Yemen honours WHO regional director

On Saturday 16 October 2010, Dr Hussein A. Gezairy, WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean, received Gold Medal of Honour from Ali Abdullah Saleh, the President of Yemen. The Gold Medal of Honour, one of the most prominent awards in Yemen, was given to Dr Gezairy in recognition of his long years of international humanitarian service, particularly the support he has extended to Yemen in the field of public health.

During the event attended by Dr Abdulkarim Yehia Rasae, Minister of Health, Yemen and Ghulum Popal, WHO Representative to Yemen, the President paid recognition to Dr Gezairy’s efforts and leadership during his years of service as WHO Regional Director.

The Regional Director extended his gratitude for this honourable recognition. He pointed out the many improvements he had witnessed in Yemen’s health sector. In particular, he praised Yemen’s national immunisation campaigns to reduce child mortality and also the country’s tireless fight against polio, malaria, tetanus, measles and schistosomiasis. He said that it was a source of pride that the country had stopped polio virus circulation and measles was on its way towards being eliminated. He also noted Yemen’s exemplary achievements in reducing the prevalence of malaria and also the considerable progress that had been made in eradicating schistosomiasis. The Regional Director added that the partnership between WHO and Yemen’s Ministry of Health had resulted in many achievements in primary health care and basic development needs, all of which were in line with Yemen’s national strategies and needs.

Corniche Hospital accredited by RCOG

Corniche Hospital in Abu Dhabi has been selected as the first facility outside the United Kingdom to be accredited to provide an Advanced Training Skills Module (ATSM) in maternal medicine by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG). The 235-bed Corniche Hospital, the largest maternity healthcare facility in the UAE, is managed by Johns Hopkins Medicine International and is part of the SEHA HealthSystem owned and operated by Abu Dhabi Health Services Company.

The RCOG recognition for training allows Corniche Hospital to offer the ATSM in maternal medicine to UAE physicians as part of a continuing medical education programme. ATSM has been designed to equip trainees with the increasingly advanced subspecialty skills required for independent practice. Doctors undertaking postgraduate training in Obstetrics and Gynaecology in the UK for instance, must complete a minimum of two ATSMs in order to obtain a Certificate of Completion of Training in obstetrics and gynaecology.

DHCC launches Patient Rights Charter

Dubai Healthcare City (DHCC) has launched a Patient Rights Charter to increase public awareness of the rights of patients in a healthcare setting.

The charter includes patient rights such as: the right to be informed of any inherent risk in a particular medical procedure; the right to medical care without regard to race, nationality, age, gender or disability; the right to personal privacy; the right to confidentiality; the right to a second opinion; and the right to refuse treatment or to move to another healthcare facility, among others. However, it does not cover the thorny issue of the right to compensation for medical malpractice.

The patient charter is available at DHCC’s clinics, hospitals and on the DHCC website.

It was drawn up with the support of DHCC’s Customer Protection Unit and Center for Healthcare Planning and Quality. The launch of the charter coincides with the launch of a new DHCC website – – that enables the public to search for doctors via more than 60 specialties, 30 languages, 50 insurance providers. The website also lists physicians’ qualifications – ensuring transparency about physicians practising at DHCC.

New holistic institute in Dubai to offer training in alternative medicine

The Holistic Institute, a completely new concept in complementary health education, opened its doors in Jumeira Lake Towers, Dubai, UAE, on 1 October 2010, offering IFPA (International Federation of Professional Aromatherapists) accredited courses in Aromatherapy, Reflexology, Anatomy/Physiology and Therapeutic Massage.

Sunita Teckchand, the Principal Tutor of the Holistic Institute, is a fully qualified holistic therapist and trainer in alternative therapies. She has worked in Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) for many years and has in-depth experience in conducting workshops in Aromatherapy, Jin Shin Jyutsu self-help classes, life empowering classes and other areas of CAM.

The concept of the Institute is to ‘Inspire excellence, leadership and wisdom in complimentary health education and self-development’. Their core values are Excellence, Professionalism, Teamwork, Ethical Standards and an open door policy between students and tutors. The Holistic Institute will offer 45 different courses set up to suit individual needs – whether it is an academic career, or simply for self-empowerment and life change.

As well as offering academic courses, the Holistic Institute will offer more than 45 self-empowering short courses in Bach Flower Remedies, Reiki, Beautiful Skin with Aromatherapy, Shiatsu, Back Massage, Foot Massage, Lymphatic Drainage, Iridology, First Aid with Essential Oils, Beautiful Hair with Aromatherapy, Introduction to Feng Shui, Mental & Emotional care with Essential oils, Face Reading, Self Help Jin Shin Jyutsu classes, and many more. The institute will collaborate with a range of foreign and local teachers and consultants to provide the wide range of courses.

