Monday, May 31, 2010

UAE announces national nutrition strategy

26 May 2010, The Gulf Today

The first national nutrition strategy of the UAE has been announced by the Ministry of Health (MoH) on Tuesday.
An executive committee will implement and follow up the national nutrition strategy, aimed at improving the nutritious status of the UAE residents in all age groups, according to health officials.
“Several components included in the nutrition strategy, such as dissemination of health and nutrition awareness in the UAE community, promotion of breastfeeding and healthy foods and physical education, in addition to the enhancement of mineral foods and micronutrients,” said Dr Salem Al Darmaki, Acting Director General of the MoH.
“The first national nutrition strategy has been launched by the MoH, in tandem with the World Health Organisation (WHO), to achieve health services of global standards in the UAE,” he added.
Dr Darmaki said the UAE’s health sector has been facing a range of challenges with proportional increase of non-communicable and lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, heart diseases, high blood pressure due to the health patterns and behaviors of improper nutrition and physical inactivity,” he added. 
According to him, the MoH recognises the importance of good nutrition as a basis for the prevention of non-communicable diseases.
“The ministry worked with the WHO to develop the national nutrition strategy for the years 2010 to 2015, to improve the nutrition habits and reduce the rate of obesity and non-communicable diseases among different categories of the society, especially women and children,” said Dr Darmaki.
“The MoH will put into action the national nutrition strategy with various programmes in government and private sector, to increase the awareness of the residents on the importance of healthy habits as well as benefiting from various health services,” he explained.
“The primary healthcare sector will emphasise on early nutritional intervention programmes as they could effectively support the diagnosis and treatment process for diseases due to malnutrition,” he added.
According to him, the most prevalent common diseases due to malnutrition are coronary heart diseases, cerebrovascular diseases, injuries, high blood pressure, in addition to cancers and obesity.

MoH turns up heat on tobacco

The Gulf Today, 25 May 2010

Following the federal anti-tobacco law announced last year, the UAE Ministry of Health (MoH) is currently working on implementing the framework and executive by-laws for tobacco control in the country by developing various strategies to cut the consumption rate and reduce the demand for tobacco products.
Health officials at an anti-tobacco workshop held by the MoH in Dubai, in tandem with the World Health Organisation (WHO), on Monday said that the ministry will ensure optimal application and implementation of the national anti-tobacco law to regulate the use of tobacco products in the country.
The WHO delegation is currently on a visit to the UAE to evaluate the anti-tobacco programme and review procedures taken by the local authorities to control tobacco use.
President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan issued the National Anti-Tobacco Law on Jan.6, 2009 aimed at building a tobacco-resistant generation in the country.
Speaking at the seminar, Dr Hanif Hassan, the Minister of Health, said that the UAE’s draft anti-tobacco law had been announced years ago and the implementation of the federal law of 2009, in accordance with related studies on the legislation, will safeguard public health and have a great impact.
“The UAE spares no efforts to review and enact the legislation and by-laws, in cooperation with the competent authorities. The younger generation will be educated on the adverse effects of tobacco use and on the necessity of health protection, reduction of healthcare burdens, as well as economic, social and environmental impacts of the harmful behavior,” he added.
According to Dr Hassan, the law aims at complete elimination of tobacco usage and consumption by the community members by encouraging smokers to quit smoking.
Dr Salem Al Darmaky, Acting Director General of the MoH, said the federal anti-tobacco federal law consists of 22 articles, in addition to more annexes and explanations on some articles.
“Certain articles discuss the standard specifications of tobacco products, packaging and labeling of tobacco products, images and health warnings, permissible level of nicotine content as well as other items need more clarifications and explanations that can be easily implemented in reality,” he explained.
Darmaky added that the regulations have not been designed to destruct related business activities, but to construct a tobacco-resistant generation in the country.
“All sorts of materials and strategies to promote tobacco products or smoking habit, through direct or indirect advertising, have been prohibited under the law,” he said.
"The companies or individuals, who promote the tobacco products or advertise them in any way, will be convicted. Their publicity tools and materials will be confiscated in addition to closure of the firms," pointed out Dr Darmaky.
Dr Mahmoud Fikry, CEO for Health Policies at the MoH said that different forms of tobacco and its consumption methods have become an addictive habit and part of part of customs and values of many communities.
“Tobacco production companies promote the smoking and employ their marketing experts in order to ensure the continuous increasing incomes. So, the law will face this attitude that actually risks the public and private health,” he added.
Dr Fikry hoped the new law will help reduce the rate of smokers in the country as well as lessening passive smoking effects.
“The anti-tobacco team at the MoH would pursue its activities to educate members of the public about health risks of smoking and the new law and its provisions,” he said.
Dr Wedad Al Maidoor, Head of the National Tobacco Control Committee at the MoH and Director of PHC in Dubai Medical District, said that the rate of smoking among adults in the UAE is 24 per cent as per the health survey conducted in 2003, and it’s the major contributor to deaths caused by cardiovascular diseases in the country. The lung cancer deaths comprise 14 per cent of deaths caused by cancer.
“The tobacco consumption rate in the Gulf region has become an economic, social and health burden for more than 50 years due to the rapid and continuous phenomenon of smoking cigars and Shisha,” she added.

