Monday, December 14, 2009

Rain of reactions pour in

The Gulf Today, 14 Dec 2009

The skies are offloading buckets in the UAE. Meanwhile on the ground, experiences ranged from lovely to catastrophic for many people. Majority preferred to remain indoors and so, community networking portals were abuzz with reactions about the torrents for the monsoon.
Lauren Baronet, a South African expatriate living in Dubai, said: "Being hot and dry most of the year here, it's exciting to experience the rain in Dubai. While my friends and family are soaking up the sun back in South Africa, I am enjoying the rain in Dubai just as much."
"The only downside is that I don't feel safe on the roads in this weather with crazy drivers and poor drainage, I'm much happier in the comfort of my home with my book and a cup of tea," she added.
Precious de Leon, a Filipina tweeted, "Sharjah industrial area and some parts of Al Quoz are flooded. So, it took two hours to get from Sharjah to Dubai."
Emirati writer Samar Owais just got home after braving the industrial area. She thanked the considerate cab drivers. "I would have had to swim across the road to get home otherwise."
Roxane M, from Abu Dhabi, tweeted, "It seems like London in the snow. Streets have morphed into canals and the taxi driver says no drainage in Abu Dhabi - it's flooded."
But a Dubai-based cyber geek commented that everyone in the office is sneezing and coughing. He asked, "Where is that blasted sunshine? I need the sun to come and dry everything and kill them germs!"
Another tweeter advised, to be careful out there, as the rain turns the UAE roads even more dangerous than usual.
Sijoy Varghese, an ad film director opined, "Dubai looked beautiful in the rain last night and early this morning. I hope the rain continues, just the light drizzle. I enjoy a lot and I want to feel the rain touching my skin... Because I miss the rain I enjoyed in India."
"Even though the strong winds and heavy rain, I walked or rather ran back to my house and were drenched in no time. But I enjoyed! I'm sure everyone who saw me from their balconies thought we were crazy," he said.
According to Irene Sevilla in Abu Dhabi, the UAE's once-in-a-year rain makes the road TRAFFIC with a capital T!
"Damn, morning was really traffic due to rain. I wonder what will happen tomorrow morning. Would it be the same?" cursed another cyber social.
But Marwan Dj BLISS is optimistic, "It's not weird! The UAE residents love this weather, cloudy or rainy days. Change is good."
He jokes his car's wipers got some intelligent sensors, "It wipes only when there is a certain number of raindrops and goes faster as I drive."
Meanwhile, DJ Shadow Dubai, is just waiting for people to start asking him to make the rain disappear, like David Copperfield does.
Baha, an Egyptian expat, said, "It's finally raining in Dubai. It was just so awesome rain pouring after a long time. I am really happy and welcome this rain and expecting more rains along this week."

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Al Quoz to get drainage system


The Gulf Today, 18 Nov 2009
Dubai's Al Quoz industrial area, which houses hundreds of labour camps, will get a new drainage system to face its growing wastewater woes.
As the Al Quoz area currently has no sufficient sewage treatment system or waste disposal procedures, septic tanks in the labour camps often overflow and floods of heavy sewage water in surrounding areas are a common occurrence.
Dubai Municipality (DM) has planned the sewage and storm water project, costing Dhs86 million, with the aim of easing sewage water management procedures in the industrial areas one, two and three and four.
A senior DM official said that in realisation of issues over the sewage disposal in the areas and concern for preservation of the environment of the city, the project will provide sewage as well as storm water drainage services to 145,000 people in the region.
Talib Julfar, Director of the Drainage and Irrigation Department at the DM, said, "The system will be established alongside Sheikh Zayed Road, Al Khail Road and Umm Suqeim Road. It will cover a total area of 159 hectares out of the 1,897 hectares in the Al Quoz industrial area."
"The project will be set up within 18 months (540 days). It will have wastewater collection and rainwater pipes, the groundwater level reducing pipes and wastewater and rainwater collection chambers," he added.
"House connection pipes, manholes and domestic connection inspection rooms, rainwater connection rooms and the establishment of a sewage pumping station as well as a pumping line are included in the components of the project," pointed out Julfar.
As the area accommodates about 150,000 residents as well as hundreds of industrial units, exposure to raw sewage has been causing various kinds of threats to public health.
The industrial area generates about 300,000 cubic metres of sewage wastewater per day, which is estimated as one of the highest measures of waste production in Dubai.
Sewage treatment plant for Masafi
An advanced sewage water treatment plant is on the anvil at Masafi Village. The installation of the plant will be completed in four months time, according to its patrons.
"The project will cater to the growing needs of about 2,000 residents of the village," said Abdullah Al Ghurair, Chairman of Al Ghurair Group, which is installing the plant in co-operation with Hitachi Plant Technologies.
"The plant will serve as a local sewage treatment facility as well as a valuable source of high quality water for irrigation purposes," he added.
According to Abdullah, the residents of Masafi currently depend on sewage tankers to evacuate sewage from the village to a remote sewage treatment plant.
Essa Al Ghurair, Chairman of Al Ghurair Foods, said, "The initiative will value the natural resources of the area, as it introduces environmentally friendly technology for wastewater treatment in the area."
"The plant will help to preserve the precious ground water resources of the Masafi area, using it for drinking purposes only," she added.
Dr Sumikawa, President of Hitachi Plant Technologies, said, "The high quality water treatment system will facilitate the local treatment and conversion of sewage water into high quality water, without odour or color, so that it is made suitable for irrigation purposes."
"Unlike the conventional sewage treatment systems, the plant is equipped with membrane bio reactor technology that will further help to reduce the carbon footprint," he added.
He pointed out that the plant will be operated with a 500 CBM/Day treatment capacity. The eco-friendly process requires less energy and will maintain a high consistency in the quality of water, that can be safety used for irrigation and other industrial applications in the town of Masafi.
"A water recycling establishment, utilising the same technology for high grade industrial water, is already operational in Al Quoz," Sumikawa added.
A ground breaking ceremony for the plant was held on Monday, in the presence of Mubarak Ali Al Shamsi of RAK Municipality, Mohammad Abduallah Al Maherzi, and Saied Sultan Shahin from Masafi Ras-Al-Khaimah, Ali Abdullah from Fujairah Municipality, and Khameez Al Damhani from the Masafi Municipality.
Senior delegates from Al Ghurair and Hitachi Plant Technologies were also present.

H1N1 vaccination for Hajj pilgrims in the capital


The Gulf Today, 17 Nov 2009
Hajj pilgrims from Abu Dhabi and Al Ain can get administered with the H1N1 vaccines at 11 healthcare centres across the region. The vaccinations are free of cost for all the pilgrims planned to move towards the Holy land in Saudi Arabia.
Launched by the Abu Dhabi Health Services Company, the vaccination will be available from Nov.17 until the end of the season at the facilities of Ambulatory Healthcare Services (AHS) and Sheikh Khalifa Medical City (SKMC), said senior health officials.
Clyde Eder, Operation Director at SEHA, said, "Eight AHS centres and three SKMC family medicine centres have been designated for the H1N1 vaccination in the region. The centres in Abu Dhabi include DPSC Abu Dhabi, Bain Al Jesraen, Khalifa (A) and Al Samha healthcare centres, and Al Mushrif, Al Baten and Al Khaleej family medicine centres."
"While, the swine flu vaccination will be available for Al Ain residents at DPSC Al Ain, Al Muwaiji, Al Mezyed and Al Maqam healthcare centres," he added.
Clyde urged all the pilgrims to visit the facilities to take both the compulsory vaccinations, which are offered free of cost.
According to him, the initiative is aimed at making procedures convenient for the Hajj pilgrims and also to ensure their good health right from starting the journey from the UAE to coming back.
"It will increase the reach of the H1N1 vaccination process for both local and expatriate pilgrims from the region," he added.
Dr Tej Maini, CEO of SKMC, pointed out, "Two vaccinations, one for H1N1 and another for Meningitis, are compulsory for the Hajj pilgrims. All the Hajj pilgrims are required to take these compulsorily at one time. It is preferable to take them both two weeks prior to travelling for Hajj so that they provide maximum strength and immunity for the body."
According to Dr Abdel Haddi Al Ahbabi, COO of AHS-SEHA, The H1N1 vaccinations for our Hajj pilgrims has already started on Monday, and it will continue until the conclusion of the Hajj period for this year. The vaccinations will be offered during the working hours of the respective authorised centres for H1N1 vaccine.
"As a note of precaution to all, if any flu-like symptoms appear, they should visit the healthcare facility consultant in the UAE or the Hajj medical representative in the Holy land. The pilgrims should provide the documents evidencing their upcoming visit for Hajj and a certificate will be issued to them for all the vaccinations taken for this season's Hajj," he explained.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

