Artificial heart implant at AUBMC – a first for Lebanon

A medical team from the American University of Beirut Medical Center (AUBMC) has successfully performed the first ‘artificial heart’ implant in Lebanon, saving the life of a 37-year-old man suffering from terminal heart failure.

Led by two AUBMC doctors, the six-hour operation to implant a Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD) took place on 28 August.

The LVAD takes over the functions of the left ventricle of the heart.

“90% of all cardiac failures are the result of left ventricular failure,” said Dr Hadi Skouri, the AUBMC cardiologist who had been treating the patient and a specialist on heart failure and transplantation.

“The operation was a huge success as it was this patient’s last chance at life,” said Dr Pierre Sfeir, the AUBMC surgeon who conducted the operation.

The two AUB doctors were assisted by a multidisciplinary medical team, including the leading expert on LVAD operations, Dr Latif Arusoglu, a German surgeon, as well as a clinical specialist, both dispatched by Thoratec, the company that manufactured the Heartmate II LVAD used in the operation.

LVAD’s are normally used as a bridge to heart transplantation, however, in the past five years a new generation of LVAD’s has enabled them to be used as a ‘destination therapy’ when patients are not candidates for a heart transplant.

“The aim of implanting such devices is to preserve life, restore blood circulation and provide optimal blood supply to all vital organs and thus normalising organ function,” explained Dr Skouri.

Of course, not all patients are eligible for this ultraexpensive and complicated surgery, noted the doctors. “If the patient suffers from other serious chronic diseases, we cannot operate on him/her,” said Dr Sfeir, who also heads the division of cardio-thoracic surgery at AUBMC.

Dr Samir Alam, who heads the cardiology division, pointed out that LVADs are a “last-resort treatment”.

Poor access to healthcare in Yemen’s Sa’adah war zone

A report in the Yemen Observer (6 October) says Medecins Sans Frontieres has “expressed deep concern over the health situation in Sa’adah governorate as access to healthcare facilities has become increasingly difficult over the past weeks due to the deteriorating situation resulting from the ongoing conflict”.

The Yemeni government launched a campaign in early August to try to crush what they believe to be insurgents – locally known as the Houthis after their leader’ clan – in the northern governorate of Sa’adah. Many civilians have been caught up in the conflict.

Andres Romero, MSF head of mission, was quoted as saying: “Given the insecurity on the roads to Sa’adah province town it has become extremely difficult for the people from all over the governorate to have access to the only two hospitals undertaking surgical interventions.”

In Sa’adah governorate four hospitals (al-Talh, Razeh, al- Salam and al-Jumhouri hospitals) are still functional and providing secondary health care, while only two hospitals – located in Sa’adah town – are undertaking surgical intervention for the population.

According to MSF head of mission, access for patients to the two hospitals with surgical facilities is random in this volatile situation, therefore complicated deliveries and urgent surgical cases cannot be treated unless they make it to Sa’adah governorate.

MSF is supporting Yemeni Ministry of Health (MOH) hospitals in Razeh and Al Talh in order to maintain access to primary and secondary health care in the governorate.

In a 17 October press release MSF said they were evacuating a part of their staff and reducing their medical activities in Razeh hospital following increasing tension in the area, with fighting in the town and rocket attacks on the hospital buildings.

Romero called on “all sides to respect and preserve the medical work being done for the people”.

Meanwhile, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has launched a cross-border aid operation through Saudi Arabia to meet the urgent needs of internally displaced persons (IDPs) trapped in and around Sa’adah town, according to IRIN News. As of mid October UNHCR field workers estimate there are more than 36,000 IDPs in three governorates (Sa’adah, Hajjah and Amran).

Breast cancer education series available online

The US-Middle East Partnership for Breast Cancer Awareness and Research has launched an online education series, Current Topics in Breast Oncology, in collaboration with the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center. The first three sessions in the series are:

● Risk Factors and Prevention, < s-and-resources/health-careprofessionals. cfm> by Banu Arun, M.D., Associate Professor, Breast Medical Oncology, M. D. Anderson Cancer Center

● Staging and Diagnosis, < s-and-resources / health-careprofessionals. cfm> by Nuhas Ibrahim, M.D., Professor, Breast Medical Oncology, M. D. Anderson Cancer Center

● Breast Imaging, < news-and-resources/healthcare- professionals.cfm> by Wei Yang, M.D., Associate Professor, Diagnostic Radiology, M. D. Anderson Cancer Center The Partnership also collaborated with Benjamin Anderson, MD, of the Breast Health Global Initiative to share his presentation, Translating Evidence into Practice, < resources/health-care-professionals. cfm> online. This webcast examines recent advances in breast cancer surgical techniques and the evolution of breast cancer surgical treatments – from radical mastectomy to current state-of-the-art breast conservation techniques.

