Al Jalila Foundation has received a donation of AED 10 million from Aster DM

Healthcare, one of the leading healthcare conglomerates in the Middle East and India. The donation will help Al Jalila Foundation develop cutting-edge medical research to benefit the future health of the UAE.

Dr Raja Easa Al Gurg, Chairperson of the Board of Directors and Member of the Board of Trustees at Al Jalila Foundation, said: “For many years, Dr Moopen has had a significant influence on the UAE’s medical landscape, building a business while also giving back to society. I would like to take this opportunity to personally congratulate Dr Moopen for making such a positive difference to the UAE. We share a vision – to see our children grow up in a future devoid of cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity or mental illness. The Al Jalila Foundation’s medical research endowment fund provides the basis for such a future and we thank Dr Moopen and Aster DM Healthcare for this major contribution to support the advancement of medical research in the UAE.”

Dr Azad Moopen, Chairman and Managing Director of Aster DM Healthcare said: “We are extremely proud to be able to support the incredible work of Al Jalila Foundation. They are giving the next generation of medical professionals the opportunity to explore the medical sciences and discover solutions that will drastically improve the healthcare industry in the region. Aster DM Healthcare is honoured to be a part of Al Jalila Foundation’s scientific & philanthropic initiative in the area of healthcare to fulfil the vision of H H Sheikh Mohamed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President & Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai.”

Al Jalila Foundation to provide cochlear implants

Al Jalila Foundation, the global philanthropic organisation dedicated to transforming lives through medical education and research, has announced a new programme, Ana Asma’a (‘I hear’ in Arabic). Ana Asma’a is part of A’awen, Al Jalila Foundation’s treatment support programme, which will provide children in the UAE who suffer severe hearing loss with cutting-edge cochlear implants to restore hearing.

According to the World Health Organization, hearing impairment affects 360 million people globally (or 5% of the world’s population) and 32 million children under the age of 15. In the Middle East, hearing loss is one of the region’s top five health problems, estimated to affect 1 in 25 people. The condition mostly affects children from birth; other cases are a result of infections, injury or even from excessive noise. Studies show that loss of hearing has devastating consequences for interpersonal communication, psychosocial well-being, quality of life and economic independence; and early intervention is integral for the best chance of recovery.

The cochlear implant technology helps restore hearing using an electronic medical device implant that does the work of damaged parts of the inner ear (cochlea) to provide sound signals to the brain. The procedure is highly effective with young children as the early stages of brain development maximise the child’s ability to develop speech, language and listening skills, ultimately providing a greater chance of a normal life.

Dr Abdulkareem Al Olama, CEO of Al Jalila Foundation, commented: “Research has made such life-changing medical procedures possible. Today, cochlear implants can restore hearing and offer recipients an improved quality of life. We work with renowned healthcare partners to provide cutting-edge technologies to address hearing impairments in addition to post-operative medical care which includes rehabilitation and speech therapy.”

He added: “Through Ana Asma’a we are helping parents give their children the opportunity to undergo the latest medical procedures offering them renewed hope for their child’s future. We consider it an enormous privilege to be able to give children in the UAE the gift of hearing.”

AUBMC receives Grand Challenges Explorations grant for research

The American University of Beirut Medical Center and Faculty of Medicine is a Grand Challenges Explorations (GCE) winner, an initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Robert Habib, PhD of the Department of Internal Medicine at the American University of Beirut (Beirut, Lebanon) was awarded a Phase I GCE grant and will pursue an innovative global health and development research project, titled “Use of Physiologic Signal Complexity and Correlation Properties to Quantify Brain Development in Infants.”

Grand Challenges Explorations (GCE) funds individuals worldwide to explore ideas that can break the mold in how we solve persistent global health and development challenges. Dr Habib’s project is one of more than 50 Grand Challenges Explorations Round 14 grants announced by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation from over 1,700 applications.

To receive funding, Dr Robert Habib and other Grand Challenges Explorations winners demonstrated in a two-page online application a bold idea in one of five critical global heath and development topic areas that included development of the new ways to measure foetal and infant brain development.

“We are so happy with this news,” said Dr Habib. “The grant research will help us in exploring a novel, practical and indirect approach to quantify the extent of brain development of premature babies compared to healthy full term babies.”