DHA centres provide H1N1 vaccination


The Gulf Today, 16 Nov 2009

Hajj pilgrims from the emirate of Dubai can avail of H1N1 vaccinations at Dubai Health Authority's (DHA) selected health centres, according to DHA officials.
Dr Ahmed Ibrahim Bin Kalban, CEO of Primary Health Sector at the DHA, said, "Primary health clinics located in Al Mamzar, Al Tawar, Mankhool, Nadd Al Sheba, Hatta and Al Safa are among the selected DHA health centres."
He encouraged pilgrims to visit the centres and get administered with the H1N1 vaccination as it's compulsory for all the UAE pilgrims heading towards the holy site in Saudi Arabia. The vaccines will be provided free of cost.
"In order to assist the Hajj pilgrims, all the designated health centres will be operational from Sunday to Thursday from 7am to 10pm and on Saturday between 8am and 1pm," said Dr Kalban.
"The pilgrims, before leaving the UAE, have to show a health certificate to prove that they have received H1N1 vaccination. The yellow health card is significant as it helps save the lives of pilgrims who arrive at the holy site, though KSA has not made it mandatory for pilgrims to be vaccinated against H1N1," he added.
As part of its standard preventive measures required for the Haj pilgrimage, the Ministry of Health (MoH) had earlier started administering vaccines for seasonal flu and meningitis free of cost to the pilgrims.
Dr Emad Abdul Karim, Consultant of Community Medicine and Vaccinology at the MOH said the Haj pilgrims have to receive three vaccines, including the compulsory vaccination for H1N1 and Meningitis (Meningococcal) and the optional one for seasonal flu.
"About 6,228 pilgrims from the UAE are expected to leave the country for performing Hajj this year. Out of the total registered pilgrims, 1,000 are nationals," said the MoH officials.

Medical preparedness plan for Hajj pilgrims


The Gulf Today, 17 Nov 2009
A comprehensive medical preparedness plan has been developed by Dubai Health Authority (DHA) to ensure the safety and comfort of Hajj pilgrims who will use the Dubai International Airport.
This year, over 6000 Hajj pilgrims are expected from Dubai to head towards the Holy site in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
In order to oversee the functioning of the Dubai Airport Medical Centre and to ensure whether the preparedness plans for Hajj pilgrims are in place, a high delegation of health officials from Rashid Hospital, including CEO Dr Shawqi Khoori and Medical Director Dr Younis Kazim have inspected the medical centre recently.
More than seventy doctors and nurses equipped with the latest medical equipment will be present in buildings 1 and 3 of the Dubai International Airport, said Dr Amer Al Zarooni, Director of Airport Medical Centre.
"The DHA has developed the preparedness plan to ensure they have a rapid response to emergency medical situations such as cardiac arrest," he added.
"The DHA has set up two thermal scanners at two locations in the airport to detect travellers with H1N1 symptoms," said Al Zarooni.
According to him, the DHA will provide all the necessary vaccinations such as meningitis vaccine, H1N1 vaccine for the pilgrims.
"The pilgrims will also be provided with Vitamin-C drinks, in addition to several pamphlets giving them information on ways to protect their health," he noted.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

New facility caters to cardiac case glut


The Gulf Today, 16 Nov 2009

Rashid Hospital in Dubai opened a completely dedicated catheterisation suite at its premises on Sunday, as the influx of cardiac cases has shown higher rates in recent times.
The hospital has been witnessing a high volume of cardiac cases during the last few years. Last year the admissions to the cardiology department was 1,600 patients; this figure amounts to 11 per cent of the total admissions in Rashid Hospital, according to health officials.
Qadhi Saeed Al Murooshid, Director General of the Dubai Health Authority (DHA), said, "In 2008, the department conducted between 850 and 900 cardiac procedures."
"So, the health authorities think that the cath suite will facilitate to cater to the growing number of cardiac cases the hospital receives."
"The cath laboratory is equipped with state-of-the-art technologies and facilities to meet with the cardiac cases of the emirate's present and future population," he added.

Dedicated suite
Dr Shawqi Khoory, CEO of Rashid Hospital, said, "Previously, the cath laboratory at the hospital was shared with the radiology department. But in recent times with the influx of cardiac cases, we decided to set up a completely dedicated cath suite."
"The cath suite is equipped with a procedure room, eight beds for patients, a control room for all the equipments as well as monitors, seminar room and an on-call room for doctors," he explained.
According to Dr Fahad Omar Baslaib, Head of Cardiology Department at the Rashid Hospital, the cath suite has the latest technology required for coronary angiography.
The procedures that will be conducted in the cath suite include primary angioplasty, coronary angioplasty with stent implantation, balloon valvuloplasty and permanent peacemaker implantation," he said.
"It is also equipped with other devices such as the intravascular ultrasound machine which does an ultrasound inside the artery and also checks the pressure of the artery, a unique facility in the region," he added.
He noted that patients can stay back in the same cath suite for 24 hours. They also have access to round-the-clock on-call doctor service.
The unit is the third busiest department after the trauma centre and the general surgery department.

Monday, November 23, 2009

UAE spends Dhs374m on diabetes treatments per year


The Gulf Today, 15 Nov 2009
The UAE is spending Dhs374 million per year to meet expenses of diabetes treatments of various types to the residents of the country, reveals the Ministry of Health (MoH).
Dr Hanif Hassan, the UAE Minister of Health, said the national statistics indicate that incidence of diabetes reached 19.6 per cent in 2005.
"The percentage is expected to further rise to above 28 per cent by the year 2025, if effective preventive measures have not been taken to curb the impact of the epidemic in the society," he added.
According to him, every third patient admitted in the hospitals of the country is suffering from diabetes and its related complications ranging from cardiovascular disorders, kidney failure, blindness and amputations.
As part of integrated anti-diabetes action plans, the MoH has launched a year-long national diabetes awareness campaign, rolling out to coincide with the World Diabetes Day on Nov.14.
Dr Mahmoud Fikri, Chief Executive Officer of Health Policy at the MoH and Chairman of the National Committee for Combating Diabetes, said the outreach programme is aimed at educating school children, parents as well as care-givers and health professionals.
"The comprehensive outreach programme, developed by the National Committee to Combat Diabetes, will ensure participation of various healthcare establishments, corporate entities, sports and leisure organisations," he added.
According to him, the MoH has dedicated the year 2009-2010 to wide variety of activities to fight the disease.
Dr Fikri noted the national campaign becomes significant, as the country is going through considerable economic transformation. So, combined efforts are essential to combat the disease.
"The programme will provide with guidelines to healthcare institutions, urging them to put effective measures in treating the disease, and increase levels of knowledge and skills of healthcare professionals," he pointed out.
Launching the national campaign, Dr Hanif Hassan has announced a number of health projects, planned by the National Committee to be implemented during the next few days to address the serious situation.
"The UAE will host the World Conference on Diabetes annually for five consecutive years, as part of the campaign. The first conference will be held in March 2010," said the minister.
According to Dr Fikri, a programme will be conducted on Nov.24 for giving lessons to school students, teachers, parents and healthcare providers. In addition, training sessions have started by international educationists for 60 nurses.
Dr Hassan said, "According to the national statistics, the UAE is ranked as the world's second largest diabetes prevalent country after Nauru.
"Diabetes has emerged as a significant reason of morbidity and mortality in the Arab world, and the disease results in putting heavy burdens on the individual, family and society in a whole," he added.