Advanced maternity unit for Al Ain Hospital

Al Ain Hospital in the UAE has launched a new advanced Labour and Delivery (L&D) Section to provide sophisticated maternity healthcare services to the Al Ain community. The unit is equipped to handle high risk pregnancies and deliver advanced critical and emergency care to mother and child.

The section includes six birthing rooms equipped with specialised Stryker birthing beds; two triage rooms; two induction rooms; two high dependence rooms; a dedicated OR for emergency caesars; and advanced technology including neonatal resuscitators, and continuous electronic foetal monitoring, anaesthetic and ultrasound machines.

Al Ain Hospital is a 412 - bed acute care hospital managed by VAMED, a European hospital management company, and Medical University of Vienna. It is owned and operated by SEHA, the Abu Dhabi Health Services Company. The hospital carries out more than 2,500 births a year.

Cholera kills 28 in Afghanistan

Twenty-eight deaths from cholera and/or acute watery diarrhoea (AWD) have been reported in Afghanistan in July-August, the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) was quoted as saying in an IRIN News report 14 September.

At least 673 cases of AWD and/or cholera had been reported in 11 of the country’s 34 provinces, it said.

According to the World Health Organisation, cholera is rarely reported in Afghanistan. There are strong diagnostic similarities between AWD and cholera – hence the difficulty health workers have in distinguishing between the two.

Health Minister Mohammad Amin Fatimie, said in Kabul on 12 September, that the MoPH was relying on NGOs and partner agencies for help, but sounded an optimistic note: “There is no outbreak of cholera but only a few single cases. The Health Ministry is capable of diagnosing and controlling cholera.”

However, health officials in the northern province of Samangan have called for emergency assistance to thwart a possible cholera outbreak in Dara-e-Sof District, following five deaths in three days.

MoPH said medical supplies, including antibiotics and sachets of oral rehydration salts, had been dispatched to cholera-affected provinces and more support would be provided if necessary.

The disease has also been reported in the eastern province of Nangarhar where flash floods affected about 4,000 people on 31 August, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported on 2 September. OCHA had warned about an outbreak of malaria from stagnant flood waters. Water sources usually get contaminated during floods.

Lack of access to safe drinking water and sanitation as well as poor awareness about personal hygiene appear to be major causes of cholera and AWD.

The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) estimates that only 23% of Afghanistan’s estimated 27 million people have access to clean drinking water and 12% to safe sanitation, and that annually up to 50,000 children die from diarrhoeal diseases.

Physicians insert artificial heart – a first for UAE

In a first for the UAE, the Cardiac Sciences Institute at Sheikh Khalifa Medical City (SKMC) in Abu Dhabi successfully performed an implantation of a Biventricular Assist Device (BIVAD)-Berlin Heart Excor to save the life of a 17-year-old Indian girl suffering from acute heart failure due to a virus infection. SKMC is managed by world renowned US-based Cleveland Clinic.

The girl, acquired a severe gastrointestinal infection during a stay in India in May 2009. When she returned to Abu Dhabi, where she lives with her parents, her condition deteriorated. She was admitted to SKMC 6 June.

Physicians found enlargement of liver and spleen (Hepato-splenomegaly) because of an infection. The patient suddenly developed severe shortness of breath along with decrease of blood pressure. She was immediately intubated, ventilated and sent to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). To maintain her blood pressure a significant dose of inotropic intravenous medication was necessary. The reason for her cardiopulmonary decompensation was a severely reduced function of her heart (acute heart failure) most likely due to a virus infection. The echocardiography examination revealed an ejection fraction of only 10%. Normal value is more than 65%.

In addition to specific drugs to improve the heart function, an intraaortic balloon pump was inserted via femoral artery to prevent cardiogenic shock. However, the heart function did not show any signs of recovery.

After three weeks, her condition severely deteriorated again and the patient developed cardiopulmonary decompensation with a consecutive impairment of pulmonary, renal and liver function due to the ongoing acute heart failure.

Physicians decided to implant a Biventricular Assist Device (BIVAD)-Berlin Heart Excor. The five-hour procedure was carried out 15 July by Dr Norbert Augustin and his team.

