Qatar looks at physician certification standards

An historic meeting took place in Doha in September in an effort to introduce new standards of excellence in physician certification in the region. Attending this first-of-its-kind meeting in the region was a delegation of medical experts from the United Arab Emirates and leading medical figures from Qatar, Oman and Lebanon.

The meeting – co-organised by Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar (WCMC-Q) in partnership with Qatar’s Supreme Council of Health, Hamad Medical Corporation, and Sidra Medical and Research Centre – was also attended by the American University of Beirut, the Oman Medical Specialty Board and the Health Authority – Abu Dhabi.

Co-chaired by Dr Javaid Sheikh, dean of WCMC-Q and Dr Ghalia Bint Mohammed Al-Thani, a member of the Executive Committee of the Board of Governors for the Supreme Council for Health, the meeting explored possible areas for collaboration to implement certifying examinations endorsed by the international arm of the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) for physicians who are graduating from residency programmes accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education International (ACGME-I).

Representatives discussed the current arrangements for certifying physicians, student teaching methods and resident education, and explored strategies to foster greater collaboration between the parties and advance the implementation of the ABMS-I examinations.

ABMS is the medical organisation overseeing physician certification in the United States. It assists its 24 Member Boards in their efforts to develop and implement educational and professional standards for the evaluation and certification of physician specialists. Collaborating with ABMS-I will facilitate attainment of higher standards of care by physicians in Qatar and the wider region.

Saudi man dies from novel coronavirus

Two recent infections in the GCC, including one fatality, from a novel coronavirus, raised concerns in the region and around the world of a possible new highly contagious and deadly virus and spurred a flurry of speculation as to the cause of the new virus. Now scientists who first identified the new virus, which comes from the same family as the notorious SARS virus, report that it may have come from bats, although whether it travelled through another species before infecting people is unclear.

A report in ProMED-mail quotes Ron Fouchier, a virologist at Erasmus Medical Centre in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, as saying: “It’s hard to say anything definitive, but humans do not come in contact with bats a whole lot. And so the chance that two humans get into contact with bats is even less likely, with the same species of bats carrying the same virus.”

To date only two infections with the new virus have been spotted. The first, a 60-year-old the man from Saudi Arabia who died from the infection, occurred in June this year. The second was in a man from Qatar, who first sought medical assistance in early September. The Qatari man was sent by air ambulance to London, where he remains in hospital (at the time of going to press).

The researchers say in their latest report (17 October 2012) published in the New England Journal of Medicine, they predict pipistrellus bats may be the source of the virus. Senior author Fouchier, the virologist whose laboratory first spotted the novel coronavirus, said bats and coronaviruses have co-evolved over millennia. Because of that fact, one can generally predict which bat is host to which coronavirus, Fouchier said in an interview. Study of the virus cannot reveal if there was an animal go-between, though it is a possibility, he said.

While Fouchier mentioned the possibility of spread from person to person, at this point the suspicion is that the men were probably infected by animals. Both are reported to have had contact with some animals, including sheep and camels in the case of the man from Qatar, according to the ProMED-mail report.

Dubai engineers camels for drug production

GM camels are being engineered for drug production, under a project from the Reproductive Biology Laboratory at the Camel Reproduction Centre in Dubai. The project aims to reduce the prices of life-saving drugs, including insulin and clotting factors for treating haemophilia. Nisar Wani, head of the Reproductive Biology Laboratory, said: “We are establishing camel cells modified with exogenous DNA for use in producing transgenic cloned animals, or GM camels. Hopefully we will transfer camel transgenic embryos to surrogate mothers for the first time later this year.”

Wani said he was unable to pinpoint when the first transgenic animal would be born, as the calving rate for cloned embryos was only 5%, and this rate gets smaller when transgenic cells are used.

Serge Muyldermans, head of the Laboratory of Cellular and Molecular Immunology at Vrije University of Brussel, said: “So far they have just been repeating what others are doing with goats and cattle. Cows would be better producers of transgenic protein as they produce more milk. But as camels can be kept in arid areas and are used to living under harsh conditions, they might be better suited to the Middle East.”

Methodist Intl to run new tertiary hospital in medical city in Oman

Methodist International, the global subsidiary of The Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas, has entered into an affiliation to provide services for the development and operation of the new acute tertiary care hospital in The Medical City in Salalah, Oman. The Medical City has been proposed by the Apex Medical Group and is under development in strategic partnership with the ministries of tourism and health in Oman. The US$1 billion project is being developed on an 800,000 sq m site in Salalah. In addition to the new hospital, the facilities will also include a state-of-the-art diagnostic centre, a healthcare resort and a healthcare education complex. The Medical City will also feature a luxury hotel and a wellness centre, and will offer free medical and educational community support services to poor families.