Infants born prematurely will frequently suffer from brain development problems that may affect them in many ways and for the rest of their lives. Early intervention aimed at aiding the brain development in such infants may help reduce the long-term adverse effects. Yet, it is currently difficult, cumbersome, impractical and expensive to assess and quantify brain development in the very challenging infant population, explained Dr Habib.

The proposed research will be based on the concepts that heart and breathing rhythms, or patterns such as how fast and how deep, are ultimately controlled by the brain or central nervous system. Hence, it is reasoned that these patterns will be analyzed mathematically and the results will be different in premature (abnormal) versus full term (normal) babies.

The Principal Investigator will conduct the needed experimentation and analyses to address the above aims. If successful, this research will then provide a solid foundation for a larger systematic set of experiments under a Phase II Gates foundation grant. Such a grant would aim to further develop the novel approach such that it may be used with ease and anywhere needed from the hospital intensive care unit, to doctor clinics to the infant’s own home.

Moorfields, Dubai Medical College sign MoU for ophthalmology training

Dubai Medical College and Moorfields Eye Hospital Dubai (Moorfields) have agreed to collaborate in providing undergraduate students with training in Ophthalmology in accordance with the curriculum accredited for undergraduate medical education by the General Medical Council, UK. The training will commence in September 2015 for the final year students pursuing MBBCh degree at Dubai Medical College.

The Memorandum of Understanding was signed by the founder and Chairman of Dubai Medical College, Haj Saeed Ahmed Lootah and Mariano Gonzalez, Managing Director, Moorfields Eye Hospital Dubai. Professor Mohammed Galal El Din Ahmed said: “At Dubai Medical College we believe in collaboration for learning. Such collaborative ventures will help us enrich the curriculum by integrating specialized fields with the primary health care concept.”

Gonzalez, Managing Director of Moorfields Eye Hospital Dubai, added: “Moorfields’ mission in the Middle East includes providing world class treatment and care for patients but also teaching and research. This agreement with the prestigious Dubai Medical College will help us fulfil our mission and enable us to locally support female ophthalmology students in Dubai with undergraduate training to meet international standards.”

DHCC implements new health insurance law

Dubai Healthcare City Authority has released details on the implementation of the health insurance law within Dubai Healthcare City.

In June, workshops were conducted on the new Resolution No (8) of 2015 of the health insurance law, and its impact on existing and new healthcare facilities in Dubai Healthcare City.

As per the Resolution, which was announced in May, Dubai Healthcare City Authority is solely authorized to register healthcare facilities; to approve prices for healthcare services; and to monitor approved prices, among other responsibilities.

“Strengthening regulations is paramount as Dubai Healthcare City rolls out expansion plans and welcomes new business partners" said Dr Raja Al Gurg, Vice-Chairperson and Executive Director of Dubai Healthcare City Authority. “Medical insurance providers are an important stakeholder in healthcare delivery. The new Resolution will allow a closer dialogue between insurance providers and DHCC-based healthcare facilities to increase patient benefits and improve health outcomes.”

The Authority’s long-term goal is to facilitate maximum healthcare services under medical insurance cover and networks. Additional workshops are planned to formulate a medical insurance pricing model as per best practices.

In phases, the Authority will announce details on the implementation.

“The Resolution does not affect registered healthcare facilities and registered insurance providers in DHCC. These facilities and providers will continue to follow the pricing model in place at the time of registration and/or renewal,” said Dr Ramadan AlBlooshi, Managing Director, Dubai Healthcare City Authority – Regulatory.

The Resolution will have a direct impact on new clinical facilities, and on complaints management and handling. Dr AlBlooshi explained, “Prior to the Resolution, complaints against insurance companies were not in our purview. The Authority will handle complaints by three parties – patient, hospital/clinic and insurance providers, and enforce violations.”

Infant mortality rises in Gaza for first time in 50 years

The infant mortality rate in Gaza has risen for the first time in five decades, according to an UNRWA study, and UNRWA’s Health Director says the Israeli blockade of Gaza may be contributing to the trend.

Every five years, UNRWA conducts a survey of infant mortality across the region, and the 2013 results were released in August. The number of babies dying before the age of one has consistently gone down over the past several decades in Gaza, from 127 per 1,000 live births in 1960 to 20.2 in 2008. At the last count, in 2013, it had risen to 22.4 per 1,000 live births.

The rate of neonatal mortality – the number of babies that die before four weeks old – has also increased significantly in Gaza, from 12 per 1,000 live births in 2008 to 20.3 in 2013.

