HIV/AIDS conference highlights need to educate

A conference was held in Lebanon to discuss the need to introduce an HIV/AIDS awareness programme to the
school curricula.

The seminar in Broummana emphasised the fact that, although cases of HIV/AIDS were lower in the Middle East than in other parts of the world, it was important not to get complacent.

UNESCO also fears that the HIV virus is now not only being imported into Arab countries, but that it is also spreading from within.

About 400,000 people in the Middle East have HIV or AIDS and it is thought about a fifth of these contacted the virus last year.

Medical college will be a first

Saudi Arabia is to get its first private medical college. Construction work should begin shortly and the college, to be built in the Asir Region, should be operational by 2003.

The college will operate in tandem with a 400-bed hospital already existing next to the proposed site. The Saudi German Hospitals Group (SGHG) hope the facility will provide the best teaching facilities in the Middle East.

>> The SGHG recently held its popular Summer Training Programme for more than 130 medical students, a
record amount of trainees handled by a hospital in the kingdom.

Students, who gained 60 hours of top medical tuition, came from Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Egypt and the UAE.

Breast cancer awareness programme in Qatar

Health experts are to visit secondary schools for girls in Qatar as part of a campaign to warn of the dangers of breast cancer.

The campaign, organised by the Supreme Council for Family Affairs, aims to create an awareness of cancer, particularly in the breast, among teenagers and young women.

The students will be told of the causes and effects of the disease.

They will also be encouraged to undergo regular medical check-ups.

Historic Kuwait-Bahrain kidney swap proves to be a success

A health co-operation agreement involving Kuwait and Bahrain has resulted in a kidney being transported between the two countries for the first time.

The kidney, obtained from a brain-dead patient with a very rare blood type, was flown from Kuwait to be successfully transplanted to a Bahraini citizen.

The first organ exchange to take place in the Middle East was between Kuwait and Saudi Arabia more than five years ago.

Kuwait and Bahrain recently agreed to co-operate with each other within the area of kidney transplants.

Kuwait orders drugs ban

The Ministry of Health in Kuwait has withdrawn 17 drugs used in the fight against flu and colds.

The action was recommended by the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA), as it claimed all 17 contained phenyl propanolamine, which can trigger strokes.

Middle East hospital isolates enterovirus 71

A hospital in Saudi Arabia has successfully isolated a dangerous virus that can cause meningitis.

The Virology Lab at Dr Soliman Fakeeh Hospital in Jeddah used technologies such as Polyclonal Polymerisation Chain Reaction (RTPCR) and Immunofluorescent Assay in order to confirm the diagnosis of enterovirus 71.

It is thought to be the first time a hospital in the Kingdom has been able to isolate the dangerous virus.

New evidence suggests healthy lifestyle can prevent diabetes

Countries in the Middle East – a region with a high rate of diabetes – could gain hope from a new study.

The four-year study carried out in the US concluded that the onset of diabetes can be delayed and even prevented if people live a healthy lifestyle. The study involved using more than 3,000 patients. Those that had healthy diets and regularly took exercise were clearly at an advantage of keeping the disease at bay than those who did not.

Innovative brain surgery is used for the first time

Brain surgery without opening the skull has been performed in Saudi Arabia for the first time.

A team of surgeons at the Saudi German Hospital in Jeddah were forced to use innovative radiosurgery on a middle-aged woman, as traditional surgery would have been too dangerous.

The patient had meningeoma and the tumour was compressing her optic and occulomotor nerves. It was close to the cavernous sinus, so the chances of damaging the optic and occulomotor nerves were high.

Doctors believe it was the first time a patient in the Kingdom had been treated in this way. The radiosurgery was a success and could now open the way for the further treatment of brain tumours in this manner.

Health issues discussed at conference

A leading UAE hospital teamed up with a leading UAE newspaper to promote health awareness in the country.

Doctors from the Al Zahra Hospital and elsewhere discussed a variety of subjects at a public seminar in Dubai, organised by the Khaleej Times.

Talks at the Gift of Good Health Conference focused on subjects of particular concern in the region, such as cardiac problems, obesity and diabetes.

Chief guest was Shaikh Faisal bin Khalid Al Qasimi, Chairman of the Al Zahra Hospital.

Weight of new-born baby shocks doctors in Egypt

Doctors in Egypt were stunned when an overweight woman gave birth to a baby weighing 7.5kg.

The baby was immediately placed in an incubator because of breathing difficulties caused by its abnormal weight.

The mother was 118kg, but medical staff at the hospital said they had not witnessed such a heavy new-born baby before.

The average baby usually takes seven months to reach this weight.

Medical experts predict new-born babies will become bigger in future due to the growing number of cases of obesity throughout the Middle East. The region has one of the worst obesity problems in the world.

New courses to prepare pharmacists for work overseas

Pharmacists in the UAE could get the chance to fulfil their dream of working in the United States thanks to a new agreement involving a top US university.

There are many trained pharmacists in the UAE who wish to work in the US, but they have to pass the Foreign Pharmacy Graduate Equivalency Exam (FPGEE) before they can do so.

Now Dubai-based company Gateway Health Services LLC is working with the Purdue University in Indianapolis to prepare pharmacists in the UAE for the compulsory FPGEE exam. The company will be running five-month training programmes with this aim in mind, as well as offering pharmacists the chance to study for their Doctor of Pharmacy degree in the UAE.

New hospitals will serve the capital’s increasing population

Jordan’s long-awaited King Abdullah Hospital – which will take some of the pressure off existing hospitals in Amman – will be operational by the beginning of next year. The final touches are being made to the much-needed specialised medical centre, based in Irbid, which will serve the northern part of the Kingdom.

Patients from this area will no longer have to be sent to Amman and the hospital will also receive patients from other countries in the near future. Staff will be recruited from both the private sector and Royal Medical Services.

The newly-opened Jamil Totanji Public Hospital in Sahab – which will serve some 500,000 people – should also alleviate the pressure on Amman’s largest public hospital, Al Bashir. It will care for people in the eastern part of the capital. The Princess Basma Teaching Hospital, located in Irbid, will also relieve some of the pressure from established medical centres in Amman.

The Queen Rania Hospital in Wadi Musa should also be operational by the end of the year. The need for more health services in the capital is obvious, as Amman’s population rose to 1.9 million last year, compared to 1.8 million in 1999.

New teleradiology equipment

The UAE Ministry of Health is moving ahead with plans to provide its hospitals with a teleradiology service.

The project involves the radiology departments of hospitals being linked through a computer network. The first four to benefit are the Al Jazerah and Beda Zayed in Abu Dhabi and the Qasimi and Khor Fakkan in Sharjah. Other hospitals throughout the Emirates will eventually join the network.

One of the advantages of the scheme is that it will help overcome the problem of shortage of radiologists in the country, as radiology technicians will be able to transfer x-ray photographs between hospitals.

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