Methodist International will be at the core of programme management to coordinate development and implementation activities. They will set up the management and operation system of the hospital, including recruitment and training of hospital staff, leadership development, clinical integration and medical management models. Following the opening of the hospital, Methodist International will be involved in a 10- year affiliation focused on quality, training and knowledge transfer management.

Leading genomics expert joins QBRI

Qatar Biomedical Research Institute (QBRI) has appointed Dr Philippe Froguel, genomics expert from Imperial College, London, to head its planned Genomic Medicine Research Centre. In 1992, Dr Froguel was the first to identify the type 2 diabetes gene, prompting his ongoing study of obesity and the genetic makeup of individuals who suffer from both extreme obesity as well as extreme leanness. His more recent research has focused on the existence of a so-called ‘skinny gene’. Froguel’s expertise is particularly relevant for Qatar, where obesity and diabetes rates are among the highest in the world.

Philips to provide med equipment for Abu Dhabi’s new Burjeel Hospital

Royal Philips Electronics announced a major new partnership with the Burjeel Hospital, a new 196-bed facility in Abu Dhabi, to provide comprehensive healthcare solutions, including the supply, installation, maintenance and upgrade of key medical equipment within the hospital. The contract guarantees longterm value for the Burjeel Hospital by future-proofing the installed technology against predictable operational costs, thereby providing the hospital with an affordable and stable business proposition, according to Philips. A 30-strong multidisciplinary team from Philips collaborated closely with the local healthcare provider during the early stages of the hospital’s planning and development.

HAAD launches new baby screening

The Health Authority – Abu Dhabi (HAAD) in collaboration with the USbased Children’s National Medical Center, has acknowledged the efforts of 21 hospitals based in Abu Dhabi for successfully implementing the innovative and noninvasive Critical Congenital Heart Disease (CCHD) screening for newborns.

Children’s National has worked with HAAD and Abu Dhabi hospitals to introduce this new screening technology that identifies once-undetectable serious heart problems in the first days of a child’s life.

Dr Omniyat Al Hajri, director of public health and policy at HAAD, said: “Safeguarding the health of Abu Dhabi infants is a top priority for HAAD, and this simple screening will help accomplish this goal. Today we are recognising the hard work and dedication of the Abu Dhabi hospitals to implement this programme improving the outcomes for these infants and potentially saving their lives.”

Dr Gerard Martin, co-director of Children’s National Heart Institute, said: “Most of the newborns who we’ve detected to have CCHD seemed to appear completely ‘normal-looking’ when born. Heart disease is invisible to the naked eye, and it could go completely undetected until a child starts to show some symptoms of it later on in life. The beauty about Pulse Oximetry is that it is a simple, non-invasive painless test that measures the oxygen saturation and pulse rate to detect any potential CCHD in a newborn baby within the first few days of it being born.”

Saudi hosts regional NCD conference

A recent conference in King Fahd Cultural Centre, Riyadh, looked at creating momentum for the implementation of the United Nations General Assembly Political Declaration on Prevention and Control of Non-communicable Diseases at the regional level.

Several Saudi ministers for non-health sectors participated in the conference to illustrate the multisectoral approach necessary in preventing and controlling NCDs. In addition, several ministers of health from other countries in the region attended the conference.

Dr Ala Alwan, WHO regional director for the Eastern Mediterranean, said: “Already, six out of 10 countries with the highest prevalence of diabetes in the world are located in the region. Some risk factors for diabetes and cardiovascular diseases have socio-cultural and behavioural dimensions, which are increasingly more prevalent in this part of the world. Soaring obesity rates can generally be attributed to over-consumption of highcaloric foods, combined with little physical activity, leading to higher rates – especially among Arab women.”

Overweight and obesity rates for adults in the region are estimated at 30.4% and 12%, respectively, reaching as high as 66% and 31.5% in countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council.

Rare diseases discussed in Dubai

Leaders from the biopharmaceutical sector and the government gathered at Dubai Biotechnology and Research Park (DuBiotech) to highlight key issues that need to be addressed in the treatment of rare diseases in the UAE. The talks coincided with the announcement of the launch of Sobi Biopharmaceuticals, an integrated biopharmaceutical company.

The panel discussion, titled Rare Diseases and Genetics in the Middle East, examined the current status of orphan diseases and the limited range of associated treatments currently available in the region. It also explored strategies for improving diagnosis, and facilitating research and development of rare disease therapies in the UAE.