Once daily erectile dysfunction pill launched in Middle East

The new Cialis 5mg, also referred to as ‘Cialis Once Daily’, pill, from Eli Lily, was launched across the Middle East in June this year and is available by prescription from pharmacies.

The ‘once daily’ erectile dysfunction pill is being hailed as a breakthrough treatment for this condition, giving men with erectile dysfunction the ability to perform sexually spontaneously, rather than having to take a pill before sex.

Dr Gerald Brock, Professor at the Department of Surgery, Division of Urology at St Joseph’s Health Centre in London, Ontario, says the once-a-day pill will appeal to men with erectile dysfunction who find timing an issue. “Taking the drug on a daily basis and will enable men to have complete spontaneity.”

Health Authority-Abu Dhabi launches online CME accreditation

The Health Authority – Abu Dhabi (HAAD) has launched its new electronic accreditation system for Continuing Medical Education (CME) and Continuing Professional Development for healthcare professionals in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, UAE. Through its dedicated CME web page, all licensed healthcare professionals will be able to apply for CME/CPD accreditation online and register in CME/CPD activities.

HAAD requires between 20 to 50 hours of continuing medical education courses for license renewal and HAAD CME programmes are mandatory.

Dr Noura Al Menhali, Section Head, CME/CPD at HAAD, said: “HAAD is constantly searching for the best quality assurance for the CME/CPD activities to ensure fast, reliable services and customer satisfaction in pursuing excellence in practice. The online-accreditation system will ease accreditation procedure and allow all healthcare professionals to accredit their CME/CPD programmes in a better and more efficient way.

“HAAD has developed a set of standards and criteria for CME providers to ensure health professionals have access to unbiased, independent and high quality information in all of their educational activities. “Furthermore we are planning to introduce online CME courses which will allow physicians to complete coursework at their own pace and participate in webcasts and online tutorials making it easy for physicians to complete their required coursework while working full-time or juggling a busy schedule.”

SEHA to build more dialysis centres

Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (SEHA) will build the Al Mafraq Dialysis Centre in the Mafraq area of Abu Dhabi to handle the growing demand for dialysis treatment. SEHA currently treats 506 renal patients, but this figure is increasing at a rate of 13% per year, according to Saif Bader Al Qubaisi, Chairman of SEHA.

Al Mafraq Dialysis Centre will house 68 dialysis units to serve some 325 patients. SEHA said they planned to develop similar units at Sheikh Khalifa Medical City in Abu Dhabi and Tawam Hospital in Al Ain – bringing the total number of dialysis units to 204.

The Al Mafraq Dialysis Centre will include two suites dedicated to VIPs, two isolated units for infectious diseases, and four units for children. The centre is expected to be competed in the second half of next year.

SEHA recently announced the signing of an exclusive contract with Freisenius Medical Care, the largest global provider of dialysis equipment and services. The company will manage SEHA’s dialysis centres.

Sheikh Zayed Institute in Washington on track

The establishment of the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation in Washington DC is has taken another major step forward following the inaugural meeting in Abu Dhabi in July of the Sheikh Zayed Institute Executive Oversight Committee consisting of members of the Children’s National Medical Center in Washington DC and senior figures from the Health Authority – Abu Dhabi (HAAD).

The setting up the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation at Children’s National Medical Center was made possible by a US$150 million gift from the Government of Abu Dhabi in September 2009. The Institute aims to develop knowledge, tools, and procedures that will make surgery more precise, less invasive and pain-free.

Dr Ahmed Mubarak Al Mazrouei, Chairman of the Health Authority – Abu Dhabi, remarked that it’s been exciting to see the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation go from a concept to reality over the past year. A facilities plan for 20,000 square feet of research space is complete. The facility itself is due to be completed in the second quarter of next year;

Dr Kurt Newman, the surgeon-in-chief at Children’s National Medical Center and senior vice president of the Institute, said: “We are hiring some of the world’s best surgeons and researchers and are creating innovative facilities designed to support collaboration. We are on our way to making discoveries that will directly improve surgery for children.”

Health Authority - Abu Dhabi (HAAD)Health Authority - Abu Dhabi (HAAD) Health Authority - Abu Dhabi (HAAD)The physicians and researchers at the institute will look at four key areas of research related to paediatric surgery: pain medicine, bioengineering, immunology and personalised treatment based on individual genetic makeup.