Dubai gets new sewage treatment system


The Gulf Today, 13 Nov 2009

Dubai is set to launch yet another environmental preservation initiative aimed at safe and eco-friendly disposal of the sewage and garbage generated in the city.
The emirate's latest sewage treatment plant will be operational within 915 days in Nad Al Sheba-4 area, located specifically along the Emirates Road and Al Ain Road and the regions of the Nad Al Sheba-2 and 3, according to Dubai Municipality (DM).
Hussain Nasser Lootah, Director General of the DM, said "The Dhs406 million project, spanning over an area of about 594 hectares, will provide sewage services for a population of 347,053 people, as well as storm water drainage service for the region."
"All residential, commercial, recreational and service areas located in Nad Al Sheba-4 will be benefited from the new extension of the sewage and storm water drainage network," he added.
"The plant can also accommodate the disposal of drainage and storm water from Dubai Academic City and Dubai Silicon Oasis on the main lines of the project, in addition to receiving the future sewage and rain water of Nad Al Sheba-3 on the main lines," pointed out Lootah.
"Among the components of the project, the wastewater collection pipes come 55,154 metres long, while the rainwater pipes are 63,202 metres long and the length of the tubes for reducing the groundwater level is 11,520 metres," he explained.
According to him, there are 737 rooms for wastewater collection, 786 rooms for rainwater collection, 9,900 metres long pipes for house connections, 414 manholes for home inspections and 3,060-metre-long pipes for rainwater connections.
Lootah said that a sewage pumping station with a capacity of 900 litres per second already exists at the location, while a new sewage pumping system will be set up with the same capacity.
"This is in addition to the establishment of 3,000-metre-long pump of 700mm, the development of the existing rainwater pumping station and the establishment of a new storm water pumping station with a capacity of 9,000 litre per second," he added.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Dubai's waste disposal sees 20% annual jump


The Gulf Today, 27 May 2009

Dubai's immense economic growth followed by its acceleration of urban development in recent years has brought about significant waste management challenges to the booming city, which is witnessing a rapid increase in waste disposal with a 20 per cent addition every year, according to the chief of Dubai Municipality (DM).
Hussain Nasser Lootah, DM's Director General, said the quantity of waste generated in the emirate and arrived daily at the municipal garbage dump for the purpose of disposal was estimated at above 10,000 tons.
"In the year 2000, the daily disposal of Dubai's waste was about 3000 tons. The construction waste generated in the emirate has also increased to an approximate rate of 30 per cent. The amount of total waste production is expected to triple by 2014," revealed Lootah on the sidelines of the Middle East Waste Summit 2009, opened on Tuesday at the Dubai Airport Expo.

Regions' Challenge
"Currently, an approximate 120 million tons of waste is produced in the GCC, putting the region in the top ten worldwide ranking of the biggest waste producers per capita. The UAE and Saudi Arabia produce the most waste. It is estimated that 55 percent of this total waste comes from construction and demolition, 20 percent from municipal waste, 18 percent from industrial waste, and 7 percent from hazardous waste," he added.
According to him, the rapid development in the Gulf, population growth, industrial diversification and construction activities combined have made the region facing severe challenges in the waste management.

DM's Initiatives
Lootah pointed out: "The quantity of garbage generated from household is alarmingly increasing in the emirate, in addition to industrial and factory wastes. We have got several other sources of waste. To respond to the increasing quantities of generated waste as well as the need for innovative waste management solutions, DM has implemented several initiatives for the application of environmentally sustainable practices in waste management, such as project to recycle construction waste, household waste recycling project, a draft consumer recycled tires, and the plan to recycle consumed oil."
"A highly sophisticated treatment plant for medical waste, which is under construction in Jebel Ali with an estimated cost of Dhs24 million, will be operational by the next month. Toxic waste generated from factories of the emirate will also be treated in a specially designed toxic waste plant built in the industrial area. A separate treatment plant for domestic oil waste was opened two months ago," he said.

Significant Projects
"Within a general framework for the strategy to reduce waste, DM has working on three significant waste management projects, which includes the automated system for the collection of compressed waste, and waste from the transfer of energy in the emirate," Lootah added.
According to him, the proposal of DM to turn waste into energy is aimed at reducing the emission levels of methane gas from landfills health, reducing dependence on landfills and the health of the traditional method of disposal of household waste.
Lootah said: "Dubai city has the process of sustainable management of waste issues. DM's made efforts to develop sustainable solutions to the challenges resulting from growth in the quantities of waste generated in the emirate was through a strategic partnership with the private sector."

Community Patrolling
"The municipality has initiated a community patrolling programme, with the co-operation of responsible residents from the local community to control illegal abandoning of waste and garbage in the city," he added.
"The programme has become highly effective as its 500 enlisted members inspect dumping of construction and household waste or littering of useless things and spitting pan masala in public places, and report to the concerned authorities," Lootah pointed out.
"DM also has signed a contract with an international consultant recently to develop a national waste minimisation strategy for the emirate. We expect that the strategies for waste minimisation along with an action plan will be submitted by the consultant before the end of 2009 for our review," he added.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

H1N1 vaccination drive takes off in Sharjah

14 government centres designated across Northern region

The Gulf Today, 11 Nov 2009

The UAE Ministry of Health (MoH) launched its swine flu vaccination drive in Sharjah and Northern Emirates on Tuesday.
The inoculation against the virus will be available for public from Wednesday onwards at about 14 designated centres, including preventive health centres in Dubai, Sharjah and other Northern Emirates, according to a senior MoH official.
Speaking on the sidelines of the first workshop for the National Influenza A (H1N1) Immunisation Campaign, Dr Mahmoud Fikri, Executive Director of Health Policies at the MoH and Chairman of the Technical Committee for Combating H1N1, told The Gulf Today that the private sector has not yet been authorised to perform the H1N1 vaccination.
“The vaccination can only be received from the public health centres on which the private sector operators also have to depend on. Administering the H1N1 vaccine is mandatory for all pilgrims before heading towards Saudi Arabia, while it will be optional for other residents,” he said.
“A yellow, passport-sized International Certificate of Vaccination will be provided to all the pilgrims after they get administered with the Pandemrix H1N1 vaccine produced by GlaxoSmithKline,” he added.
“The preventive medical centres of Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Kalba, Khor Fakkan, Fujairah and Umm Al Quwain are among the 14 designated centres for receiving H1N1 vaccination,” explained Dr Emad Abdul Karim, Consultant of Community Medicine and Vaccinology at the MOH.
He said, “The health centre in Dhaid, Mushreif Centre in Ajman, Khatfa Centre in Fujairah, Thaj Mualla Centre in Umm Al Quwain and three centres- Nakheel Centre, RAK Centre and Minae Centre- in Ras Al Khaimah are the rest of the centres where the public will be administered the H1N1 vaccine in the Northern region.”
“In Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and Al Gharbia, pilgrims can visit any disease prevention and screening centres for immunization,” he added.
According to Dr Karim, the Haj pilgrims have to receive three vaccines, including the compulsory vaccination for H1N1 and Meningitis (Meningococcal) and optional one for seasonal flu.
He pointed out that the Haj pilgrims must produce certificates proving that they had received the H1N1 vaccination before leaving the UAE. The yellow health card is significant as it helps save the lives of pilgrims who arrive in the Holy site, as KSA has not made it mandatory for pilgrims to be vaccinated against H1N1.
“As part of its standard preventive measures required for the Haj pilgrimage, the MoH had earlier started administering vaccines for seasonal flu and meningitis free-of-cost to the pilgrims,” he noted.
According to Dr Fikri, the UAE has ordered for one million H1N1 vaccines and it is one among the first 20 countries in the world to receive the vaccine.
“The vaccination is needed for three billion people in the world. So far, 50 million doses of the vaccine were distributed worldwide, even though the quantity is not sufficient to meet the needs of even half the world population,” he noted.
The ministry is conducting practical sessions for health professionals in the government sector on the administering of the vaccine to various categories in the country.
The MoH had launched on Monday the national H1N1 awareness campaign for Haj pilgrims in Abu Dhabi.
“About 6,228 pilgrims from the UAE are expected to leave the country for performing Haj this year. Out of the total registered pilgrims, 1,000 are nationals,” said the MoH officials.