“Infant mortality is one of the best indicators for the health of the community,” said Dr Akihiro Seita, Director of UNRWA’s health program. “It reflects on the mother and child’s health and in the UN Millennium Development Goals it is one of the key indicators.

“The rate had declined quite smoothly over the last decades across the region, including Gaza. So when the 2013 results from Gaza were first uncovered, UNRWA was alarmed by the apparent increase. So we worked with external independent research groups to examine the data, to ensure the increase could be confirmed. That is why it took us so long to release these latest figures,” Dr Seita said.

Such an increase here is unprecedented in Dr Seita’s experience working in the Middle East. “Progress in combatting infant mortality doesn’t usually reverse. This seems to be the first time we have seen an increase like this,” Dr Seita said. “The only other examples I can think of are in some African countries which experienced HIV epidemics.”

The UN Agency will carry out another region-wide survey of Palestinian refugees in 2018. However, UNRWA will conduct one this year in Gaza alone because of these latest figures.

“It is hard to know the exact causes behind the increase in both neonatal and infant mortality rates, but I fear it is part of a wider trend. We are very concerned about the impact of the long-term [Israeli] blockade on health facilities, supplies of medicines and bringing equipment in to Gaza,” Dr Seita said.

The UNRWA report also highlights that the most recent survey was conducted before last year’s conflict in which over two thousand Palestinians were killed, the majority of whom were civilians, including more than 550 children.

Iraq health services shut down

A severe funding shortfall has led to the closure of 84% of health programmes supported by humanitarian partners, including the World Health Organization (WHO), in Iraq, leaving almost 3 million people without access to urgently needed heath care services.

More than 184 front line health services in 10 governorates have been suspended, leaving millions of refugees, internally displaced persons and host communities without access to trauma care, nutrition supplementation, primary health care, outbreak detection and management, immunization services and reproductive health care services.

“This is a country ravaged by conflict. Not only do we have innocent civilians being caught in the violence, with so many people fleeing the fighting and living in temporary housing, people are at much higher risk from communicable diseases,” said Dr Syed Jaffar Hussain, WHO’s Representative in Iraq. “Unless additional funding is received, millions more will be deprived of health services they urgently need.”

Despite repeated warnings of the imminent closure of health services, and the revision of 2015 plans to focus on meeting the most basic priority health needs for vulnerable populations, funding for health in Iraq remains scarce. Of the US$ 60.9 million required by Health Cluster, only US$ 5.1 million – or 8% has been received.

“While we are grateful to donors who have helped us decrease the health impact of this crisis on the people of Iraq, we are far from meeting even the most basic health needs,” said Dr Hussain. “We hope the international community will provide the funds needed to reach 5.6 million of Iraq’s most vulnerable populations with life-saving health services and supplies. To ensure that halted services are quickly restored, WHO is actively advocating with donors, as well as temporarily utilizing regional resources until additional funding is available.

Syrian airstrikes on hospitals kill health workers

Recent airstrikes on hospitals in Syria’s Idlib province reveal a devastating trend of increased targeting of health facilities in the Syrian war, the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) warned 14 August, denouncing the attacks and calling on parties to the conflict to respect hospital grounds and civilians.

Airstrikes hit or landed near nine hospitals in Idlib province from August 7 to 10, including three hospitals supported by MSF. Eleven people were killed in the strikes, including three hospital staff members and one patient. At least 31 people were wounded, including seven hospital staff members and six patients.

“These recent attacks are a clear violation of international humanitarian law, which prohibits military attacks on hospitals,” said Sylvain Groulx, MSF head of mission for Syria. “Airstrikes are capable of targeting specific buildings and these hospitals are known locations. They must be respected as neutral spaces where civilians can safely access their right to healthcare services.”

A dialysis centre serving an area with 30,000 people remains closed as a result of the airstrikes, and patients must now travel 70 kilometres, in an insecure environment to access treatment. Services in other hospitals were also affected, including surgery, orthopaedics and physiotherapy. Two ambulances, a generator and a laboratory were destroyed by the strikes, and another three ambulances were damaged.

Similar attacks on civilian infrastructure, including many health facilities, have taken place in recent months in many provinces in Syria. “Civilians continue to suffer the daily brunt of this war with a massive number of deaths and injuries,” Groulx said. MSF operates five medical facilities inside Syria and supports more than 100 hospitals and clinics in Syria. It is also working with Syrian refugees who have fled to Iraq, Jordan, and Lebanon.


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