Plague spreads in Iraq’s slums


According to a report in Iraq’s Alghad Press, communicated by ProMED mail, Iraq’s Parliamentary Health and Environment Committee revealed on 24 September 2017 the spread of plague and called for a national campaign against rodents that are causing the disease.

The deputy head of the Parliamentary Health and Environment Committee, Fares Al-Barefkani, told Alghad Press that “new cases of plague have been identified, and the causes of the disease are known and are related to the poor municipal, disease control, sewage, and landfill services, in addition to widespread residential slums.”

Al-Barefkani indicated that “there are a lot of residential slums that have emerged and are not under the control of Baghdad municipality and lack health services.” He called for “a serious national campaign to combat rodents in the residential neighbourhoods that cause plague and provide medicines that help to eliminate the disease” and stressed that “there is a need to support Baghdad municipality and the health and the environment directorates to educate people on how to combat plague.”

Al-Barefkani added that “the Parliamentary Health and Environment Committee does not have accurate data on the number of cases because we are in the process of follow-up in all the governorates.”


Zulekha ‘Pink It Now’ sees record numbers of women seeking screening for breast cancer

THE UAE’s Zulekha Healthcare Group’s breast cancer campaign, ‘Pink It Now’, has witnessed record breaking numbers of women attending its hospitals for free screenings and consultations. The campaign, which is now in its sixth-year, has seen a 59% increase in women attending check-ups compared to 2015.

The screenings are open to all women including residents and visitors to the UAE during October to December and is in support of the UAE’s efforts to decrease cancer fatalities by 18% by 2021.

The group had the honour of being joined by His Excellency Humaid Al Qatami, Chairman of the Board and Director General of Dubai Health Authority (DHA); Dr Marwan Mohd Al Mulla, Director Health Regulations, DHA; Dr Hussain Abdul Rahman Al Rand, Assistant Undersecretary of Health Centers and Clinics Sector, Ministry of Health & Prevention, Dr Layla Al Marzouqi, Director - Dubai Medical Tourism Project, DHA, Shri Vipul, Consul General of India, and many other esteemed guests for the 2017 ‘Pink It Now’ inauguration.

The ‘Pink It Now’ campaign aims to raise awareness about breast cancer, the importance of early detection and the benefit of regular check-ups. Survivors shared their experiences just after the launch of an exclusive cancer support forum of Zulekha Hospital this year named “Pink Knights”. The forum will continue to connect survivors who have battled against cancer and emerged successful with a new ray of life.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 8.8 million people died from cancer globally, of which up to 30-50 per cent of cancers could be prevented and breast cancer is the top cancer in women across the world.

Dr Pamela Munster, renowned cancerexpert from the University of California in San Francisco, United States and the campaign’s chief ambassador, commented: “It is these staggering figures that reveal the important role of early detection in order to save the lives of women all over the world. As healthcare professionals, it is our duty to better educate women in the UAE and empower them to take charge of their health. In doing so, the campaign helps to reduce breast cancer fatalities in the UAE.”

‘Pink It Now,’ supported by partners Friends of Cancer Patients, Pink Caravan, Ford Warriors in Pink – Ford MENA, MAI Dubai,, UBER, Bhima Jewellers,, Star TV network, BIG FM radio, Air Arabia, Pallazo Versace and The Health Bank, is one of Zulekha Hospital’s core CSR initiatives, stressing the importance of strategies for cancer prevention, early detection and management of patients with the disease.

In addition to free X-ray mammogram and consultations with oncologists and gynaecologists, the hospital offers 50% discounted rates on ultrasound tests.


Remote heart monitoring program expands in the region

From the UAE to Saudi Arabia and as far afield as Croatia, Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi’s cutting-edge remote heart monitoring program is helping to save patients’ lives in the comfort of their own homes.

Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, part of Mubadala’s network of healthcare providers, and the region’s leading heart care centre, launched the UAE’s first remote heart monitoring program in August 2015. Run by the hospital’s Heart & Vascular Institute, the program has grown to include 186 patients, all of whom are monitored via their implantable cardiac devices, such as pacemakers and defibrillators.