Monday, November 9, 2009

One in 12 of UAE people carry Thalassemia gene

The Gulf Today, 9 Nov 2009-11-09

One in 12 people in the UAE carry the gene for thalassemia, a blood disorder that reduces the number of normal blood cells in the body, according to figures collated by the DHA.
The figures have been revealed during the launch of a completely dedicated Thalassemia website on Sunday at the Thalassemia Centre of the Dubai Health Authority (DHA).
"If two carriers have children, the likelihood of each child developing the disease is 25 per cent. The lack of red blood cells prevents the normal flow of oxygen around the body, which presents with similar symptoms to anemia," said to the DHA officials.
Qadhi Saeed Al Murooshid, Director General of the DHA said: "Both public and healthcare professionals can access the information on the Thalassemia disease as well as take part in forum discussions provided at web portal or"
Educate on disease
"The web portal has been designed with separate areas for the public and healthcare professionals, both in Arabic and English languages will help boost education of the disease, and improve communication between itself and the centre's users," he added.
According to him, the web portal has been developed aimed at reaching out to the public and provide them with up-to-date information on facts, diagnosis and treatment options. The website will add to the centre's existing patient communication system that uses SMS to alert its patients to treatment changes, appointments, and the center's activities.
Al Murooshid noted, "The DHA also has put into action measures such as pre-marital testing, in order to reduce the prevalence of Thalassemia in the UAE."
Interactive forum
"The website the public and healthcare professional will also have a forum provided with an opportunity to interact with each other, allowing them to leave comments and suggestions for the centre's staff," he explained.
Dr Khawla Belhoul, Director of the Thalassemia Centre, pointed out: "What we want to do is match the ideal international chronic care module released by WHO, and a website containing accurate up-to-date information on the disease for patients, the public and healthcare professionals, is part of that."
"We want to encourage people to use the site to gather information, ask questions, leave comments, and take part in forums where they can discuss issues with other sufferers," she added.
Localised resource
According to Dr Belhoul, the healthcare professionals will benefit from having a localised resource containing international standard information. They can also contact the DHA authorities by email for expert advice.
His Highness Sheikh Majid bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of Dubai Culture and Arts Authority, launched the portal.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

East coast's marine life out of the red

The Gulf Today, 8 Nov 2009

A gradual return of marine life is visible on the east coast of the UAE, as the coral reefs have begun recovering from the negative impacts of the red tide phenomenon that has been stretching for months in the waters of the eastern region.
The red tide is a reddish discolouration of coastal surface waters due to concentrations of toxin-producing algae, which are fatal to many forms of marine life. In such a situation, fishing grounds are closed to prevent the harvest of any contaminated shellfish.
MoEW measures
The UAE Ministry of Environment and Water (MoEW) had been making efforts to control the phenomenon that spread widely across the coast, especially in Dibba, Fujairah, Kalba and Khor Fukhan areas.
The movement of the red tide phenomenon has reduced significantly, according to recent studies, which reveal the phenomenon is not causing desertification of the marine environment now, says the MoEW sources.
Dr Maryam Hassan Al Shenasi, Executive Director for Technical Affairs at MoEW, said that the spread of the red tide phenomenon was closely monitored by the ministry. "It is a natural phenomenon and the growth and reproduction of coral reefs in red tide areas have been affected badly in the eastern coastal zone for more than five months," she revealed.
Ill-effects abate
She added, "Studies conducted in the affected areas by the Centre for Marine Environmental Research (CMER) at the MoEW, indicate that the aquatic life is on the path of recovery from adversities, so coral species have now started branching out."
"Meanwhile, the study has not yet disclosed the red tide's severe effects on the coral species that have the ability to withstand strong currents, hurricanes, or low levels of dissolved oxygen in the water," she added.
According to Al Shenasi, the negative impacts during the period of simultaneous occurrence of the phenomenon had resulted in lowering the ability of coral reef to grow and shelter a variety of aquatic creatures in the marine eco-system.
She referred to other red tide affected coastal areas in the world, a phenomenon, which had started to appear frequently with high density in different parts of the world during the last two years.
"The Gulf of Mexico was subjected to the phenomenon for a period exceeding 12 months, but now the coast is returning to its normal marine environment," she noted.
Fishing activity
"The UAE's eastern coastal zone is currently booming with a wide variety of fish reserves provided of course, the season of migration of some fish species. As fishing activities play a key role in maintaining overall living aquatic resources, fishermen are allowed to catch large-sized items, but commercial fishing of small fishes is controlled in order to maintain sufficient fish stocks and develop a sustainable marine environment," explained Al Shenasi.
CMER findings
Dr Ibrahim Al Jamali, director of the CMER, said, "In order to facilitate control of the phenomenon, the CMER had collected samples from the red tide for conducting further analysis and check out the reasons."
"The red tide has become prevalent in the upper layers of water from one to five metres depth, and the number of the algae cells, between 3,000 and 200,000 per litre. The samples have been tested for vesicles accounting for 20 to 30 per cent of each litre of affected water," he added.
According to him, the major reasons for the red tide phenomenon are anarchic climatic change, global warming, the tsunami effect and the increased human activities in the ocean.
"The influence of these factors, directly or indirectly, causes pollution of the marine environment leading to inappropriate aquatic conditions and depletion of nutrients that are needed for the growth of the marine species," he pointed out.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Fake Viagra tablets seized in capital

The Gulf Today, 3 Nov 2009

The UAE Ministry of Health (MoH) has seized a huge quantity of counterfeit Viagra tablets that were about to be exported through the borders of the UAE.
The attempt to smuggle 1.75 million pills of the fake medicine, used to treat sexual impotence in men, was thwarted by the MoH in a joint operation along with Abu Dhabi Police and Customs officials.
Dr Amin Bin Hussain Al Amiri, Executive Director of Medical Practices and Licensing at the MoH, said that the cargo of about 86 cartons of counterfeit Viagra pills were intended to be exported through the port of Ghwaifat.
“The Control and Registration Department of the MoH had discovered that the cargo of pharmaceutical formula contained the bulk quantity of fake Viagra that weren’t registered in the records of medicinal types at the health ministry,” he added.
According to him, a clothes and textiles company attempted to export the drugs using documents for the shipment of their products. The company was actually permitted to export clothing and blankets, but not medicinal products.
Al Amiri pointed out that the Vigra tablets were not allowed for use in the UAE.
“Upon further inspections, the products were found to be manufactured in China and India,” he noted.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

