Dubai Health Authority and Dubai Silicon Oasis sign MoU

Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority (DSOA) on 4 July signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Dubai Health Authority (DHA) to coordinate the licensing processes of healthcare services and treatment providers aiming to operate out of Dubai Silicon Oasis, the integrated free zone technology park. The agreement will take into account all applicable federal and local laws in the UAE.

Qadhi Saeed Al Murooshid, directorgeneral of Dubai Health Authority, and Dr Mohammed Al Zarooni, vice-president and chief executive officer of Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority, signed the MoU at Dubai Health Authority in the presence of senior officials.

The MoU decrees the formation of a joint working committee elected by Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority and Dubai Health Authority. It will coordinate between the two parties to implement the MoU, monitor and classify health facilities established at DSO, and ensure that the cluster offers a high level of service to professionals, enterprises and institutions of the healthcare sector. The body will also oversee and address problems faced by these institutions at the cluster.

AUB’s Dr Zaatari receives prestigious award for advancing international medical education

Dr Ghazi S. Zaatari, chairman of the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the American University of Beirut (AUB), has received this year's Samuel P. Asper Award for Achievement in Advancing International Medical Education from the Johns Hopkins Medical and Surgical Association.

Dr Zaatari, who is also the associate dean for faculty affairs at AUB's Faculty of Medicine, received his residency training at Johns Hopkins in the late 1970s.

In his letter to Dr Zaatari, informing him of his selection for the award, Dr William A. Crawley, president of the Johns Hopkins Medical and Surgical Association, called him “one of the most prominent academic pathologists and medical educators in the Arab countries and the Middle East”.

“Your leadership of local, regional and international organisations has given rise to dozens, if not hundreds of other advances for your home country,” Crawley added in his letter.

The presentation of the award to Dr Zaatari was made during the 36th Biennial Meeting of The Johns Hopkins Medical and Surgical Association and the School of Medicine’s Reunion Weekend in June 2011.

Etisalat sets up cardiology eHealth pilot project with GE Healthcare

In line with its vision of leveraging technology to further enhance the quality of healthcare in the United Arab Emirates, Etisalat, the telecommunications company, has successfully implemented the UAE’s first e-Health solution for cardiology in partnership with GE Healthcare. The initiative has the potential to reduce cardiovascular disease (CVD) and related ailments in the UAE.

A pilot project has been implemented at the RAK Hospital. It enables remote ECG monitoring, allowing cardiologists to use GE’s MUSE ECG data management system, to electronically receive and analyse ECG’s on their computers and smartphones.

This solution makes it possible for cardiologists to read, review and analyse ECGs, from the hospital or home at any time. Besides providing Electronic Patient Record storage and management, through Etisalat Data Centers, the solution also enables serial ECG comparison, by analysing previous ECGs of the patient to the current one, thereby keeping a progressive track of the cardiac health status of the patient.

Commenting on the solution Paul Taylor, executive vice president, Business at Etisalat said: “With the increasing need to limit the risks of cardiovascular diseases in UAE, it is necessary for healthcare providers to deploy innovative and enabling technologies to tackle these medical challenges whilst at the same time optimising cost efficiencies.

“Being cloud based, the strength of this solution lies in its ubiquity and cost-effectiveness. Remote hospitals and clinics in the UAE can deploy this service at a fraction of the cost, and benefit from expert cardiology advice from bigger hospitals such as RAK hospital, enabling effective and timely patient care,” he said.

Etisalat has deployed GE’s MUSE Cardiology Information system on a SaaS (Software as a service) business model to provide accurate cardiac assessments to hospitals and clinics, without requiring them to invest in expensive hardware and software. Such a solution would be extremely beneficial for remote hospitals and clinics that have limited access to cardiologists.

Egypt allocates US$100m to tackle HCV

According to a report by IRIN, Egypt has stepped up efforts to curb the hepatitis C virus (HCV) by opening treatment centres, offering free drugs to the poor and launching a massive public awareness campaign.

“We managed to dedicate more money for the treatment of the virus this year,” said Waheed Doss, chairman of the National Anti-Virus C Campaign, a staterun effort to fight the disease.

The high prevalence of HCV in Egypt is due in part to an earlier government campaign to fight schistosomiasis or bilharziasis. From the late 1950s to the early 1980s teams went from village to village taking stool and urine samples. People infected with the worms were administered shots of tartar emetic. However, at that time it was not known the needles were infected with HCV from some of these patients and because they were rarely sterilised sufficiently to kill the virus, HCV was subsequently spread throughout the country.

Egypt has allocated US$100 million for the treatment of hepatitis C this year, and a national HCV database has been created for the first time to enable health planners to develop policies for combating the virus.

