospital, which is scheduled to open doors in 2017.

Yehia Behrawi, Business Development Manager, IHCC, said: “IHCC has been involved in the design and delivery of all Saudi German Hospitals in the region and we are delighted to have been selected yet again for the construction of the new Saudi German Hospital in Ajman that will offer access to quality healthcare for the people of Ajman.”

GE Healthcare, Al Qudra sign co-operation agreement


Al Qudra Holding, one of the leading investment companies in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, and GE Healthcare signed a collaboration agreement for the development of healthcare projects in Abu Dhabi and the broader Middle East region.

The agreement, signed in January, covers the planning, development, delivery and sustainability of key projects to which each partner will bring their respective expertise in financing, technology design and integration, asset management, training and continuous improvement initiatives including clinical leadership and management program. GE will serve as the key technology and solutions provider to Al Qudra. Projects are subject to separate agreements that will be announced by the partners in due course.

Commenting on the agreement, Khalifa Khouri, Al Qudra Board Member, said: “In line with Al Qudra’s commitment to driving sustainable growth of the healthcare sector, collaboration with reputed global players that can bring world-class knowhow, scale and capabilities to the region is key. Complementing government efforts across the UAE and wider GCC for essential healthcare services to meet the growing population demands, we are proud to partner with GE Healthcare in the codevelopment of projects that will further expand access to quality and affordable healthcare in the UAE and across the Middle East.”

Maher Abouzeid, President & CEO of GE Healthcare Turkey and Middle East, said: “Supporting public and private healthcare providers in strengthening healthcare services is central to GE Healthcare’s strategy of localization. To that end, GE Healthcare is pleased to have reached this critical partnership milestone with Al Qudra Holding and in the coming months we will work closely with our partner to further define the scope of these projects.”

India’s Medanta to build 250-bed hospital in DHCC

One of India’s leading healthcare providers, Medanta, will build a 250-bed hospital in Dubai Healthcare City (DHCC), it was announced in January. The new hospital is expected to open early 2017.

Medanta – The Medicity, established in 2009 in Gurgaon, adjoining India’s capital, New Delhi, holds the global distinction of performing the highest number of Living Donor Liver Transplants and the first Robotic Kidney Transplant.

Commenting on the initiative, Dr Raja Easa Al Gurg, Vice-Chairperson, Dubai Healthcare City Authority, said: “As Dubai steadily gains recognition for providing world-class healthcare and establishing itself as a medical tourism hub, we, at DHCC, have witnessed an increasing number of medical tourists year on year. Part of our strategy is the focus on high-quality, specialized healthcare. The establishment of Medanta at DHCC is an indicator of the strength of strategic partnerships and channeling of efforts to meet the demand for specialised medical treatments in the emirate and beyond.”

Dr Naresh Trehan, the world-renowned cardiac surgeon and the force behind Medanta – The Medicity, will be setting up the Dubai-based hospital as a venture between its holding company, Global Health, and a company promoted by India-based industrialist Ravi Jaipuria and Dubai-based businessman, Murari Jalan.

Philips Pathology Solution available in Middle East

Philips Healthcare’s Digital Pathology Solution is available for diagnostic use in the Middle East, including the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait, the company announced in January.

Pathologists are now able to leverage the connected solution for primary diagnosis of pathology cases, simplifying the slide archiving process and enhancing collaboration.

By digitizing the images pathologists normally view through a microscope, Philips’ solution offers high-quality digital images that can be easily stored and accessed from virtually anywhere. Slide storage costs and the availability of secure, physical space has become a growing concern as pathologists in the Middle East have faced stringent requirements to maintain robust slide archives dating back 10-15 years. With larger labs in the region examining up to 75,000 slides a year, the possibility of moving toward a purely digital archive offers significant potential to reduce spend and streamline workflows.

“Digital pathology solution aims to improve the pathologist’s workflow and diagnosis, by making use of very high resolution images and facilitating enhanced collaboration,” said Perry van Rijsingen, General Manager of Philips Digital Pathology Solutions

Harvard Medical School Center for Global Health Delivery
set up in DHCC

Harvard Medical School and Dubai Healthcare City Authority have signed an agreement to cooperate in establishing the Harvard Medical School Center for Global Health Delivery – Dubai.

The centre’s mission will be to increase local and regional health delivery research capacity in the UAE. The new health research and training centre will address some of the most pressing health challenges in Dubai and the region, expanding Dubai’s role as a global hub for scientific and policy discussions related to healthcare delivery.

Funding for the centre will be provided by a four-year grant from the Dubai Harvard Foundation for Medical Research. The new centre, directed by Salmaan Keshavjee, Associate Professor of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School and director of the Program in Infectious Disease and Social Change in the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine, will be based at the Mohammed Bin Rashid Academic Medical Center in Dubai Healthcare City (DHCC).

Speaking at the signing of the agreement in London in January, Raja Al Gurg, ViceChairperson of DHCC, said: “The work of the centre will support our long-term commitment to improving the health of all communities within Dubai and enhance our opportunities to lead the region in advancing health care research and delivery.

“The work of the centre will support our long-term commitment to improving the health of all communities within Dubai and enhance our opportunities to lead the region in advancing health care research and delivery.”

Jeffrey S. Flier, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine of Harvard University, commented: “We are privileged to partner with our colleagues in Dubai to generate best practices in global health delivery and transform these practices into improved health outcomes in Dubai, the region and the world.

“It is our hope that the new centre will catalyse health delivery research and spur innovative solutions that address significant health delivery obstacles.”