New set of food regulations in the pipeline

The Gulf Today, 3 Nov 2009

DUBAI Municipality (DM) is contemplating strict regulations on risk-based analysis of food items starting from categories including water, dairy and meat production units and training of employees in each sector.
Bashir Hassan Yousif, Acting Head of Food Studies and Planning Section at the DM, said, "As per the planned legislation, all food business operators must show that they have adopted good hygienic practices on premises suitable for the purpose and it should not be just meeting the minimum requirements of the law."
"Provisions of the science-based food safety legislation will focus on prevention from various problems such as food poisoning rather than curing in the event of hazards. The DM initiative will move towards enforcing self regulation, as a combination of government and business regulatory efforts," he added.
Yousif was speaking to the media after an educational workshop on food regulations on the sidelines of the Sweets Middle East 2009 Exhibitions at Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre.
"In the first phase, the regulations will be imposed on categories including water, dairy and meat production units. Training the workers in the concerned units as well as service sector employees will also be mandatory as per the new regulations," he said.
"A set of new regulations became necessary as the present guidelines are not specific enough and are insufficient for meeting food safety standards in all aspects," he added.
The DM official noted that a categorised guideline for different areas of food manufacturing and operations will be drafted as a transparent and integrated approach for risk-based food control depending on reliable sampling and analytical methods.
"The regulations have been planned to outline considering risk-based analysis conducted according to the current scientific factors. The responsibilities will be decentralised for the manufacturers and food suppliers," he said.
According to Yousif, the set food safety measures are planned in the wake of the growing significance of the risk-based analysis, cost benefit or impact analysis and risk communication. All food establishments should adhere to the control systems," he stressed.
He said, "Meanwhile, in traditional food regulatory and control systems, the set of standards are outlined by the government. So the responsibilities are presumed to be the regulator's (government) task. But the new regulations will emphasise the responsibility of food manufacturers."

Monday, November 2, 2009

Unified diabetes protocol for Dubai

The Gulf Today, 2 Nov 2009

Bringing 100 years of experience in diabetic care to Dubai, the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) will implement a unified diabetes concept and protocol system for the emirate, in cooperation with one of the world's frontline diabetic treatment centres.
The Joslin Diabetes Centre in Boston (JDC) will expand its diabetic management services to Dubai through all the DHA primary healthcare clinics and hospitals to manage and treat diabetes in the emirate.
Reaching out
As per the initiative, diabetes treatment centres across Dubai will cover different areas and reach out to the community, according to a senior DHA official.
"A roadmap will be established in the emirate to tackle this condition, as the UAE has become the world's second largest diabetic prevalent country. The Boston centre will establish a stronger referral system, promote advanced diabetes education and ensure protocols that are followed across the board to treat diabetes," said a DHA spokesperson.
Talks held
A delegation from the DHA, headed by its director general Qadhi Saeed Al Murooshid, met with Dr Kenneth Quickel, President and CEO of the JDC in Boston, to discuss ways to widen the scope of work that the two organisations have jointly undertaken.
Al Murooshid said, "As the DHA is in the process of identifying methods to establish a strong unified system across primary healthcare centres to treat and manage diabetes, the initiative is vital to increase efficiency and detect diabetes in its early stages, before it causes several health complications."
Defining roadmap
According to him, the emirate's primary healthcare centres play a crucial role in achieving this level of competency. So now, the DHA is in the process of defining a roadmap to ensure that we establish common practices of treating diabetes across all DHA hospitals and clinics.
"This will ensure that standardised protocols are followed. We are also looking at building stronger referral systems, establishing a better diabetes database and promoting advanced education in diabetes care and management," he added.
Al Murooshid pointed out, "Training our primary healthcare doctors in diabetes management is a crucial step for us and the DHA strongly emphasises more training initiatives. We also understand the need to reach out to our community and are working to set up clinics across different areas of Dubai that provide diabetes treatment."
"The JDC in Dubai will feature state-of-the-art treatment facilities for patients with diabetes and focuses on prevention, education, lifestyle management and podiatry, as well as early detection of complications for patients aged 18 and older," he explained.
Over 1000 benefit
"Presently, the affiliation with the Harvard affiliated Joslin Diabetes Centre has ensured that over the last five months, since the JDC has opened its doors in Dubai, over 1000 diabetes and pre-diabetics have received top-of-the-line multidisciplinary treatment to tackle their condition," he added.
According to the DHA chief, the JDC centre in Dubai has four US-board certified endocrinologists, seven diabetes educators, a podiatrist, a physiotherapist and a mental health counsellor.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Isolation rooms at labour camps mooted

National policy on H1N1 lists new measures for workers

The Gulf Today, 30 Oct 2009

The national policy for prevention of H1N1 at the UAE's labour accommodations and workplaces has been unveiled on Thursday.
The policy aims at curbing the spread of the contagious disease and educating workers about its dangers.
As outlined in the comprehensive swine flu prevention strategy, companies should set up two separate isolation rooms at their labourer accommodations in the event of reported cases of inmates with swine flu symptoms, says a senior health ministry official.
Dr Mahmoud Fikri, Executive Director of the Health Policies Affairs at the Ministry of Health (MoH) and Chairman of the National Committee to Combat Swine Flu, said: "One of the isolation rooms should be dedicated for H1N1 confirmed cases, whereas the other room should be provided for suspected cases."
The newly-appointed chairman of the swine flu combating committee was speaking to The Gulf Today on the sidelines of a joint workshop conducted by the ministries of health and labour for representatives and PROs of companies at Sharjah Culture Palace.
Dr Fikri added that company PROs are responsible for educating labourers about the prevention measures of the swine flu and giving them lessons on hygienic living ways as well as things to do in the event of H1N1 infection.
Dr Gamil M Tourkey, Technical Director of Preventive Medicine Department at the MoH, said that a team from the health ministry on medical zone level will train communication officers of the Ministry of Labour (MoL) and company PROs in each emirate.
Training PROs
"The selected MoL official and company representatives will be trained on the MoH guidelines and regulations to be followed in the events of H1N1 infection cases. The measures to prevent the spread of the disease in labour camps, as well as treatment methods will be explained to them," he added.
According to him, the MoH has also printed thousands of swine flu educational materials such as brochures and posters in different languages for distribution at labour camps and work sites.
Dr Tourkey pointed out, "The MoH will receive reports on the flu cases from labour accommodations through the company PROs and the MoL officials. Director of the preventive medical department in each emirate has to report to the MoL officers about the infected cases reported by the company representatives, as well as preparing the record to send to the MoH headquarters."
"A technical team based on the preventive medical department in each emirate should visit the worker dwelling places upon receiving tip-off on the suspected cases. They will ensure that the patients are provided with isolation rooms and will take the infected to the nearest hospital if necessary," he explained.
MoL role
Maher Alobad, Executive Director for Inspections at the Ministry of Labour, said, "Special MoL inspectors will conduct visits to labour accommodations to ensure the companies adhere to the H1N1 prevention regulations, and keep a healthy and hygienic living environment to workers."
"The MoL officers in each emirate have to record and inform the headquarters about the suspected cases reported by the PROs and preventive medical department heads. There are 20 inspection teams assigned across the UAE," he added.
Quarantine areas
According to Dr Ahmed Nabil M. Abou-Taleb, Head of Occupational Health Department at the MoH in Dubai, the isolation rooms for swine flu patients at worker accommodations should be set up separately from the common living area of workers in order to reduce the spread of the virus.
He said: "The rooms should have ample fresh air and should be provided with drugs for reducing fever temperature, digital thermo metre with disposable cover, protection masks, tissue papers, liquid hand-washing soaps and other anti-septic solutions. Also, separate bathrooms should be allocated to suspected and confirmed cases, provided with all hygienic measures."
"It's significant that the companies should arrange special vehicles, to transport the H1N1 infected patients to hospitals, which cannot be used for other purposes," he added.
According to Dr Nabil, the company should have a swine flu action team consisting of a nurse, a doctor and a supervisor of workers. The number of team members should be proportionate to the number of company's labourers.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

