New DHCC appointments

Dubai Health Care City (DHCC) has a new person at the helm. Following recentrestructuring initiatives at Dubai Holding subsidiary Tatweer, of which DHCC is a corporate entity, the former CEO of DHCC, Dr Muhadditha Al Hashimi, has been appointed Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Tatweer Dubai. Dr Ayesha Abdullah, who has been appointed Senior Vice President of DHCC, will now take over the reins of this organisation. Dr Ayesha Al Muttawa has been appointed Vice President for the Centre for Healthcare Planning and Quality (CPQ).

Thousands die from smoking in Saudi

Some 13,544 people in Saudi Arabia have died this year as a result of smoking, according to statistics published by the Saudi Charitable Society to Combat Smoking.

Arab News quoted Adel bin Saad Al-Khofi, supervisor of an anti-smoking campaign launched online by Arab Volunteering World in cooperation with the Saudi Charitable Society to Combat Smoking, as saying that 500 million people were expected to die from cigarette smoking by 2030. Referring to a report by the World Health Organisation and World Bank in August 2000 he said “about 70% of these deaths are expected in the Arab world as a result of direct or passive smoking”.

Dr Muhammad Al-Baddah, supervisor of the anti-smoking programme at the Saudi Health Ministry, said cigarette smoking in the kingdom was growing rapidly. He said the value of cigarette imports in the country grew to SR1.7 billion (about US$450 million) in 2005. He estimated the total economic losses caused by smoking at SR25 billion in five years from 2005 to 2010. The majority of Saudi smokers who took part in a recent survey said they started practicing the unhealthy habit as a result of the influence of friends. Some participants (8.4%) said it was the family atmosphere that made them smokers while 5.9% blamed work pressure for smoking. The survey showed that the majority of smokers in the Kingdom are unmarried young men and women with onethird of them being students.

42% of 17-year-old males smoke in the UAE

Health professionals are calling on smokers in the UAE to quit the deadly habit, saying residents are not taking the risk of disease seriously enough.

According to a recent study conducted by the World Health Organisation (WHO), the number of people, particularly men, smoking tobacco in the UAE has increased.

The study suggests 24% of males aged between 13 and 15, and as many as 42% of males aged 17, are currently smoking tobacco. The study revealed 20% of the UAE’s male population smoke, while nearly 3% of adult females are smokers.

Additional health promotion that addresses the cultural, social, and environmental influences of smoking are required, and will empower the community to take control of their health says Dr Ahmed El Hakim, Director, External Affairs and Policy for Pfizer Middle East.

“The UAE's public sector is already engaged in quit smoking campaigns that encourage people to care for themselves and others, understand the risks of smoking and seek support. These campaigns will eventually break down the barriers that are stopping our nation from achieving optimum health,” added Dr Hakim.

Tobacco smoke, high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure, physical inactivity, obesity and diabetes are the six major independent and preventable risk factors for coronary heart disease. The WHO has stated that tobacco smoke is so widespread that it is considered “the leading preventable cause of disease and deaths”.

In support of the global stop smoking campaign, the UAE Ministry of Health has approved the registration of Champix, an effective prescription drug treatment for breaking the cycle of tobacco addiction.

40% of children in Qatar have diabetes

Qatar’s The Peninsula reports that an alarming 40% of children in the country suffer from diabetes. The newspaper quotes Dr Abdullah Al Hamaq, Executive Director, Qatar Diabetes Association (QDA) as saying a study by the Supreme Council for Family Affairs found that “in Qatar, 40% of children are suffering from diabetes I and II”.

Sharoud A Matthis, Programme Manager, QDA said: “Lifestyle is the main reason for this alarming rise of childhood diabetes. Unhealthy food habits, less exercise and also sometimes presence of a genetic factor all propel diabetes in the young.”

The QDA in collaboration with Detroit Medical Centre, Children’s Hospital of Michigan and the International Diabetes Federation was due to hold an international conference on diabetes in children in Doha in October. The conference is expected to lead to a number of diabetes awareness initiatives in schools.

Afghan polio vaccination drive hampered in south

Afghanistan’s Ministry of Public Health (MoPH), backed by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) lead a major immunisation campaign to vaccinate 1.8 million under-fives against polio between 21 and 23 September.

The vaccination campaign coincided with International Peace Day on 21 September which health workers believed would give them access to communities in the volatile south, where insurgency and counter-insurgency-related violence has increasingly impeded aid and public service delivery.