Dr Amin Al Amiri, assistant undersecretary for medical practice and license sector in the UAE Ministry of Health, who led the discussion, said: “The UAE has made considerable effort to protect the community from rare and genetic diseases, for instance, the pre-marriage examination of couples to prevent the transmission of genetic diseases from parents to children. The UAE has also supported programmes related to early diagnosis and the development of treatment. The Ministry of Health in the UAE has been attracting foreign investments in the healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors, which has turned the attention of international companies towards the UAE market. Today, we host more than 90% of the major international pharmaceutical companies, most of which chose the UAE as a home for their headquarter operations.”

Panellists pointed out that the education and training of primary healthcare workers should play a key role and recommended the revision of medical and nursing college curricula in the practice of human genetics to offer practical guidelines in the approach to common genetic and congenital disorders. Additionally, panellists called for better education of the community by means of updating high school curricula and conducting mass media campaigns.

Wellness centre planned for Abu Dhabi’s Saadiyat Island

US-based company DNA Health Corp, has appointed Dr Mikhail Kogan as chief medical advisor for its planned integrative medicine and wellness centre due to open in early 2013 on Abu Dhabi’s Saadiyat Island. This follows a recent partnership agreement for the Saadiyat Island centre to be affiliated with the United States’ GW Centre for Integrative Medicine in Washington DC, where Dr Kogan currently holds the position of medical director.

Dr Nasim Ashraf, chairman and chief executive officer at DNA Health Corp, said: “The DNA Centre for Integrative Medicine and Wellness on Abu Dhabi’s Saadiyat Island is designed to be our global flagship and a centre of excellence for health and wellness in the region. The UAE is recognised as one of the world’s leading emerging health and wellness tourism destinations, forecasting AED6.1 billion (US$1.66 billion) in revenue. Under the assured guidance and integrative medical leadership of Dr Kogan, we believe we will be setting an unparalleled standard for 21st century holistic family health care in the Middle East – in a safe, accessible and luxurious destination.”

Situated within The Collection retail complex at the five-star St Regis Saadiyat Island Resort Abu Dhabi, the DNA Centre for Integrative Medicine and Wellness, will provide its clients with access to modern medicine, advanced diagnostics and cellular therapies, with treatment programmes complemented by a variety of traditional and alternative therapies to achieve optimum health.

Swiss Lab Dom opens regional office in Dubai

Lab Dom (Suisse), the Swiss regenerative medicine and cellular therapy company, has announced that it is establishing regional headquarters in Dubai, marking the beginning of the company’s strategy to shift operations and manufacturing to the UAE.

Explaining Lab Dom’s foray into the Middle East, Michael Lodge, Lab Dom’s chief executive officer, said: “Cellular rejuvenation has revolutionised the antiageing industry and Lab Dom’s range of ground-breaking products is leading the way in providing lasting rejuvenative solutions. The decision to launch a regional office in Dubai is part of our strategy to extend Lab Dom’s global reach, as well as providing access to an increasingly influential market. The discerning Middle Eastern consumer is astute to the new technologies arriving in the market and is driven to look and feel their best, and Lab Dom’s innovative range of products will empower them to achieve this.”

Website for osteoporosis info launched in Middle East

Anlene, whose parent company is Fonterra, the world’s largest dairy producer, has launched to share advice about maintaining strong and healthy bones, offer recommendations on where to turn for professional help in the Middle East, post videos with personal advice from the Anlene Board of Ambassadors and offer website visitors the chance to pose bone health questions to Anlene experts. is updated with the latest news and developments on bone health in the region on a weekly basis, and Kamal Gupta, managing director of Fonterra Brands Middle East and North Africa, says the company is hoping the site will become an indispensable source for anyone with a question on osteoporosis or bone health.

Report raises concerns of antibiotic resistance in UAE

Preliminary findings from the Abu Dhabi Antibiotic Resistance Surveillance Report 2011 say that overall the development of antibiotic resistance among human pathogens in Abu Dhabi is a serious concern and that several resistance rates have increased significantly compared to published local rates from previous years. One of the main pillars of the Health Authority Abu Dhabi (HAAD) strategy to combat the spread of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is the AD ARS system, which enables continuous monitoring and surveillance of antimicrobial resistance data.

The report states that of particular concern in the healthcare setting is the prevention and control of multi-drug resistant organisms, such as Methicillinresistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Vancomycin-resistant Enterococci (VRE), extended spectrum beta-lactamase (ESBL) producing E. coli and Klebsiella strains, multi drug-resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MDR-TB) and other organisms with relevant single or multiple resistances.