A life lost in transition

The Gulf Today, 24 May 2010

MOHAMMED Abdulla's job involved discarding disposable tea cups. In a tragic twist of tale, his own life was crushed when the passenger plane crashed in South India's Mangalore airport on Saturday morning.
Sixty-year-old Abdulla has been working as an outdoor delivery boy at Al Hujoon Cafeteria in Sharjah's Rolla area for about 18 years. He was well known among the locality's residents and business people, whom Abdulla served tea for years.
"He couldn't fulfill his dream of spending the sunset of his life in his own soil or his own hut in Arikkod Kadavu of Kumbala village in Kasaragode of the Southern India," says Fahad Manayath, a colleague of Abdulla.
"What has he done to deserve such punishment?" Fahad wailed in a state of shock.
"Abdulla returned home in penury even after decades of ceaseless labour in the hot desert sun, but half way through fate rerouted his trip to the world where there's no poverty," said Abdul Kader, a salesman in the next shop to Abdulla's cafeteria.
"The ill-fated unskilled worker from a lower middle class background lived in the UAE for 30 years a vacation-less and fun-less life," he added.
"Fervent dreams of a comfortable future for his children sustained him in the scorching desert heat. At last, he departed not waiting for the sympathy and generosity of the world," said Kader.
"I couldn't digest the news of his demise. Even yesterday evening, he served us tea. On the evening of the day of his departure too, he served me tea and snacks at my office," recollected a supermarket manager in the vicinity.
"Being a senior citizen, working still for his poor family back in India, Abdulla was well respected among us," he added.
"Now settled in Uddavaram in Manjeshwaram on the border area of Kerala and Karnataka states after selling off his property for daughter's marriage, Abdulla left for India this time for treatment of diabetes, severe pain on knees and high blood pressure," said Mohammed, owner of the Al Hujun Cafeteria.
He added, "Abdulla wished to return and continue his job. But while leaving he was unsure sure about the return, as he was suffering from the ailments for years. He said, he would come back only if got cured fully from the diseases."
According him, Abdulla came to the UAE about 25 years ago through Mumbai, and worked for eight years at a cafeteria called Al Ajidad, near Quwait mosque in Sharjah.
"He left the workplace as he was unable to survive with the low pay and later joined our restaurant, where he worked on a commission basis getting Dhs20 for a collection of Dhs100. So, he managed to earn more bucks," remarked Mohammed.
He noted, "Abdulla survived with a wife, seven children, including four girls and three boys. He married off two daughters earlier, and was now leaving for India planning the third daughter's marriage."
"His son Musthafa, who also works in a supermarket behind the cafeteria, left for India upon the news about his father's tragic demise in the tragedy.
Unfortunately, he could not attend Abdulla's funeral rites as Air India delayed its scheduled flight and the bereaved family members in India were helpless to wait with the charred body until the time of the son's arrival," he explained.
The poignant story of the unskilled worker spread grievance among the expatriate community from the Kasaragode district of Kerala and residents and business people in the Rolla area of Sharjah.