Agence France Presse (AFP) reports that some 190,000 children could not be vaccinated due to Taliban-linked violence in this region, despite pledges by the Taliban to not attack or hinder the thousands of vaccinators, most of them volunteers or health workers.

Most of these children were in the southern Helmand and Kandahar provinces and could not be reached because of obstruction or fighting, UN spokesman Jamil Danish told reporters.

The UN said they planned another major vaccination campaign for October and again called on the Taliban to leave health workers out of their fight.

Meanwhile, IRIN reports that a joint evaluation by the MoPH and WHO found that polio had virtually been eradicated in the relatively calm northern parts of Afghanistan.

“In the past three years no polio case has been reported in the 10 northern provinces,” said Abdullah Fahim, spokesman for the MoPH, owing to successful immunisation drives.

However, in the south 16 polio cases have been reported this year and seven were confirmed there in 2007, according to UNICEF.

WHO workers killed in Afghanistan

The WHO Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean has issued a statement expressing their deep sorrow for the tragic death of the two WHO polio workers and their driver who were killed by a vehicle-borne suicide bomb in southern Afghanistan while providing humanitarian assistance.

“It is tragic beyond words that their dedication to a humanitarian mission should have ended in the loss of their lives” said Dr Hussain Gezairy, Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean.

WHO also condemns the unjustified attack targeting civilians working only for the people of Afghanistan.

Dr Mamoon Taher Taheri, polio technical officer, Dr ShamsulHaq Kakar, assistant polio officer and Azizullah Almas, the driver of the UNAMA (United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan) car, were en route to prepare for a vaccination drive in the Spin Buldak district near the border with Pakistan when their convoy was hit Sunday 21 September, UN Peace Day.

“We will never forget those whom we have lost, who set an example of courage and devotion; working under very difficult circumstances in security compromised areas in Afghanistan and seeking every possible opportunity to reach and vaccinate children living in the areas of war and civil strife in the cause of polio eradication” said the Regional Director.

Jeddah hospital automates laboratory operations

Dr Erfan-Bagedo General Hospital (EBH) in Jeddah has installed Cerner’s Millennium PathNet solution to automate the managerial and operational aspects of its laboratory to provide faster, more accurate lab services to the more than 1 million patients it serves each year.

“By implementing the Cerner Millennium PathNet solution at our hospital, we will be able to improve safety and efficiency in the laboratory,” said Dr Mohamed Ahmed Erfan, EBH Chief Executive Officer.

Saudi looks to privatise healthcare sector

The Financial Times reported early October that Saudi Arabia intends to privatise a large part of its healthcare sector.

Dr Manar Al Moneef of the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority told the newspaper that the Saudi authorities planned to privatise or outsource the management of all existing 218 government-owned hospitals.

The current system whereby the government finances more 75% of the healthcare services industry “was unsustainable given population growth projections, as well as spiralling healthcare costs”, Al Moneef was quoted as saying.

According to the report another 2,000 hospitals and clinics are under construction and these facilities would be placed under the administration of a Ministry of Health fund. This could then be privatised or outsourced.

The move is part of a trend in the region as ministries of health move toward playing the role of regulator rather than provider of healthcare services.

Noor Dubai aims to treat one million blind people

HH Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, launched a new Ramadan initiative, called ‘Noor Dubai’. The initiative aims help the World Health Organisation (WHO) and International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) achieve its goals outlined in VISION 2020: the Right to Sight.

Noor Dubai will treat and provide health services to one million people suffering from treatable blindness and visual impairment in developing countries on a local, regional, and international scale.

The Dubai Health Authority is in charge of implementing the Noor Dubai agenda in collaboration with two leading international organisations: Lions Clubs International, the world’s largest volunteer organisation in 202 countries, and ORBIS International, a global development organisation whose mission is to treat and prevent blindness by strengthening the capacity of local eye health partners.

In addition to the UAE, Noor Dubai will extend to people in a number of countries including Iraq, Afghanistan, Mali, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Pakistan, Ethiopia, Bangladesh, Egypt, Jordan and Palestine.

Through its programmes, Noor Dubai will help people suffering from three major eye diseases: cataract, which is the leading cause of blindness worldwide affecting 18 million people and representing 48% of the total number of blind people; strabismus which affects more than 5% of children worldwide; and corneal opacities which are responsible for some 4.9 million people losing their sight.

Meanwhile as part of the Noor Dubai initiative Moorfields Eye Hospital Dubai announced in late September that the Dubai branch of the 200 year-old Moorfields London eye hospital, had treated its first patients under the initiative.