Dr Scott Strong, CEO of SKMC, said this was the first time that such a very complex procedure was successfully performed in the region.

He explained the mechanical Berlin Heart completely replaces the function of a failing heart.

He said she was doing fine after her surgery and that the device was working properly. Although in most heart failure cases a Ventricular Assist Device (VAD) is inserted as bridge to transplant (while the patient waits for a suitable donor heart to become available), in some cases the device has been inserted as a bridge to recovery and this is the case with this patient.

At the time of this report (14 September) Dr Augustin was hoping that the young patient’s heart could recover as there were signs of a slight improvement in her heart function.

“Recovery of the native heart, which can take weeks to months of VAD support, is of course the most desirable clinical outcome,” he said.

Dr Batra’s Homeopathic Clinic opens facility in DHCC

India’s leading homeopathic healthcare corporate, Dr Batras’ Positive Health Clinic has opened a clinic in Dubai Healthcare City (DHCC) and offers the full spectrum of specialised homeopathic treatments.

Dr Mukesh Batra, the founder of Dr Batra’s Homeopathic Clinic, now a chain of more than 53 clinics across India, said at the official opening of the clinic in DHCC: “The cosmopolitan make up of the UAE, and Dubai in particular, is an ideal stage for the science of homeopathy to flourish and spread through the region.

“We will focus our efforts on strategic awareness and education- driven initiatives in the UAE to foster a greater understanding of homeopathy and its time-tested benefits in curing a multitude of healthrelated issues,” he added.

Dr Ayesha Abdullah, Senior Vice President DHCC welcomed Dr Batra’s as the first homeopathic clinic in DHCC, saying: “Central to DHCC is the provision of integrated health services and alternative medicine is a vital part of ensuring patient choice.”

Like all other healthcare facilities established in DHCC, Dr Batra’s Homeopathic Clinic had to satisfy a stringent regulatory code drawn up by DHCC to ensure quality and best practise.

Dr Erfan & Bagedo Hospital to install Cisco network system

Dr Erfan & Bagedo General Hospital in Saudi Arabia will install Cisco’s Connected Health technology – a unified communications network – to streamline communications and workflows, and improve productivity and the patient experience.

The network technology will “facilitate secure access to network resources and applications from any location in order to promote security, improve patient care and response times and enhance operational efficiency”, said Waleed Al Omari, director of sales, Commercial & Real Estate, Cisco, Saudi Arabia. The system will also enable the use of the latest wireless technologies.

Complex maxillofacial surgery carried out successfully at SKMC

A multi-disciplinary team of doctors and surgeons at Sheikh Khalifa Medical City (SKMC), Abu Dhabi, recently performed a complex, rare maxillofacial surgery. The surgery included a radical resection of the patient chin, mandible, and floor of mouth while the patient leg bone (fibula) was used to reconstruct his jaw, and his thigh skin was used to reconstruct his chin

In 15-hour procedure on the 14-year-old boy performed in March 2009, surgeons excised the chin, mandible, and floor of the mouth of the boy. He suffered from a rare genetic disorder that caused him to form curable but potentially lethal skin cancers.

The boy presented to SKMC with a massive tumour in his face and chin. The lymph nodes were removed from both sides of his neck during the surgery, and then part of his leg bone and skin were placed on his face to re-construct his entire jaw. Additional small procedures will be needed to perfect the appearance of the lower lip in the future.

The surgery was carried out by a multi-disciplinary team led by Dr Robert Lorenz, a surgery consultant from Cleveland Clinic who now practises at SKMC.

Commenting on the surgery, he said: “I believe this was one of the most complex maxillofacial surgeries in the UAE, integrating different functional components such as the mouth, chin, jaw, as well as different tissue types including, skin, muscles, bony structures, arteries, veins and nerves.

“We are pleased that the patient is currently doing well and is cured after almost three months of hospital stay and close medical observation,” Dr Lorenz added. “Free-flap reconstruction surgeries have been successfully performed at SKMC in the past, however, the bone free-flap such as in this case is a more complicated procedure and it is new to the repertoire for SKMC.

“The tumour, as large as a grapefruit, was extracted completely from the boy’s face during the surgery,” Dr Lorenz explained. “What made this situation so compelling, was that a much smaller surgery could have been performed if it had received the proper care years ago. I have tremendous respect for the boy’s father who worked tirelessly for years to see that his son finally received the proper care. I also salute the patient as well, who faced the surgery and all his care with tremendous courage for such a young man.”