Real-time heart monitoring is a relatively new concept in the GCC, but a report by Swedish market research firm Berg Insight has forecast that 19 million people worldwide will be using remote patient monitoring by 2018, with the GCC earmarked as one of the biggest regions for growth.

The benefits of remote heart monitoring are numerous, and include lowering mortality and morbidity, minimizing check-ups and hospitalizations for patients, boosting patient outcomes, and improving patients’ lifestyles. “Evidence of the program’s value has been proven by a sharp decline in the hospitalization of some patients with heart failure,” said Dr Khalid Al Muti, an Electrophysiologist in the Heart & Vascular Institute at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi.

“We have some patients who were previously admitted to the hospital regularly, but have not been admitted since they started with the remote heart monitoring program.”

Patients are provided with a wireless console that, when plugged into an electrical outlet, automatically sends reports from the patient’s implanted device to a secure website, which is monitored by the remote team of technicians. When the device detects fluid accumulation or an arrhythmia, the cardiologist calls the patient and provides appropriate guidance, allowing them to intercept problems between check-ups.

The same technology is used for patients with syncope (sudden collapsing), palpitations or atrial fibrillation, who are monitored via an implantable loop recorder that has been inserted under the skin. The wireless console again transmits abnormal findings to the treating cardiologists, allowing them to remotely establish a diagnosis and monitor the patient’s response to therapy.

“These heart devices communicate with the patient’s doctor and technicians in our remote centre. If there is an abnormality and the patient receives a shock to their heart, for instance, we can react instantly and get them to hospital quickly for treatment,” said Dr Al Muti.

“The devices are for all ages. We have a young man who is 14 with a family history of heart disease, and he is receiving remote monitoring to make sure we detect any abnormalities. It was implanted after two of his immediate family members died from heart issues. At the other extreme, we have patients in their eighties who have a variety of implantable devices for remote heart monitoring, which send us reports continuously,” he added.

Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi performs innovative heart valve surgery

Physicians at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi have successfully performed a transcatheter double-valve procedure, in a clinical first for the region.

The patient, Maryam Abdallah, was a 68-year-old UAE national suffering from valvular heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes mellitus, and a range of related conditions. She was transferred to Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi for treatment for severe aortic and mitral stenosis and recurrent decompensated heart failure.

Having been treated in 2012 at a Dubai hospital with a heart valve to help manage her condition, the patient experienced a sudden deterioration in 2016, when her heart started to fail again. Complicating things further, she had degeneration of her native mitral valve with severe mitral stenosis, meaning that both the aortic and mitral valves were restricted and not opening well.

In addition, multiple and prolonged hospitalizations for heart failure had significantly weakened the patient, restricting the range of potential treatments that could be performed safely. As a result of these limited treatment options, the patient was offered minimally invasive, valve-in-valve TAVR and transcatheter treatment of her mitral valve.

Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) is a minimally invasive procedure that offers high risk patients an alternative to standard open-heart surgery. This patient presented a unique challenge as she had two separate valve disorders and required valve-in-valve transcatheter valve replacement for the degenerated aortic valve prosthesis, as well as transcatheter mitral valve replacement (TMVR) using a transcatheter valve in the native mitral position.

Rakesh M. Suri, MD, chief of staff and chief of thoracic & cardiovascular surgery at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, explains: “The patient was too high-risk for surgical intervention due to her health issues and more importantly due to the nature of her valve disease. Instead, a multidisciplinary heart team made the decision to perform a transcatheter double- valve procedure, placing a new valve within the existing aortic valve and another valve in the native mitral position, all performed via a small incision in her chest, in order to save her life and improve her quality of life.”

Using innovative cardiac computed tomography (CT) software, the team was able to construct a three-dimensional model to help determine the size and position of the planned transcatheter aortic and mitral valves. More importantly, the team was able to simulate placement of the valves prior to surgery in order to plan the procedure accordingly.

Ahmad Edris, MD, staff physician in cardiovascular medicine and interventional cardiology at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, explains the importance of this case: “This was a complex procedure that required a lot of planning and could only be addressed by an international, multidisciplinary heart team that Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi was able to call upon.”