It is estimated that three in every 1,000 children carry the virus. This indicates that the total number of children with hepatitis C in Egypt is 240,000, still only a fraction of the number of older Egyptians carrying the same virus.

Doss says 25% of people over 50, and 3% of those aged 15-30, have hepatitis C. Around 160,000 Egyptians took anti- HCV vaccines last year and the government plans to give the vaccines to more Egyptians in the years to come.

Specialised liver disease centres have also been set up.

“The centres offer indispensable services to children carrying the virus,” said Manal Hamdy Al Sayed, a member of the National Anti-Virus C Campaign. “One of the things they do is to decide on the kind of treatment course the children should follow.”

However, IRIN reports that government funding for the treatment of hepatitis C still falls short of national needs.

“The problem with this disease is that its treatment is very costly,” said Hussein Al Ameen, a specialist at Assuit University. “This means the government needs to spend more and more money if it wants to stop its high tide.”

Experts say a patient’s treatment costs up to US$8,333 a year, but that a large number cannot pay for their treatment, meaning that the government has to pick up the tab.

Hospital Build award winners announced

The winners for the 2011 Hospital Build Middle East Awards were announced 13 June 2011 at the 3rd Hospital Build Middle East Exhibition & Congress in Dubai.

The winners for the six award categories are as follows: Best Physical Environment – Al Seef Hospital, Kuwait; Best Sustainable Hospital Project – Al Jalila Children’s Hospital, UAE; Best Healing Environment – RAK Hospital, UAE; Best Hospital Design (Built) – International Medical Centre, KSA; Best Hospital Design (Future) – Bahrain Royal Maternity Hospital, Bahrain, and Best Technology Initiative (a new category introduced this year) – My MD, by Creative Zone, UAE.

The judging panel, which included Ted Jacobs, president and founder of Ted Jacobs Engineering Group from the USA, Malek El Husseini, business development director, GE Healthcare Middle East, Kamil Eid, managing director, Ventures Healthcare, and Karen Reno, consultant, Joint Commission Resources, examined more than 190 nominations submitted by healthcare facilities from around the Middle East region.

Is malaria back in Egypt?

A report in Al Masry Al Youm says the Beni Suef health department has declared a state of emergency after claiming to have discovered the governorate’s first case of malaria. Egypt’s MoH denied the report, saying that the country was free of the disease.

According to the report, Magdy Hazin, head of preventive medicine at the Beni Suef health department, said that a 62- year-old from Beba has been hospitalised at the Fever Hospital in Beni Suef after testing positive for malaria. Hazin said the patient was responding to medication and that samples had been taken from more than 200 of the patient's relatives and sent to Cairo for analysis.

The infectious diseases watch group – International Society for Infectious Diseases (ISID) – refers to the report in their regular communication – Promedmail – and adds that since 1998, no indigenous malaria cases were registered by the Malaria Control Programme throughout the whole country. “Without a reservoir, it is difficult to explain a single case except as imported or transmitted from an imported case.”

The ISID points out that malaria diagnosis relies on microscopy of thick blood films, and “it is not clear whether the present case has been confirmed or not. Many infections can easily be confused with malaria”.

It says that one of the main concerns of the National Malaria Control Programme is to prevent the proliferation of ‘Anopheles arabiensis’ mosquitoes from Sudan into the Egyptian territory along the shores of Lake Nasser, which was formed as a result of the completion of the Aswan High Dam in 1970.

Egypt has suffered catastrophic epidemics of malaria. In 1942-1943 an epidemic in Upper Egypt caused by Anopheles arabiensis resulted in up to 180,000 deaths. However after intensive control programmes in the 1990s the country managed to eradicate malaria. A formal report from the MoH in 2005 indicated that there were only 25 cases and all were imported from Sierra Leone and Sudan.

Oral MS drug approved by Oman MoH

Oman has licensed the world’s first oral medication for Multiple Sclerosis (MS), a move which medical experts say will improve medication tolerability and compliance for many of Oman’s 200 MS sufferers.

The Oman Ministry of Health has approved the Novartis-made drug Gilenya (fingolimod) for use in the relapsing remitting form of MS that affects around twothirds of those diagnosed with the disease, which causes muscle weakness, problems with coordination and impaired concentration.

Making the new oral tablets available will remove the need for patients to undergo regular injections, allowing patients to enjoy a less restricted way of life and improving medication acceptance and compliance for those who cannot tolerate injections, said a leading Oman-based doctor who specialises in MS. Improved medication acceptance and compliance will optimize patient outcomes.

Fingolimod, which has also been approved in Kuwait, UAE, Bahrain, US, Russia, Canada, Australia, Switzerland and Europe.

Research figures show MS affects around 25 to 50 people in every 100,000 in Arabic populations and about 100 per 100,000 in Northern European countries.