H1N1 drive ends in 160 schools

The Gulf Today, 29 Oct 2009

The Dubai Health Authority (DHA) has completed conducting H1N1 educational training programmes across all private schools in Dubai.
Commenced on Sept.1 in the beginning of this academic year, the DHA's section of community health programme conducted the training programme on prevention of the spread of the swine flu, across approximately 160 private schools in the emirate, according to a senior DHA official.
'Risk reduced'
Dr Fatima Al Attar, Head of Community Services Programme Section of the Primary Healthcare Sector at the DHA said, "By educating school nurses, doctors and administration staff about health guidelines, we could ensure that the risk of any infection is drastically reduced.
"We have asked schools to follow national protocols to reduce the risk of H1N1 in schools. The safety of children in schools is vital. It's significant to undertake swine flu preventive steps as well as provide the school administration an opportunity to raise their concerns and queries which we have addressed through this extensive training initiative," she added.
She said that the programme was headed by Dr Hamid Y Hussain, Supervisor of the School Health Community Programme and Primary Health Care Sector at DHA.
The programme was headed by Dr Hamid Y Hussain, Supervisor of the School Health Community Programme, and Primary Health Care Sector at DHA. Over 400 doctors, nurses and administration staff from various Dubai schools attended the seminar held at the Rashid Library Auditorium.
Health seminar
Dr Attar noted, "The DHA also conducted its annual seminar on school health, focusing on ways by which the school authorities can ensure reducing the risk of any infection in their premises."
The seminar had speakers from the Dubai Health Authority, the Juvenile Diabetes Education Centre (JDEC), Johnson and Johnson as well as other healthcare companies.
According to Dr Hussain, the seminar discussed the requirements that each school must follow. It also addressed healthcare challenges that schools face.
"The idea of this interaction is to help schools achieve high standards of care when their pupils are in the school environment. Schools also bear a certain amount of responsibility to educate their pupils about the precautions they should take to avoid the risk of any infection," he said.
"We have strongly emphasised on the role that schools play to protect the health of their students," he added.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Come 2013, jute bags will see plastic ones out

The Gulf Today, 28 Oct 2009

Eco-friendly bags named 'earthbags' get a big boost from the UAE Ministry of Environment and Water (MOEW) with its recent announcement banning plastic bags completely by 2013.
As the MOEW had launched last week a comprehensive campaign titled "The UAE free of plastic bags", the jute-made products will slowly gain entry into the local market, claims the manufacturers of the bags.
3-year drive
The MOEW campaign will last for three years in order to reduce the negative impacts of the waste from plastic bags on human health as well as the environment.
According to Adel Maniar, Managing Director of Mak Creations, which distributes "Earthbags" in the Middle East and North Africa, the government's latest declaration protecting the environment has given them the enthusiasm to educate the public about the use of jute bags.
He said, "We aim at encouraging general public to use the earth-friendly bags that will help protect environment. The earth-bags are made from jute that will become popular among UAE companies led by Emirates Airlines which uses it for its first class amenities' bags."
Eco-friendly jute
"Being one of the strongest natural plant fibres, jute is durable and re-usable. It is a 100 per cent natural material that consumes carbon dioxide and releases oxygen into the atmosphere. Fabrics made of jute fibres are therefore carbon dioxide neutral and are naturally decomposable," he added.
The eco-friendly bag will be showcased at the Gift and Premium Show opening on Tuesday at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre, Hall 3.
The advantage
According to Maniar, jute bags are an ideal form of marketing tool due to their customisable, colour variability and primarily environment nurturing characteristics.
"There is a far greater advantage for users of jute bags than just helping the environment. It is a thriving marketing method that is being used by many small to large corporations in the US and Europe," he explained.
He said that their factory in Kolkata, India has a manufacturing capacity of 1.8 million jute bags per year.
Three stages
The anti-plastic campaign of the environment ministry includes three main stages, in which the first phase will long for above six months with community awareness sessions and education programmes.
While the second stage will focus on bringing out alternatives to plastic bags such as biodegradable products and other models in collaboration with private sector. And the third phase will last for more than a year to publicise the laws and will promote the importance of reducing the use of plastic bags in shopping malls and supermarkets.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Dhs.500 fine for tampering with public waste containers

The Gulf Today, 27 Oct 2009

People who misplace, tamper with or scatter the contents of waste containers set up in public places will face a fine of Dhs 500, says a senior civic body official.
Hassan Makki, Director of the Waste Management Department at DM said that any person tampering with waste containers or scattering their contents will be violating the Local Order No. 11 of 2003, which states that it is prohibited for any person to tamper with waste containers or dig up their contents.
"If caught, the department will fine the violators and confiscate their tools. The companies they work for will also be contacted, so as not to allow them to carry out such practices. Coordination will be sought from the concerned authorities to take necessary actions towards people who have no documents," he said.
The civic body called upon the public and the establishments to cooperate with the civic body, to address the phenomenon of tampering with waste containers and scattering of their contents to keep the city clean and beautiful.
According to Makki, the phenomenon is considered to be bad culture that distorts the appearance of the city and the beauty of the streets.
He said, "The civic body has conducted several warning programmes to tackle the issue. The DM has now prepared a number of posters and notifications with warning messages to include various categories. Such messages will be placed on Municipality waste containers in order to raise awareness to stop the practice of tampering with the containers and scattering their contents."
"Some individuals from private establishments or wandering workers dig up and scatter the contents of the Municipality waste containers. It is uncivilised behaviour that leads to a distortion of the general appearance of the city. It also poses a risk to the offenders themselves as well as leaves the area surrounding the containers in poor hygienic conditions," he added.
Makki noted that that the contents of these containers are the property of the Municipality as long as they are within the containers. The contents of the containers are considered to be protected as they are recyclable materials.
"It is one of the targets of the Municipality to activate the role of strategic partners in waste recycling projects in the emirate by feeding waste separation plants of recyclable materials," he explained. "The private companies involved in waste recycling and waste treatment activities bear responsibility to their employees who commit such acts," he said.
The public is also requested to help catch offenders by reporting such persons by contacting the area offices of the department or the emergency unit of the Municipality.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