The surgical intervention was successfully performed in a hybrid operating room by a team of physicians from the Heart & Vascular Institute and required the collaborative effort of several physicians. The preclinical team worked on scenarios for approximately two weeks ahead of surgery, drawing on international expertise, and we were able to deploy the valves and the technology to make the operation possible,” said Dr Suri.

The patient was discharged ten days after the surgery and is making significant progress. She has endured no repeat hospitalizations for heart failure and continues to come to Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi for regular check-ups.

HMC launches new blood transfer monitoring program

Qatar’s Hamad Medical Corporation’s (HMC) committee for blood transfusion announced a new program that monitors blood transfer procedures in the country. The Centralized Hemovigilance Program improves the quality of the blood transfusion chain, primarily focusing on safety.

Dr Aisha Ibrahim Al Malki, Assistant Executive Director of Medical Services and Chair of the Blood Transfusion Committee and Centralized Haemovigilance Program said: “This program is the first of its kind in Qatar and the Arab region and aims to improve the blood transfusion system by providing an extra level of safety for donors and recipients. It improves the quality of the blood transfusion chain, primarily focusing on safety.”

A blood transfusion chain is a system for storing and transporting blood and blood products from the point of collection from a blood donor to the point of transfusion to a patient.

The new program improves the overall quality of the collection, storage, testing and distribution of blood and its components, reporting any complications or errors in blood transfer.

Dr Al Malki said the program will be initially implemented at HMC and then it will be widely introduced across all healthcare facilities in Qatar that collect, use or store blood and blood components.

Abu Dhabi’s ICLDC and Healthpoint establish integrated thyroid clinic

Imperial College London Diabetes Centre (ICLDC), part of Mubadala’s network of healthcare providers, and Abu Dhabi’s one-stop-shop for the treatment, prevention, education and research of diabetes, has partnered with its sister facility, Healthpoint, a multi-speciality hospital in Abu Dhabi, to establish a new integrated thyroid clinic. This collaboration will enable patients to have their thyroid related problems managed in a combined multidisciplinary setting.

The joint clinic, to be located at ICLDC’s Zayed Sports City branch in Abu Dhabi, will use the combined expertise of Mubadala’s healthcare entities to offer an integrated approach to thyroid care. Specialist services will include consultation, testing, diagnosis, risk estimation and surgery, addressing a variety of thyroid-related conditions, such as nodules, goitres, Graves’ disease, thyroid cancer and parathyroid adenoma.

The clinic will be equipped to perform a wide range of procedures, such as thyroid examination, non-invasive ultrasonography, ultrasound-guided fine-needle aspiration (FNA), thyroid nodule ablation (with sclerosing agent or thermal ablation), and various types of surgery including partial and total thyroidectomy as well as parathyroidectomy.

The expert team will comprise specialist thyroid surgeon Dr Luaay Aziz from Healthpoint in addition to three endocrinologists from ICLDC – Dr Aly Bernard Khalil, Dr Ali Bakir and Dr Safdar Naqvi.

Suhail Mahmood Al Ansari, Chairman of Healthpoint and Imperial College London Diabetes Centre, and Executive Director of Mubadala Healthcare, said: “The partnership between ICLDC and Healthpoint is set to greatly enhance Mubadala’s healthcare offering. We are committed to best practice, and our latest venture aligns with our mandate of promoting medical excellence, providing the highest quality of care, and facilitating clinical collaboration and knowledge transfer.”

He added: “In bringing our best medical specialists together under one roof to offer thyroid patients peace of mind, we are confident the new clinic’s expertise in this specific area of medicine will go a long way towards elevating the standards of thyroid care in the region.”

WHO condemns attacks on hospitals and health workers in Idlib and Hama

WHO has condemned multiple reported attacks on Syrian health facilities and personnel on 19 September 2017 which killed and injured health workers and disrupted health services for thousands of people.

According to WHO local partners, several ambulances and hospitals in Idleb province were reportedly hit by airstrikes within a few hours.