American Hospital Dubai uses E-Mesh for bypass

A new technology for treating heart patients has been introduced at the Heart Center at the American Hospital Dubai. The treatment – called ‘EMesh’ (External Mesh) – is used in heart bypass surgery and helps ensure that the patient does not require further corrective surgery to the veins which are taken from other parts of the patient’s body and used to repair the heart.

Professor Dr Uwe Klima was the first heart surgeon in the world to use the E-mesh technology, whilst practising in Singapore. Dr Klima, who was recently appointed as Chief of the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery at the American Hospital Dubai, will use the technology in the region for the first time.

“It was a great privilege to be the first heart surgeon in the world to use the new external mesh technology,” said Dr Klima. “It is an external ‘stent’ which is used in bypass surgery, where veins taken from other parts of the body are used as arteries to correct heart defects. The problem was that veins were not designed for this purpose and only have a limited life of 10-15 years before further corrective surgery is needed.

“The E-mesh slides over the vein and contracts it to the diameter of an artery, helping maintain blood pressure and blood flow,” explained Dr Klima. “So far, around 100 cases have been undertaken at centres around the world and the post operative results after six months have been fantastic, minimising short term graft failure and enhancing the long term viability of the vein. This really is the state-of-the-art in heart bypass surgery and we will offer this treatment to patients in the region for the first time and exclusively through the Heart Center at the American Hospital Dubai.”

Construction begins on $150m women & children’s hospital

UEMedical has officially broken ground and begun construction on US$150- million Danat Al Emarat Women & Children’s Hospital in Abu Dhabi. The groundbreaking was attended by Mohammed Ali Al Shorafa, Managing Director & CEO of UEMedical, Emanuel Mikho, Vice President & Director of Healthcare – Middle East of US-based project architects HKS and Hany Amer, Vice President & Regional Manager of consultants Engineering Consultants Group.

The hospital is expected to begin maternity and neonatal services by the end of 2011. Singaporean healthcare operators ParkwayHealth will manage the 200-bed facility, positioning it at the forefront of the region’s medical sector and establishing it as a referral centre for highrisk pregnancies.

The hospital will be part of the integrated healthcare delivery system currently being developed by UEMedical which includes the recently launched network of premium outpatient health centres, HealthPlus.

WCMC-Q marks World Mental Health Day with seminar

Mental health professionals from Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar (WCMCQ) and the community highlighted the importance of mental health to overall physical health during a presentation 10 October as part of the medical college’s recognition of World Mental Health Day.

“The occasion is a welcome opportunity to focus on the role of mental health as a crucial component of overall health and well being,” said Javaid Sheikh, MD, interim dean of WCMC-Q. “As educators of tomorrow’s physicians, we understand the need to integrate mental health care into primary care as a way to improve the health of people around the world.”

Ziad Kronfol, MD, associate professor of psychiatry at WCMC-Q, said: “Mental health disorders occur at all stages of life and in all cultures. Depression, in particular, is a leading cause of disability worldwide.”

Dr Kronfol discussed the relationship between depression and physical health and pointed out that research shows that depression is a common complication of other chronic diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, arthritis or kidney disease.

Treating co-existing depression can help improve a person’s overall medical condition and quality of life, Dr Kronfol said, adding that by increasing awareness of the disorder and the available treatments, we can reduce much unnecessary suffering around the world.

In the past several decades, significant progress has been made in developing treatments for mental disorders. New medications successfully treat a variety of conditions, notably, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and anxiety disorders; and there has been great progress in psychotherapeutic treatments, particularly cognitive behavioural therapy and interpersonal therapy, according to Dr Kronfol.

Neopharma plant in Adu Dhabi licensed to produce Oseltamivir

Neopharma, the Abu Dhabibased pharmaceuticals manufacturer, announced late September it had received clearance from the UAE Ministry of Health for its antiviral medication Oseltamivir BR Flu. The drug is a potential choice to prevent and treat H1N1 flu in the region.

Dr B.R. Shetty, Managing Director and CEO, Neopahrma, said: “The endorsement for the antiviral drug manufactured by Neopharma, a local company, reflects the strong support of the Ministry of Health for the vision of the UAE leadership to create a self-sustaining community.

“We are confident the approval for Oseltamivir will significantly facilitate medical professionals and the wider community to effectively tackle the H1N1 virus in the region.”