● On the Web Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation SheikhZayedSurgicalinstitute Health Authority - Abu Dhabi (HAAD)

Gulf doctors urged to look out for steroid-induced osteoporosis

Gulf doctors have been urged to look out for steroid-induced osteoporosis in all patients taking long-term glucocorticoids for illnesses such as asthma, rheumatoid arthritis and connective tissue disorders by medical experts attending the Emirates Rheumatology Conference (ERC) in Dubai ahead of World Osteoporosis Day on October 20.

World-renowned expert in osteoporosis, Professor David Reid, Head of the Division of Applied Medicine at the University of Aberdeen in the UK, told around 100 delegates attending the ‘Optimizing Osteoporosis Treatment’ symposium at ERC that all patients on long-term steroids for chronic inflammatory and allergic diseases needed to have their bone density checked for signs of bone weakness.

Recent research suggests that bone density assessment is most important in the first three months of glucocorticoid use as this is when the most rapid reduction in bone mineral density takes place, peaking at six months and then declining at a slower, steadier pace with continued use of the drugs[1]. The use of glucocorticoids approximately doubles the risk of hip fracture [2].

“Although essential for the management of chronic inflammatory and allergic diseases, glucocorticoids have an adverse effect on bone, primarily inhibiting bone formation. Because of this patients taking the drugs are around twice as likely to develop fractures compared with patients of similar age and sex who are not on the drugs. It is essential that all such patients have their bone density assessed near the time they start treatment as part of their routine management,” explained Professor Reid.

“Glucocorticoid-induced osteoporosis is undoubtedly a significant issue in the Gulf as many diseases that require long-term steroid use are prevalent here,” said Professor Mustafa Izzi, Consultant Rheumatologist at Zayed Military Hospital, Abu Dhabi, who is Secretary General of the Emirates Osteoporosis Society.

“Unfortunately, I believe on many occasions the condition is under diagnosed and under treated and I want to urge doctors to start looking for this type of osteoporosis in all patients taking glucocorticoids, whatever their age or gender,” added Professor Izzi, who acted as chairman for the symposium which took place on October 10.

References: [1] American College of Rheumatology 2010, Recommendations for the Prevention and Treatment of Glucocorticoid-induced Osteoporosis: Arthritis Care and Research: Online July 26 2010. publications/acr/index.asp [2] Cooper C, Coupland C, Mitchell M. Rheumatoid fracture. Ann Rheum Dis 1995; 54:49–52.

Thousands of Afghans infected with leishmaniasis

A report by ProMed Mail – – in October says tens of thousands of people in Afghanistan have been infected by an outbreak of a leishmaniasis.

Cutaneous leishmaniasis is a parasitic disease transmitted by the female phlebotomine sand fly. Treatable with medication and not life-threatening, cutaneous leishmaniasis can leave severe scars on the bodies of victims. The disease threatens 13 million people in Afghanistan, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said, and many impoverished Afghan victims can't afford the medication to treat it.

In Kabul – described by WHO as “the world capital of cutaneous Leishmaniasis” – the number of cases jumped from an estimated 17,000 a year in the early 2000s to 65,000 in 2009, WHO said. Most victims are women and children. WHO said women and children are more vulnerable because they mostly live indoors at night, where the sand flies prefer to bite, and are therefore more susceptible than men who are generally outside the home.

Peter Graaff, WHO representative to Afghanistan, told The Associated Press that the stigma and shame attached to the disfiguring disease results in underreporting, and the number of infected people is likely much higher. “This number is likely to be the tip of the iceberg as cases are grossly underreported,” he said.

“The high cost of treatment makes it difficult to integrate anti-Leishmaniasis drugs,” said Dr Suraya Dalil, acting minister of public health. “I urge donors to take this cause seriously, as it causes unnecessary suffering amongst a large number of Afghans.”

UAE MoH upgrades digital infrastructure to improve security

The UAE MoH has installed an all-inclusive data center that will introduce new healthcare e-services to the UAE and network all the MoH offices throughout the Emirates. The system also significantly improves the security of the network. The data centre – called Pulsator (al Nabed) – is essentially an upgrade to the MoH’s existing digital infrastructure and will enable the deployment of a range of enterprise applications.

“The fundamental objective of this endeavour is to accommodate more applications and e-services that will improve the level of healthcare services in UAE. There needs to be a robust infrastructure platform on which to build new applications,” said Yunis Al Amiri, the MoH’s Deputy IT Manager – Operations.

The datacenter was implemented by leading systems integrator ITQAN Al- Bawardi Computers. The system will improve the networking environment, network security, systems and storage infrastructure, and Microsoft infrastructure technologies.