22,000 gear up for Dubai cleanup

The Gulf Today, 22 Oct 2009

The UAE's largest voluntary cleanup drive titled "Clean-up the World" will witness this year the participation of nearly 22,000 volunteers including school and university students, NGOs and community groups joining hands in cleaning up designated sites across Dubai.
Observed under the banner "Communities Uniting to Clean up and Conserve the Environment," the 4-day environment campaign will kick off on Oct.27 and run until Oct.30. It will line up a host of activities and awareness initiatives aimed at reducing waste and encouraging the public to reuse or recycle, according to Dubai Municipality (DM).
"The main areas for clean up activities will be Nadd Al Shiba, desert area in Wadi Al Amradi, bachelor accommodation areas in Al Quoz, Nadd Al Hamr, Al Khawaneej, Al Aweer area behind Defence Camp, Al Qusais Labour Camp and Ras Al Khor Natural Sanctuary," said Hassan Makki, Director of Waste Management Department at DM.
"Other areas include Jaddaf Fishermen's Village, Jumeirah-1 Fishermen's Village, Heritage Village area, Jumeirah and Umm Suqeim open beaches, Hatta Tourist areas, Industrial areas, Jebel Ali Port Free Zone area, Diving Beach and Creek, and labour camps, he added.
According to him, the campaign is aimed at improving public cleanliness in the emirate in cooperation with individuals, government establishments, private firms and non-governmental organisations through effective participation.
Inaugural day
Yaqoob Al Ali, Coordinator of the Clean-up the World campaign, said, "The official launch of the event will be held on Tuesday at Al Mamzar Corniche. Beginning at 10am, the launch will witness signing an agreement on collection of religious publications and newspapers from mosques."
"Programmes include activities on avoiding throwing cigarette butts on public places, environment-themed stage presentation by school students, recreation sessions for students through workshops, most beautiful painting competition for school students, clean-up activities at the fishermen's village and honouring and distribution of certificates and souvenirs to the participants," he added.
Second day
Al Ali explained, "The second day of the campaign has been planned with activities to be conducted at Al Mamzar area. Volunteers from government educational institutions will be active in cleaning-up the area, and the programme will include distribution of litter bins to schools, abandoned vehicles removal campaign in coordination with the operations unit and honouring participants and distribution of certificates and souvenirs."
Third day
According to him, volunteers from private schools, colleges and universities will join together at Al Sufooh, on the third day of clean-up campaign. A can collection competition will also be held for private schools.
"In addition to organising workshops on pests in and around waste bins, in coordination with the operations unit, participants will be honoured with distribution of certificates and souvenirs," said Al Ali.
"Organised on the sidelines of the campaign at one of the shopping malls, the awareness programmes include workshops for general public on recycling and reducing waste, which will also focus on making usable materials from waste, distribution of saplings to public to encourage horticulture and its role in curbing climate change, and distribution of awareness publications," he added.
For schools
"Meanwhile, the educational sessions for schools include broadcasting campaign programmes on school radios, lectures. Workshops for school students will give lessons on the importance of waste reduction, arranging visits for students to waste recycling factories and natural sanctuaries in the emirate of Dubai," he noted.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

UAE to manufacture medicine for H1N1

The Gulf Today, 27 Sep 2009

The Federal Ministry of Health (MoH) has endorsed Abu Dhabi-based pharmaceuticals manufacturer Neopharma to produce a generic version of Tamiflu for treating H1N1 infection cases in the UAE.
The pharmaceutical company has received on Saturday the MoH clearance to start production of the antiviral medication Oseltamivir BR Flu.
The sanction has been granted during a meeting of the Higher Committee for Registration and Pricing of Medicines, chaired by MoH advisor Dr Abdul Rahim Ja'afar.
According to him, the UAE becomes one of the first countries to have acquired patent rights from the mother companies producing Tamiflu, with the permission to produce the drug against swine flu.
Dr Amin Hussein Al-Amiri, MoH Executive Director for Medical Practices and License Affairs, said, "The higher committee gave the approval to Neopharma following a close study and scrutiny of the company's proposal and the committee's findings which have proven beyond reasonable doubts that the product is safe and meets international standards."
Dr BR Shetty, Managing Director and CEO of Neopharma, said, "The Oseltamivir BR Flu is the outcome of a joint venture with leading pharmaceuticals major Hetero Drugs and is the first in a series of major life-saving drugs being planned to produce over the next few years in the region."
According to him, the approval for Oseltamivir will significantly facilitate medical professionals and the wider community to effectively tackle the lethal H1N1 virus in the region.
"The endorsement for manufacturing the antiviral drug comes at a time when the entire region is gripped by fears over the H1N1 pandemic. The drug is a potential choice to prevent and treat H1N1 flu in the region," he added.
Prashanth Mangath, Chief Financial Controller of Neopharma told The Gulf Today over phone that the company has the capacity to produce two million capsules every month. We will distribute the drug across the Middle East, with the capacity to manufacture around 60 million BR Flu capsules."
"We produce 75 mg capsules in the first phase, while 30 mg and 45 mg capsules as well as 12 mg per ml paediatric preparation powder will be manufactured in the second phase."
"The first batch of the drug is ready, and we will dispatch half a million capsules to Oman within 10 days," he added.
According to him, Neopharma produces the drug with the support of Hetero Drugs, India's Hyderabad-based pharmaceutical manufacturer that meets about 70 per cent of the Indian government's requirements.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Academic year in UAE to commence as scheduled

The Gulf Today, 20 Sep 2009

The commencement of the new academic year in the public sector will not be postponed in the UAE, confirmed the Federal Ministry of Health (MoH).
"Even though there's no intention to put off the start of the academic year, the Ministry of Education (MoE) will have the complete authority to suspend classes partially for some time in a specific school or a group of schools, or even in a particular class," according to a senior MoH official.
Dr Ali Bin Ahmad Al Shakar, Director General of the MoH and Chairman of the Committee for Combating H1N1, said, "Education zones and school administrations would be given powers to postpone classes partially as per the nature of the infected cases in the particular school. The closure decision will come into effect in coordination with the health ministry."
"Central action will put in place after obtaining consent of the apex authority, in the events of swine flu outbreaks in more than one school," Dr Shakar stated after a meeting of the National Supervisory Committee for Combating Swine Flu. The meeting was held to pass an updated executive plan to combat the spread of the virus in the UAE schools.
According to him, the MoH has agreed with the education ministry to set up a working mechanism, as a secondary option to partially delay the commencement of the academic year in the government sector.
The H1N1 panel passed the updated executive plan as well as a media plan that will further strengthen the country's battle against the influenza. The meeting reviewed the vaccination general plan, for when the vaccine is available by the end of October, according to a WAM statement.
The Federal Health Minister Dr Hanif Hassan chaired the H1N1 panel meeting, in which the committee approved both the plans after taking stock of the general situation in schools.
"The committee also provided a plan for effectively handling the situation of spreading the flu in nurseries, kindergartens and centres for the handicapped children," said the chief executive of the ministry.
"The overall situation after two weeks of starting classes in some schools was very stable, despite the detection of individual infections among students. Roles of stakeholders from the health and education ministries as well as other competent authorities handing the H1N1 virus files were determined during the meeting," he added.
"The MoH had handed out eight types of posters and flyers containing educational and preventive tips on the H1N1 influenza to the MoE that will distribute them to schools," he pointed out.
According to him, students' guardians will be given lessons on the methods of dealing with the disease if it hits one of their kids. The H1N1 preventive strategies were drawn up by the MoH, in association with the Ministry of Social Affairs.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Fund sought for Gulf returnees

The Gulf Today, 15 Sep 2009

A UAE-based expatriate organisation has urged the Indian government to constitute a bill on a welfare fund to pay pension and other benefits to low-income segment returnees of Non-Residents Indians (NRI).
The Pravasi Bandhu Welfare Trust has sent the proposal to the Indian Union Ministry of Overseas Affairs and various state governments for the welfare fund that will benefit low and middle income NRIs.
According to KV Shamsudheen, Chairman of the Pravasi Bandhu Welfare Trust, the Central government of India and state governments should implement a legislation to help NRIs from the respective states, emulating the example of the state of Goa in this regard.
The Goa government had recently drafted a bill for the Non-Resident Goans' Welfare aimed at constituting a welfare fund to pay pension and other benefits to non-resident Indians of Goan origin, when they return and settle permanently in Goa.
"The proposed welfare fund for all Indian expatriates would bring great relief for the low and middle-income group among them. The low-income segment faces a challenging financial situation as they have no resources to continue their present lifestyle when they return to India," said Shamsudheen.
"We request various Indian state governments as well as the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs to constitute a scheme like Provident Fund to safeguard the low and middle income category of NRIs," he said.
According to him, states such as Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Predesh, Rajasthan and Bihar should follow the Goa model for the benefit of the expatriates from those states.
"The Non Resident Goans' Welfare Fund proposes that every non-resident Goan (NRG) member contribute Indian rupees 300 per month. Also, the NRG returnee member who settles permanently in Goa shall contribute 100 rupees to the fund each month," he added.
He explained that the Goan government will also contribute two per cent of the fund annually. NRGs aged between 18 and 55 years were eligible to register as a member of the fund. But a member cannot withdraw from the fund for five years.
"The proposed fund would be used for payment of pension to members who completed 60 years. It would also be used for payment of family pension on the death of a member, provide financial assistance during illness or accident, for marriage or maternity benefit of women members," he said.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