The first patient was an Iraqi woman with dense mature cataracts in both eyes; a bilateral cataract surgery was performed successfully by specialist consultants at the hospital at Dubai Health Care City. The first patient was followed by several other patients from across the region – Syria, Jordan, Oman and Sudan.

Pat Simons, Chief Nurse, Operations Manager at Moorfields Eye Hospital Dubai, said: “Moorfields has successfully performed cataract or glaucoma surgery on these patients, some of whom were as young as five years old. We are delighted to be supporting Noor Dubai, which is an inspirational initiative.”

Emirates charity assists Palestinian cancer patients

The Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum for Charity and Humanitarian Establishment, provided cancer medicines for treatment of 100 Palestinian patients in Lebanon at a cost of AED2.5million (US$680,000), according to WAM, the Emirates News Agency.

Ibrahim Bu Melha, Deputy Board of Trustees Chairman, said early September that the patients were admitted to Lebanese hospitals to receive treatment and follow up in line with the campaign launched by the establishment to support sick Palestinians and added that “the campaign was launched in cooperation with the Lebanese Islamic Care Authority”.

PIC: fickenscher

CAP: Dr Kevin Fickenscher, Executive Vice President, Perot Systems’ international healthcare group.

Abu Dhabi hospitals mark info networking milestone

A key milestone marking the technological progression of healthcare in Abu Dhabi emirate was put in place 10 September with the announcement of the completion of a fully integrated clinical information network. The new hospital information system currently links three key government hospitals and a number of Primary Healthcare Centres (PHC) in the emirate, according to Perot Systems, the company that was brought in to project-manage the initiative.

Key to this digital network is the Electronic Medical Record (EMR), which provides a centralised platform for the management of patient information. The system is also expected to significantly enhance administrative efficiency.

Speaking exclusively to Middle East Health, Dr Kevin Fickenscher, Executive Vice President, Perot Systems’ international healthcare group, explained that Perot Systems was called in by the Health Authority of Abu Dhabi in 2007 to oversee the project. A new government company Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (SEHA) has since been established to run the 468- bed Tawam Hospital, 550-bed Sheikh Khalifa Medical City and 235-bed Al Corniche Hospital, which have been linked up with the clinical information network.

SEHA owns and operates eight hospital systems, totalling 14 hospitals and more than 55 ambulatory and PHCs in the emirate and the network solution is expected to be completely rolled out across the organisation over the next few years.

“Abu Dhabi initiated the project about two years, but once they got into it they realised they needed support and that’s when they called us in. This was about a year ago,” said Dr Fickenscher.

“We managed to get them to delay its implementation so we could work with the hospitals involved.” He explained that working with the hospitals is vital to the success of such networking initiatives.

“Perot Systems has very deep experience managing the implementation of hospital information systems,” he said. In the United States the company is the leader in this field.

“We use what we call the ADOPTS framework,” Dr Fickenscher explained. “That is: Assess; Define; Optimise; Prepare; Transform; and Sustain.

“In a nutshell we go in and ‘assess’ what the organisation wants, what their needs are. We then ‘define’ these before ‘optimising’ specific information tools for them. In the case of SEHA we used Cerner’s Millennium Hospital Information System. We then prepare the organisation for the change. We implement the change – ‘transform’ – then ‘sustain’ the system by ensuring the organisation defines clear metrics about what it is trying to accomplish. Their top objectives would be cost and quality issues.”

In May this year Cerner announced the completion of the implementation of the Millennium solution at Tawam hospital in Al Ain, Abu Dhabi emirate. The company said then that the Cerner Millennium solution will eventually link all SEHA facilities in Abu Dhabi.

The clinical network solution automates processes in the radiology, pathology, pharmacy, surgery, emergency, and scheduling and registration departments. Clinicians also use the platform to document care and submit orders in the EMR.

Dr Fickenscher said Perot Systems, a Texas, US headquartered provider of information technology services, is experiencing rapid growth in the healthcare sector.

“In healthcare we’re experiencing 15-20% growth. If we continue at this pace of growth we have to place more focus on the international markets, which currently only accounts for only 3% of business. [The US accounts for the bulk of it. In 2007 the company reported revenue of US$2.6 billion]. We want to increase this to 10% by 2012.”

He said the big markets outside the US are the UK and Europe, but the big growth markets are the Middle East, particularly the GCC, China and India.

Dr Fickenscher said Perot Systems was looking at expanding their business in the Middle East. “We’re in talks with the Royal Court of Jordan and have had proposals from Dubai and Bahrain.”