DHA’s Nabadat saves 250 kids with congenital heart disease

Dubai Health Authority’s (DHA) new healthcare brand, Nabadat, which was set up to provide life-saving operations for children with congenital heart problems, has saved more than 250 lives. Nabadat’s mission is to save children’s lives and help families, as well as to facilitate knowledge transfer that will enhance Dubai’s human capabilities in the long term.

Since 2007, the Dubai Health Authority and the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Humanitarian and Charity Establishment have collaborated to save lives after realising that, each year, up to 100 children in Dubai alone have congenital heart diseases that need surgical interventions. This has culminated in the launch of Nabadat (meaning “pulses”).

Under the Nabadat partnership, the DHA will facilitate regional visits by renowned international heart experts, jointly handling the costs and logistics with the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Humanitarian and Charity Establishment.

Diabetes care course for doctors

More than 70 doctors signed up for a diabetes qualification or course with BMJ Learning, an online provider of professional development for health professionals, in collaboration with the University of Leicester. The course began with two days of introductory lectures based on the International Diabetes Federation’s (IDF) curriculum and with local expertise and is followed by distance learning online.

The course provides students with the knowledge and skills needed to tackle the challenges of diabetes prevention and management and apply it in practice to improve patient outcomes. The course is also delivered online so learners can fit their study around their busy schedules.

BMJ diabetes course

FedEx celebrates 30 years with Orbis Flying Eye Hospital

FedEx Express celebrated 30 years of partnership with the Orbis Flying Eye Hospital, a mobile hospital dedicated to treating and preventing blindness in developing countries. The Orbis Flying Eye Hospital is the world’s only airborne ophthalmic training facility housed inside a DC-10 aircraft, which has been maintained by FedEx for 30 years. The aircraft is fully fitted with a state-of-the-art operating theatre, healthcare innovations and solutions needed to improve and restore patients’ sight. Since its inception in 1982, volunteer pilots from FedEx have been flying the dedicated team of doctors, nurses and technicians to remote locations across the globe, restoring the eyesight of people in 77 countries. Along with its on-the-ground programmes, Orbis has trained more than 300,000 medical professionals and provided over 18 million treatments to people from 90 countries.

Paediatric summit looks at rotavirus

Paediatric experts from the region attending the 2nd Annual GCC Paediatric Summit in Dubai, discussed strategic issues regarding pathogenesis, management and prevention of serious paediatric disorders, with a strong focus on neonatal screening programmes, nutrition, vaccines, endocrinological disorders, behavioural disorders, household poisoning, child abuse and metabolic disorders.

One seminar looked at a UAE study – sponsored by Glaxo SmithKline – in which researchers investigated children who were admitted to hospitals with gastroenteritis over the course of a year. They identified those cases caused by rotavirus and analysed this group. They found there was a total of 6,323 cases admitted to the participating hospitals. Of these, 758 cases were eligible for the study. The study revealed that 381 cases, or 50.3%, of the subjects tested, were rota positive while the remaining 377, or 49.7%, tested negative. The study showed that 88% of rota positive cases were among those aged three and under. Interestingly, while cases occurred throughout the year, there was a peak in the month of February.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) states that vaccination is the only measure to control rotavirus infections worldwide and recommends that rotavirus vaccine should be included in all national vaccination programmes.

APIC launches UAE Chapter

The Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) has announced the introduction of its UAE chapter, which is supported by 3M and Sheikh Khalifa Medical City (SKMC), managed by Cleveland Clinic.

The association’s second UAE chapter meeting, held in Dubai, was attended by heads of infection prevention divisions from major hospitals around the UAE along with more than 20 delegates including infection control heads, infection control practitioners, infection preventionists, microbiologists and CSSD managers from across the country.

Stefan Weber, president of APIC’s UAE chapter said: “At APIC, we are on a mission to create a safer world through prevention of infection as the healthcare system has reached a critical juncture between patient safety, infection prevention and quality of care. We are delighted to launch APIC’s chapter in the UAE and are confident that infection prevention professionals in the country and across the Middle East region will benefit immensely with access to expert resources and international collaboration with global APIC chapters.”

Mafraq Hospital raises the bar on women’s health

Mafraq Hospital, Abu Dhabi, has launched a screening and health education initiative for women called Ana Rosa, meaning ‘I am Rose’ in Arabic. One of the key topics addressed by the programme is the burden of breast cancer – the second leading cause of death in females in Abu Dhabi. With a goal to reduce the risk of breast cancer across the UAE by spreading awareness and education on breast health, Ana Rosa is providing information on screening procedures, preventative measures and tips for staying healthy. The programme also offers information on cervical cancer and other important health information targeted exclusively towards women.


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