All three hospitals in Kafr Nabl, Khan Sheikhoun and Heish sub-districts are no longer in service.

An attack on a hospital specializing inmaternal and paediatric services in Heish killed one health worker and severely injured another.

The hospital, which sustained significant structural damage, previously provided an average 13,150 consultations, 2,360 admissions, 1,500 major surgeries and care for 1,500 warrelated trauma cases every month. The hospitals in Kafr Nabl and Khan Sheikhoun previously each registered 2,300 and 800 consultations per month, along with surgeries and trauma care.

In northern rural Hama, near the town of Atshan, two paramedics were reportedly killed in an attack that destroyed two ambulances. These attacks deprive civilians caught in the crossfire of the critical trauma care and health services they need.

Syria is among the most dangerous countries in the world to be a health worker – it ranks highest for attacks on health facilities and personnel. WHO has documented credible reports of nearly 100 attacks on health workers and facilities this year and 207 attacks in 2016.

WHO urges all parties to the conflict to refrain from attacking civilians and civilian infrastructure, as required by International Humanitarian Law.

New Code of Ethical Business Practice to be adopted by medical technology industry across MENA

The region’s medical technology industry is in the midst of positive transformation, as members of Mecomed, the medical technology association in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), have approved a new Code of Ethical Business Practice. The new set of guidelines is in tone with those adopted by other trade associations in North America and Europe. This serves as vital move for the region’s medical devices, imaging and diagnostics industry, as it ensures the highest international ethical standards and best practice through more stringent self-regulation.

Rami Rajab, Chairman of Mecomed, said: “It has been an ongoing endeavour of the MENA medical technology industry, to not only ensure the highest standard of ethics in business practice, but also to drive its growth and evolution and adapt in a fast-changing environment. We believe that the adoption of one of the most modern and progressive codes of conduct, with strict, clear and transparent rules, is a leap forward for the industry and for healthcare in the region.”

The move is expected to further strengthen patient trust in the medical sector and standards of care in the region, contributing to principal aims of the governments of the MENA region, including UAE/ KSA to provide the highest standards of healthcare locally, and to reduce the numbers of patients travelling abroad for care.

The Mecomed Member Code of Ethical Business Practice regulates all aspects of the industry’s relationship with Healthcare Professionals (HCPs) and Healthcare Organizations (HCOs), such as company-organized events, arrangements with consultants, research, and financial support to medical education, amongst others. It will become binding for Mecomed corporate members by 1 January 2018. The Code also introduces a common independent enforcement mechanism, and will set the minimum standard by which industry members operate across the MENA region.

National Reference Laboratory becomes first fully-automated referral lab in the UAE

National Reference Laboratory (NRL), part of Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala’s network of world-class healthcare providers, has become the first fully-automated referral laboratory in the UAE, enabling NRL to deliver high-quality patient results in the shortest time possible. NRL was created in partnership with and is managed by Laboratory Corporation of America Holdings (LabCorp), a world leading life sciences company providing comprehensive clinical laboratory services.

The Total Laboratory Automation (TLA) solution, installed in the core lab of NRL at ICAD in Abu Dhabi, will further boost the capabilities of NRL, which through its network of ten laboratories currently processes more than 500,000 tests per month for over 200 clients across the MENA region.

The unique TLA set-up at NRL, one of the latest innovations by the diagnostics leader, Roche Diagnostics, covers all phases of the testing process: pre-analytics, analytics, and post-analytics. One of the key benefits of the system is the significant reduction in percentage of human error, which typically occurs in around 60-70% of sample processing in the preanalytic stage.

Abdul Hamid Oubeisi, Chief Executive Officer of NRL, commented: “The adoption of total laboratory automation is an exciting development for our patients and staff and has already brought multiple benefits for our patients and in our operations. Backed by the highest standards of clinical laboratory services, we go an extra mile to serve our patients and clients. With about 70% of medical decisions influenced by laboratory results, NRL’s investment into a completely automated system minimizing the risk of human errors, highlights our commitment to deliver high-quality care to patients and to offer fast and accurate results to our clients.”



Date of upload: 16th Nov 2017

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