1 billion plastic bags used per year in UAE

The Gulf Today, 13 Sep 2009

The UAE uses about one billion plastic carrier bags per year, and the plastic material account for 10.9 per cent of the total amount of household waste in the country, according to the UAE Ministry of Environment and Water (MOEW).
About 8,000 tonnes of plastic film, used as the material to make bags and wrapping them, has been produced every month in the country, according to a senior official at the MOEW.
In the wake of the statistics, the MOEW has launched a comprehensive campaign aimed at reducing the use of plastic carrier bags in the country, as a first step towards a complete ban on the bags from the year 2013.
Hunaida Quaed, Head of the Education and Awareness section at the MOEW said that supermarkets and retail outlets and other kinds of business establishments will soon be banned from printing their logos on non-biodegradable plastic carrier bags.
"Approved by the UAE cabinet, the logo ban on plastic bags will come into effect this year. However, it's not yet confirmed that when the regulations will be implemented," she added.
According to her, a range of alternatives including jute bags, canvas bags, paper bags and biodegradable plastic bags, can be used instead of plastic carrier bags.
Dr Maryam AlShinasi, Acting Executive Director for Technical Affairs in the MOEW, said, "The campaign titled 'UAE free of plastic bags' aims to create environmental awareness in the community, by educating them on the hazards of plastic bags that pose high risks to the environment."
"The initiative will focus on encouraging the public to reduce the use of plastic carriers and will educate them on the harmful impact of plastics on the environment," she added.
"All segments of the society should take initiatives individually as well as collectively to reduce the use of plastic bags and contribute to the wellbeing of their surrounding environment," she added.
"A special committee will analyse the standard specifications of plastic bags in collaboration with private sector firms, manufacturers and various municipal authorities in the nation," she added.
Al Shinasi said that the ministry has already held a series of meetings in order to prepare a preliminary draft on the specifications and standards that are commensurate with the nature of the UAE.
She said, "Ministerial decisions will come into effect soon, bringing regulations on the use of plastic bags. The plastic bag manufactures will have to abide by the application of revised specifications and standards in production."
According to her, the initiative consists of four phases, focusing on the awareness sessions in the first phase, and bringing out the available alternatives for plastic bags in the second phase.
"Meanwhile, the third phase pertains to legal actions to be enforced by concerned authorities, and the fourth phase is designed for the actual applications to prevent the use of plastic bags that expire in the year of 2013," added Al Shinasi.
"The plastic bags thrown into trash are usually burnt, which increases the emission of toxic particles into the air and that badly contaminates the atmosphere. So, the anti-plastic carrier awareness sessions, which target local as well as expatriate communities, will be conducted across the country in different languages," said Hunaida Quaed.
She said, "Moreover, the plastic products challenge the existence of above 200 different marine species, including fish, seals and sea turtles, dolphins and whales. A number of marine organisms have died due to the toxic impact of the plastic bags, which account for 10 per cent of the total industrial waste ending up in the sea."
According to her, the plastic bags had caused the deaths of a large number of animals both on the land and in the sea, when they swallowed the bags.

H1N1 portal, MoE website linked

The Gulf Today, 13 Sep 2009

The H1N1 influenza dedicated web portal of the UAE Ministry of Health (MoH), has been e-linked with the website of the Ministry of Education (MoE) on Friday, according to a senior health official.
Dr Ali Ahmed Bin Shakar, Director General of the MoH and Chairman of the Technical Health Committee for Combating H1N1, said, "The latest move has been taken to complement the MoH's efforts to provide updated information about the disease on time."
"Such information will be released in a way that employees of the education ministry as well as other educational institutions will be given can access to the database as well as the measures to be taken by the MoH," he added.
According to him, the dedicated portal will also track updates issued by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

H1N1 measures
The UAE Education Minister Humaid Mohammed Al Qattami on Friday gave directives for all the schools to take H1N1 precautionary measures without sparking fears among students or affecting classes.
"The principals are incharge of carrying out the mission of educating the staff members and students on methods of combating the H1N1 virus outbreak. A daily newsletter also has to be read at all schools at their morning meetings," he said.
"A team led by principal should be formed in each school for overseeing the swine flu precautionary measures. The principals are also responsible for dealing with suspected H1N1 cases as well as implementing hygiene and protection measures," he said.

WHO's advice
Meanwhile, the WHO on Friday issued advice on measures to be carried out in schools for reducing the impact of the swine flu pandemic, the state newswire WAM said.
These studies were undertaken by members of a WHO informal network for mathematical modelling of the pandemic.
The WHO's recommendations had been drawn in the wake of schools closure announcement in several countries.
In order to avoid the social, economic and health consequences due to the closure of schools, the WHO has urged students, teachers and other school staffs to stay home, if they feel unwell.
According to the WHO, the main benefit of closing the proactive schools comes from slowing down the spread of the outbreak of H1N1 within a given area and thus flattening the peak of infections.
A range of measures have been recommended by the WHO that can be adapted to the local epidemiological situation, available resources, and the social role played by many schools.
"All schools should have effective plans in place as well as secluded space should be made available for isolating students and staff members, who fell ill while at school," recommended the WHO.
In its website it said that schools should promote hand hygiene practices and respiratory etiquette. In order to reduce spread of the virus by crowding, proper cleaning and ventilation measures should be carried out.
"Experience till has demonstrated the role of schools in amplifying transmission of the pandemic virus, both within schools and the wider community. While the outbreak in schools are clearly an important dimension of the current pandemic, no single measure can stop or limit transmission in schools, which provide multiple opportunities for spread of the virus," said the WHO.Eid in Dubai to see marriage of tradition, festivities

Thursday, September 10, 2009

MOEW monitors red tide phenomenon

The Gulf Today, 10 Sep 2009

The UAE Ministry of Environment and Water (MOEW) is monitoring the movement of the red tide phenomenon that has appeared on the east coast of the UAE.
The ministry is taking efforts to control the red tide, which has spread widely across the coast, especially in Dibba, Fujairah, Kalba and Khor Fukhan areas, said a senior official.
"The emergence of the phenomenon in the areas has become intense with odours spreading in several parts of the affected areas," said Dr Ibrahim Al Jamali, director of the Center for Marine Environmental Research (CMER).
"In order to facilitate control of the phenomenon, the CMER has collected samples from the red tide for conducting further analysis and check out the reasons," he added.
According to Jamali, the red tide has become prevalent in the upper layers of water from one to five metres, and the number of their cells comes between 3000 and 200000 per litre. The samples have been tested for vesicles coming 20 to 30 per cent in each litre of affected water.
"Toxicity tests were also conducted, which showed the absence of any types of poisonous elements that causes more dangers. No mortality of fish resources or other marine organisms have also been observed," he pointed out.
"The process of red tide has been assumed as a result of climate change and associated phenomena such as wind, South-West monsoon. The assumption is based on the results of the previous analysis on the issue," he added.
"Meanwhile, the ministry urges fishermen and sea-goers to follow the guidelines and abide by the regulations drawn by the authorities aimed at keeping public health and safety standards," noted Jamali.
"They are advised not to fish in the areas where red tides have appeared, as well as to avoid collecting and eating fish products killed by red tide. Also, swimming in the affected areas will harm their health such as allergenic and respiratory complications," he added.