UAE MoH to network all public hospitals

The UAE Ministry of Health (MoH) has launched a major project to connect all its hospitals via an electronic hospital information system. The project is set to enhance the quality of health care in public hospitals and healthcare centres by integrating the communications infrastructure and providing rapid access to patient records throughout the network.

Called Wareed, the project is expected to take around three years to implement and will electronically integrate 14 public hospitals in Dubai and the Northern Emirates and 68 affiliated clinics. The first two hospitals are expected to come online by mid 2009.

Humaid Mohamed Al Qatami, Minister of Health, said: “This is a pioneering project which is the first of its kind in the Middle East and which is in line with the world’s most advanced public healthcare regimes. It will set new standards in one of the most valued facets of our society.”

He said the initiative “will seamlessly integrate public hospitals and 68 affiliated clinics across the country under a single centralised platform that will manage patient information and deliver the full spectrum of public healthcare services in accordance with global best practices”.

Qatami explained that Wareed is based on a technological platform that will virtually link all public sector medical establishments across the six emirates and automate all healthcare processes across radiology, pathology, pharmacy, surgery, emergency and registration departments, supported by high-end data centres and network infrastructure.

“The primary objective of Wareed is to enhance healthcare, increase the public’s confidence in the public healthcare system and to provide efficient, modern healthcare,” he said.

A complementary initiative was rolled out by the Abu Dhabi Government earlier this year. Combined with Wareed this will eventually lead to an integrated public health system throughout the UAE.

The MoH assigned Hybrid Health Solutions (HHS), a Dubai-based project management and solution provider, to manage the project, which will be implemented by a consortium of internationally renowned healthcare technology providers led by leading IT systems integration and consultancy Company, iCapital. The consortium includes system providers, Cerner Corporation, a leading US IT Healthcare specialist, Gulf Business Machines (GBM), that will provide the hardware and networking infrastructure for Wareed, and Mubadala-owned Injazat Data Systems, which will support Wareed with the data centre infrastructure and management.

UAE MoH signs MOU with AUB for training

The UAE Ministry of Health and the American University in Beirut have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for training personnel working at the ministry, according to WAM news agency.

The 18-month-long training programme will be directed at second and third tier leaders at various healthcare departments in the MoH. Specialists from other universities will join experts at AUB in the education programme.

Dubai Health Authority seeks people to help promote change

As part of its extensive and ongoing consultation and engagement programme to all its stakeholders, the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) has launched the DHA Change Champion network for the private health sector in Dubai. The network is designed to be made up of individuals and organisations keen to assist the DHA in developing a world class health service in Dubai.

According to a statement by the DHA the Change Champion will be a “person or organisation who actively works with and supports the DHA programme”.

The DHA is looking for Change Champions from every private healthcare organisation. All Change Champions will be sent regular updates on the DHA’s policies and strategies with the added opportunity to attend important feedback sessions and additional events designed to help the DHA promote the healthcare sector.

The authority added that a Change Champion network is being developed as a change facilitator and as a communications channel enabling feedback and ideas to flow easily between the DHA and the public and private healthcare sectors.

Already successfully established in the public sector, the 60 person strong DHA Change Champion network has played a key role in the recent communications between the DHA and the staff at the Department of Health and Medical Services (DoHMS). The network is helping to build an understanding of the opportunities and benefits associated with the future separation of the DHA from government-owned health service delivery and the future funding and regulation of health in Dubai.

Anyone interested in learning more about the Change Champions can email: or visit the website:

New CEO for American Hospital Dubai

The American Hospital Dubai, one of the leading private healthcare institutions in the UAE and GCC, has confirmed the appointment of Richard Larison as the new Chief Executive Officer of the hospital. Larison formally took up his new post in July 2008.

Larison, a US citizen, previously held senior positions in several leading healthcare organisations in the US. He was the Managing Director at Indraprastha Medical Corporation, New Delhi, India, prior to joining American Hospital Dubai.

Eclipsys sets up Middle East business

Ali Zarzour has been appointed Vice President and General Manager of Eclipsys Middle East operations, which is set to become an important part of the company's international business strategy.

Eclipsys is a leading provider of advanced integrated clinical, revenue cycle and access management software, clinical content and professional services that help healthcare organizations improve clinical, financial, operational and client satisfaction outcomes.

Zarzour, who will be based in Dubai, brings to his position extensive insight and experience in managing Middle East business operations for healthcare technology suppliers. He joins Eclipsys from Microsoft Corporation, where for six years as a healthcare industry manager he served in a variety of leadership capacities in support of creating and growing the healthcare business for the company in the Middle East and Africa.


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