“The Ministry of Health has a concrete and clear vision of providing world class health services to the UAE public. The state of the datacenter before implementing Al-Nabed did not foster this vision, and it was crucial to completely overhaul the system so the vision could become reality,” said Mona Al Suwaidi, the MoH’s Deputy IT Manager - Projects Management.

“We want to create more efficiency through higher automation of daily operations, by using the latest and most superior technologies in the market,” he said. He pointed out that one of the key facets of the new system it its security. Prior to this, the system had been vulnerable to data loss.

Raising awareness of psoriasis

The 29th October marked International World Psoriasis Day – a global psoriasis awareness day initiated by the International Federation of Psoriasis Associations. And with an estimated 200,000 people suffering from psoriasis in the UAE alone, many apparently unaware that they this ‘silent’ disease, there is clearly a need to raise awareness about the skin condition.

It is believed that more than 7,600 people in the UAE acquire the condition each year. Psoriasis can appear at any age, although it usually strikes for the first time between the ages of 15 and 25. Psoriasis impairs patients’ physical and psychological well-being, leading to reduced quality of life and work productivity.

In support of psoriasis awareness, an international survey of 10,800 respondents has been published on with the aim of understanding the impact of the disease on their lives.

Some of the findings include:
● 14% of respondents pointed out that they had lost or quit their jobs because of their psoriasis and almost one-quarter (23%) said that psoriasis negatively affected their income. These effects were more common in those with severe disease.
● 21% of all respondents and 41% of those with severe disease reported they had cancelled five or more social engagements in the last year because of their psoriasis. Currently there is no cure, but treatment can help manage the condition. Treatment may include topical agents, phototherapy or systemic medications taken orally or by injection or infusion.
● is also available in Arabic – UAE MoH, Merck Serono in joint initiative for diabetes training for doctors

The UAE Ministry of Health and Merck Serono, the drug company, have signed an agreement to provide diabetes skills training for doctors in the Emirates in an effort to address the growing epidemic of diabetes in the country.

Dr Mahmoud Fikri, executive director for Health Policies at the MoH said the initiative is an excellent example of publicprivate partnership with a common goal of improving health outcomes for UAE residents.

He said the initiative sets the stage for the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) to randomly select 200 doctors to participate in phase one of the programme. The group will comprise doctors with diabetes training and those without in order to evaluate what knowledge is missing. Following this evaluation a curriculum will be developed to train doctors to diagnose and treat diabetes.

UAE MoH, Merck Serono in joint initiative for diabetes training

The UAE Ministry of Health and Merck Serono, the drug company, have signed an agreement to provide diabetes skills training for doctors in the Emirates in an effort to address the growing epidemic of diabetes in the country.

Dr Mahmoud Fikri, executive director for Health Policies at the MoH said the initiative is an excellent example of public-private partnership with a common goal of improving health outcomes for UAE residents.

He said the initiative sets the stage for the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) to randomly select 200 doctors to participate in phase one of the programme. The group will comprise doctors with diabetes training and those without in order to evaluate what knowledge is missing. Following this evaluation a curriculum will be developed to train doctors to diagnose and treat diabetes.

UNODC – NRC partner to reduce drug-abuse

The National Rehabilitation Centre (NRC) in Abu Dhabi has signed a partnership agreement with the United Nations Office of Drug and Crime (UNODC), aiming at establishing NRC as a leading drug demand reduction centre in the region through a multiphase programme, to alleviate the adverse social and negative consequences of drug use.

This multi-phase programme will strengthen the institutional and human resource capacity of NRC and equip it with the necessary technical assistance and affiliations to provide a comprehensive package of demand reduction activities. The program will also enable NRC to become a resource centre for the Middle East and North Africa, capable of training other centers, experts and/or practitioners, on good practices by sharing its developed expertise.

The first phase of the programme will focus on setting the stage, policy orientation (information, needs and resource assessment), the second phase will capacitate the structure of the service and by the third phase NRC will be launched as a regional training centre on good practices. With a steady increase in the number of drug users in the Gulf region, especially amongst females and younger age groups, advancements in the field of drug use prevention, treatment and awareness are of utmost importance.

“This partnership is a very important step in helping us realise our goal of minimising drug use and providing the best treatment facility possible for our patients, both in the UAE and in the region,” Dr Hamad Al Ghaferi, director general of NRC, explained.

Francis Maertens, deputy executive director, UNODC, said: “Our joint efforts are meant to support the initial goals set by the NRC, which are in line with the UNODC strategic programme frameworks that are geared towards prevention, treatment and alternative development. We envision this unique partnership with the NRC as a platform for future development in the area of demand reduction across the region, bringing the expertise of the UNODC together with the NRC.”  


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