Surgical training in Iraq

The International Children’s Heart Foundation (ICHF), a non-profit organization headquartered in the United States dedicated to providing lifesaving surgical care to children with congenital heart disease throughout the developing world, has issued a statement following the signing in July of a medical training agreement between the Ibn Al-Bitar Specialized Center for Cardiac Surgery in Baghdad and the Hotel-Dieu De France Hospital in Beirut, Lebanon.

The medical training agreement states that the staff of Ibn Al-Bitar will receive training from the charity Heartbeat and international NGO Chain of Hope to improve the skills needed to perform heart surgeries on infants.

Commenting on this agreement ICHF says it has been training, educating and performing complex children’s heart surgeries at Nasiriyah Heart Center in Iraq since 2010, and is developing another programme with the Iraqi Ministry of Health to continue there long term.

Alberto Mazan, ICHF’s CEO said: “The goal of our educational programme is to empower the local medical professionals to be selfsustaining after completion of our curriculum. Our agreement with the Iraqi Ministry of Health means that the children of Iraq will have consistent heart healthcare at Nasiriyah Heart Center for at least a year while the Baghdad staff at Ibn Al-Bitarare complete their training.”

A new Nasiriyah Heart Center is under construction and should be completed by the end of 2011. The new hospital has three floors, four operating rooms, 15 ICU beds and 90 patient beds. Also under construction, Ibn Al-Bitar is being rebuilt because of severe damage during the war. It will be finished in 2012.

UEMedical partners with Singapore’s Parkway to provide luxury wellness centre for women

United Eastern Medical (UEMedical), an Abu Dhabi-based healthcare investment and development company, signed a letter of intent with Parkway of Singapore to bring a luxury “one-stop” medical and health screening facility exclusively for women to the UAE capital. The LUXE Wellness Center for Women will join UEMedical’s growing portfolio of premium outpatient centres.

The LUXE Wellness Centre for Women will offer health screening in a luxurious setting and aims to support the Abu Dhabi Health Authority (HAAD) in its population screening and intervention program ‘Weqaya’. The Centre will provide specialized diagnostic screening alongside an elaborate aesthetics programme.

This is the second partnership between UEMedical and Parkway. In 2008, UEMedical and Parkway signed an agreement to manage the Danat Al Emarat Women & Children's Hospital in Abu Dhabi, due to be completed in 2012.

HAAD updates qualification requirements for healthcare professionals

The Health Authority – Abu Dhabi (HAAD) has updated the Personal Qualification Requirements (PQR) for healthcare professionals who wish to become licensed to practise in the Emirate.

Among a number of updates, the latest PQR will reduce the length of experience required for the first level (Tr1) from three years to two years; this will in turn allow qualified citizens to become specialised doctors as soon as they meet the qualifications of the second level (Tr2).

Shaikha Mohammed Al Daheiry, Section Head Credentialing and Licensingm, said: “The changes in the new PQR were to encourage local emirate citizens to join in the sectors of health and to continue in the medical field.”

Statistics showing the number of health professionals in Abu Dhabi were also released. In 201 the total number of health professionals was 19,310, including 4,757 doctors, 879 dentists, 8,221 nurses and 5,246 aides professional.

Female local citizens working in the health sector account for 21%, 6% are working as professional assistants, 1% nurses, 7% dentists, 7% doctors. Male local citizens in comparison make up 7% of the total, 4% of them doctors, 2% dentists and 1% professional aides.

Experts call for greater regional collaboration to manage HCV

Scientific medical experts from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region have issued a joint statement calling for national and local governments and healthcare providers to join forces to address the challenges posed by chronic hepatitis C in the region. It is estimated that 9.2 million people in the region are infected with HCV.

The call was made in Dubai on World Hepatitis Day – 27 July – and follows the release of results from a 12-country study in the MENA region last year by the international scientific agency PharmARC with support from MSD, a global pharmaceutical and healthcare products company.

Key points of the joint statement are:
- Hepatitis C is highly prevalent in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region with variations in prevalence from country to country.

- An estimated 9.2 million people with chronic hepatitis C infection reside among the countries included in the study. Experts estimate that only one third of those infected have been diagnosed.

- For most MENA countries, the prevalence of hepatitis C antibody positivity is estimated to be between 1-2%; the exception is Egypt for which the estimated prevalence is around 14% for adults aged 15-60 years.

- HCV genotype 4 (HCV-4) is particularly common in the Middle East and North Africa, where it is responsible for 30-80% of HCV infections.

- Most countries have major deficiencies in their information and co-ordination systems, critical for the implementation of hepatitis C services.

The group called for a systematic approach to the collection of information on hepatitis C to improve the epidemiology of the virus. They also called for greater collaboration in the region with regards sharing of HCV data, best practice and technical advice.



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