Neopharma’s Oseltamivir BR Flu is the outcome of a joint venture with leading pharmaceuticals major Hetero Drugs. Neopharma’s plant in Abu Dhabi is designed for large-scale production of tablets, capsules and liquid orals. The company manufactures a wide range of products including antibiotics, analgesics, respiratory medicines, antihistamines, as well as medications for cardiovascular conditions and diabetes.

Regional Diabetes Summit enhances doctors’ knowledge

Over 180 cardiologists, endocrinologists, internists and other healthcare professionals gathered in Dubai in October for the first Middle East Regional Diabetes Summit, the aim of which was to enhance health professionals’ knowledge “so that evidence-based recommendations are put into practice”.

The two-day meeting, hosted by Pfizer, and held ahead of World Diabetes Day on 14 November, focussed on the treatment and management of Diabetic Painful Neuropathy (DPN) and dyslip- idaemia, two common conditions associated with diabetes.

Speakers urged doctors to be aware that DPN does not respond to traditional pain relief medications, but required specific medications targeting the nerves. They also pointed out that healthcare professionals needed to understand the significance of risk factors, such as high cholesterol, faced by diabetics.

Sanofi-aventis awards grants for diabetes research

Sanofi-aventis announced early September that it has awarded grants to a number of doctors in the GCC region to implement new research, screening and care initiatives to prevent and treat diabetes across the Gulf. The grants are part of Sanofi's 'DEVOTED' initiative, launched in the Middle East in 2007 to improve and support the management and treatment of diabetes, which has reached epidemic proportions in the region.

Grant winners include:

● Dr Hussein Saadi, Professor of Internal Medicine & Consultant Endocrinology at UAE University, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, for a survey of Emirati adults to determine the prevalence of diabetic complications.

● Dr Ghaida Qadaha, Consultant Diabetology, Rashid Hospital in Dubai, accompanied by two members of her team, Dr Khadeeja Hafez and Dr Sameem Matu, were chosen for two initiatives to combat diabetes. The first initiative involves training nursing staff to show diabetic patients how to gain control of their blood sugar levels. The second project is aimed at conducting a national survey to assess the prevalence of obesity and diabetes among schoolchildren in the UAE.

● Dr Wiam Ibrahim Hussein, a Consultant Endocrinology at Bahrain's Gulf Diabetes Specialist Centre, was given a grant for a project using SMS to manage diabetes.

● Dr Mireille Samson, Consultant family Medicine & Endocrinology, of the Sheikh Khalifa Medical Centre in Abu Dhabi, for a diabetes screening project.

Saudi Arabia MOH recruits 6,000 healthcare workers

The Saudi Arabia Ministry of Health has recruited more than 6,000 health workers, including doctors, nurses and paramedics, from Great Britain, Ireland, Nigeria, Azerbaijan and South Africa to work in the MoH, according to a 12 October report in Arab News.

Dr Mohammed Hashim, assistant deputy minister of health for strategy and development, was quoted as saying that this was the first time that the Ministry of Health had employed such a large number of health workers to fulfill the kingdom's growing demands.

He added that 3,000 health workers, including 1,000 doctors and 2,000 nurses, had already been posted to various hospitals throughout the kingdom. The remaining 1,600 doctors and 2,600 nurses were still due to arrive in the kingdom to take up their positions.

Call for gender equity in eye care on World Sight Day

To mark World Sight Day on 8 October and in an effort to raise awareness and issue a call for greater gender equity in eye care the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region has released figures stating that nearly two-thirds of the estimated 45 million blind people around the world are female. The incidence of some blinding diseases (cataract . the main cause of blindness . and trachoma) is higher among women than men. The WHO also points out that in many developing countries women are less likely than men to receive eye care services, which has lead them and their partners in support of the VISION 2020 initiative to theme this year's World Sight Day to 'Gender and eye health . equal access to care'.

The WHO notes that there are an estimated 314 million visually impaired people around the world. Up to 80% of blindness is either preventable or treatable with available cost-effective interventions such as cataract surgery, which costs around US$50 per patient. WHO, in collaboration with ministries of health and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness, launched the global initiative, VISION 2020: The Right to Sight, with the aim of eliminating the main causes of avoidable blindness by the year 2020. In the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region, around 37 million people are visually impaired, of whom 5.3 million are blind.