Alan Garber, Provost of Harvard University and the Mallinckrodt Professor of Health Care Policy at Harvard Medical School, said: “The scope of this project is broad, and its impact promises to be great. It will provide rigorous training for tomorrow’s scholars and practitioners. It will also conduct health delivery research, whose findings will influence global health practice as well as policy.”

The centre aims to strengthen the research environment in Dubai, the UAE and the region. It will also expand training capabilities for regional faculty and students.

WHO delivers emergency health kits to Iraqis under siege

To serve the Iraqi population that has been under siege for seven months and minimize the challenges they face in terms of limited access to health care and lack of life saving medicines, WHO delivered five basic units of Interagency Emergency Health Kits (IEHK) to Dhuluiya district in Salah Aldin governorate. The kits, delivered on Jan 8, contained medicines sufficient to cover the needs of 5000 people for three months.

These five WHO basic (IEHK) kits were part of the United Nations Interagency emergency response to the critical needs of Dhuluiya population who were inaccessible for seven months.

“The IEHK that WHO provided is part of the Joint UN response to an estimated population of 1200 families in Dhuluiya; WHO is here to save lives of people in critical humanitarian settings through delivering the much needed health technologies”, said Dr Jaffer Hussain, Representative and Head of Mission, WHO, Iraq.

Dr Jaffer added that, since August, 2014, WHO has delivered medical supplies for treating over 1.2 million people in Iraq, most of whom live in IDP camps and hard to reach areas.

Prominent Islamic scholars call for acceptance of polio vaccination

Prominent representatives from different regions of Somalia and the wider Islamic region concluded two days of meetings in the Sudanese Capital Khartoum with an agreement to form action groups in their respective areas that will seek to encourage and support polio and other immunization programs and to tackle barriers and misconceptions obstructing such vaccinations and other critical public health interventions.

The meeting, organized by the Islamic Advisory Group for Polio Eradication (IAG) in cooperation with the Federal Ministry of Health in Sudan, called for strong support to national and global efforts for polio eradication and vaccinations against childhood illnesses in Somalia. The call was made in a statement issued at the end of the meeting that has brought together Muslim scholars, officials, civil and community leaders and health experts from regions of Somalia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Pakistan.

The meeting’s Declaration urged Somali parents and community leaders to immunize their children against all vaccine-preventable diseases and reiterated that polio and other vaccines are safe, effective and fully conform to Islamic principles.

In his statement, Dr Ahmad Khaled Babiker, the Secretary General of the International Islamic Fiqh Academy, said: “Islamic scholars, Al-Azhar University, and the International Islamic University in Pakistan are united on the imperative of achieving polio eradication.” He urged Somali participants to build and spread awareness among their communities about immunizations.

Dr Hamed Abu Taleb, from Egypt’s leading Islamic institution Al Azhar said it was quite incomprehensible that some people “resist vaccination against a very grave disease like polio and other illnesses although it is an undisputed Islamic duty”. The leading Islamic Sharia professor emphasized that benefits of polio and other vaccinations were abundantly proven and that they were therefore mandatory for all Muslims.

WHO and partners develop regional plan to improve Ebola readiness measures

The third regional stakeholders’ meeting to review implementation of the International Health Regulations IHR (2005) concluded in Cairo, Egypt, on 13 January after over 130 participants from 17 countries in the region reviewed the progress countries are making in achieving the core capacities required under the IHR. The meeting also took into consideration recent findings of WHO assessment of countries’ preparedness and readiness measures for prevention and detection of importation of Ebola virus disease (EVD).

The WHO Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean, along with national health authorities, recently concluded, between November and December 2014, a rapid assessment of national health sector preparedness and readiness measures for EVD in 18 out of 22 countries in the region. The assessments were conducted in the six areas of: leadership and coordination; capacities to detect and isolate suspected cases at points of entry such as airport and sea ports; disease surveillance; infection prevention and control; laboratory; and risk communication. The findings were presented in the meeting and practical actions were proposed and suggested by countries on how gaps could be addressed in each of these functional areas.

“It is clear from the assessment that considerable work is required to improve the level of preparedness in the six areas. Countries have our full commitment of support to ensure that each country in the region is prepared and operationally ready for the detection, prevention and control of Ebola and any other emerging diseases,” commented Dr Ala Alwan, WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean.

A short-term operational plan addressing the six major areas was drafted and key activities for the next 90 days were identified in the meeting. These activities are to: develop/update national Ebola virus response plans; conduct a simulation drill to test the effectiveness of the national coordination, an event-based disease surveillance system; urgently procure and stockpile Ebola-specific personal protective equipment; establish and train an Ebola rapid response team improve safe collection, transportation and rapid shipment of samples for testing and diagnostic purpose; develop and drill a public health contingency plan for the designated points of entry; develop risk communications/social mobilization training curricula; and conduct training for stakeholders, journalists, community health workers, as well as volunteers.

The plan also highlighted the urgency of promoting awareness and ensuring high political commitment from countries for implementation of IHR core capacities in accordance with identified gaps, the strengthening of IHR national focal point capacity, and promoting cross-border collaboration for the sharing of best practices in the areas of managing and responding to acute and emerging health threats.

“Now that we have identified the important gaps in surveillance and response to the threat of Ebola, as well as in the core capacities required under the IHR, let us urgently move forward and rapidly address these gaps within the next 3 months. It is our collective and shared responsibility to prevent any threat to our health security,” said Dr Ala Alwan. The WHO Regional Director emphasized during the concluding session that implementation of the IHR should not be considered a health issue only. A comprehensive multisectoral approach is highly needed to strengthen linkages and tap synergies within and between countries to ensure preparedness for any possible importation of Ebola case in the Region.  

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