Recent data indicate that infectious causes of blindness are decreasing as a result of public health interventions and socioeconomic development. In contrast, ageing populations and lifestyle changes mean that chronic blinding conditions such as diabetic retinopathy are projected to rise exponentially. Women comprise more than half of the elderly population, and they face a significantly greater risk of acquiring diseases that can lead to blindness and vision loss than men. Adopting approaches to improve the use of eye care services by women and girls will not only improve gender equity in eye health, it will also have a significant benefit to the family, community and society.

Course takles paediatric malnutrition

The Emirates Medical Association Gastroenterology division in mid October sponsored a two-day workshop in Dubai to train paediatricians about the importance of paediatric nutrition and the benefits of breastfeeding.

Paediatric nutrition experts from the Paediatric Total Nutrition Therapy (PDNT) programme, recently established in the United States, delivered a series lectures and hands-on workshops to further equip the doctors with enhanced diagnostic skills and knowledge of the issues related paediatric nutrition. The course was designed to enable the doctors to further train their staff.

Paediatric malnutrition is a crucial issue in the Middle East. According to the World Health Organisation (2007) 17% of children in the UAE suffer from chronic malnutrition (stunted growth).

Speaking at a press conference during the series of workshops, Dr Mohamad Miqdady, Senior Consultant Paediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition, Department of Paediatrics, Sheikh Khalifa Medical Center, said: “This is considerably higher than the Western world and when compared to other Developing countries it is still a significant figure.”

Dr Adnan Abou Hammour, Consultant Gastroenterology and Chairman of the Emirates Medical Association, Gastroenterology Division explained the PTNT course provided a comprehensive outlook on paediatric nutrition.

“Paediatric nutrition is important in sickness and in health,” he stressed. “It is an important foundation that sets the stage for healthy life in the future.”

Dr Miqdady noted this was the first time the PTNT programme was being used outside the US. He said it was essential that children have a balanced diet to ensure proper neuro-cognitive development.

Dr Rita Raman, PTNT editorial board member, Professor of Paediatrics and Attending Neonatologist, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, pointed out that 55% of child mortality under 5 years of age is due to causes related to malnutrition.

“Over nutrition or under nutrition is a global problem,” she said.

Dr Sanja Kolacek, PTNT editorial board member, Head and Professor of Paediatrics, Children’s Hospital, Zagreb, Croatia, said that by educating healthcare workers and parents about a balanced diet and by improving nutrition, paediatric mortality and morbidity could be significantly reduced.

Dr Raman said that balanced nutrition needed to start early, while the mother is pregnant and it should continue after birth with breastfeeding for at least 4-6 months and preferably 2 years.

“Such simple measures have been shown to reduce infant mortality by as much as 30%,” she said. Dr Miqdady pointed out: “A paediatric healthcare professional who thoroughly understands the relationship of nutrition to paediatric health and development is better equipped to provide optimal care to infants and children both in health and sickness.”

EMA doctors join Global Cancer Campaign

UAE doctors and other healthcare professionals have pledged their full support to the Global Cancer Awareness Campaign, launched last year by worldchampion cyclist Lance Armstrong, who has fought and won his own personal battle with testicular cancer.

The Emirates Medical Association (EMA) has signed-up to the Livestrong campaign as part of its own cancer awareness effort, which has been working to educate healthcare professionals and the public about breast cancer as part of October’s Breast Cancer Awareness month.

A Memorandum of Understanding between the two organisations will see all money raised by Livestrong in the UAE, set up earlier this year, go to support the EMA’s cancer work

Latest figures show that 19.1% of deaths in the UAE are due to cancer, second only to cardiovascular disease that accounts for 39.6% of deaths, according to World Health Organisation data from 2005.

“Cancer is the second most common cause of death in the UAE, and as a medical organisation we are dedicated to raising awareness about it through the education of healthcare professionals and the public. Livestrong’s Global Cancer Awareness Strategy is a grass-roots phenomenon and we are proud to be the first UAE organisation to sign up to it,” said EMA President Dr Ali Al Numairy.

“Being part of such a highprofile global campaign will help send a message to people in the UAE that cancer is not a taboo subject. Our goal is to educate people that cancer is curable, and if it is diagnosed and treated early, then the chances of a complete recovery are very good,” said Dr Shaheenah Dawood, a senior specialist registrar in oncology based in Dubai, and member of the EMA’s Oncology Society.

Arno Kukkuk, Livestrong Leader for the UAE agreed: “There is a certain stigma to talking about cancer here, and so we want to get the message across that cancer is real, but it is also curable.” 


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