Providential Escape

23 May 2010, The Gulf Today

The decision of a moment diverted them to an extended lease of delightful life.
Mohammed Shareef, a sales executive working at RAK Paints, would have lost lives of five members in his family including his own and his expected child's, if he hadn't cancelled his journey to his native place, Mangalore.
"Thank God for making me postpone the trip," he sighed in relief, referring to the ill-fated Air India Express flight, which he was supposed to take.
Hailing from Uppinangadi - a village proximate to Mangalore - Shareef, his pregnant wife Rukhsana, elderly mother Mariyumma and two-year-old daughter Shazmi, had scheduled their trip to Mangalore on Friday night by the Air India Express carrier Boeing 737-800 that crashed on Saturday.
"My pregnant wife was unable to fly on the day as per the schedule, so I postponed the trip for May 25 a few hours before the time," he said.
"My cousin Noushad, who is running an advertising firm in Sharjah, is supposed to come back to Dubai by the crashed flight in its return, scheduled for 8am Indian time," he added.
Anil Kumar, a salesman in City Light Electrical Suppliers in Rolla, had also postponed his scheduled trip by the crashed Flight IX892, eventually saving his life and dreams.
Kumar, hailing from Uduma area in Kasargode, said, "Due to urgent workload in our showroom, my manager forcefully asked me to cancel the journey."
"I am grateful to God for his mercy in saving my life, and to my superior for forcing to cancel the trip," he added.
Workload also pulled back Kunhikannan Chandu, a supermarket manager at Lulu in Al Qusais, from traveling by the crashed Air India Express carrier to Mangalore.
Chandu, a native of Kanjnagad in Kasargode district, said, "As my superior officer requested, I had to postpone my emergency leave taken for my son's college admission procedures."
"Thank God for saving me and my family," he added.
Ibrahim Moideen Kunju, employee of Daniel Cigarette factory, escaped death by a whisker thanks to a last minute goof-up. “I was planning to travel with a neighbour on the crashed plane, but had to cancel at the last minute because I could not get my passport back from the company HR manager.”
“The manager had promised to return it on Saturday and I did not inform my family about cancelling the trip. I had got married only three months ago and my wife, Fathima Najma, called me in the morning to know if I was alive,” he added.
Another person who had a narrow escape is Steven Rego, a student of Alosius College in Mangalore. Says his mother, Sheela Rego: “God had different plans. He was to board that flight. I booked the ticket for him but was confused about the date. We though the flight was at 1.15am tonight, so he did not make it. My son has been saved.”
Thresiamma Philip, a nurse in Dibba of Dubai, also missed the flight due to the same goof-up about its timing. “I thought the flight was on Saturday night. I saw my name among the list of dead being put out, but I am alive. I was going to Mangalore to meet my daughter studying there.
Hameed, secretary of a building owner in Rolla, said that his two friends had cancelled their trip by the crashed flight during the last hours, and flew to Calicut.
"The duo, businessmen Ameer and Basheer, changed their route in fear of getting trapped in a local strike and related safety risks due to a communal riot going around near Malligarjuna temple in part of Kararagode," he said.
"Eight other people from the same locality had also rerouted their trip through Calicut airport by Emirates flight, cancelling in the last moments their journey by the ill-fated Air India Express to Mangalore," said Khaleel, a shop owner from their native place in Kasargode.
"There was also a scare about the attacks from the communal rioters that emerged after the temple's wall was painted with colours and pictures resembling other religion's symbols," added the shop owner.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Retailers in Rolla mourn Mangalore air crash victims

23 May 2010, The Gulf Today

The retail business community in Sharjah’s Rolla Square was in a state of shock after the Air India Express passenger plane crashed outside the Mangalore Airport in South India on Saturday.
The disaster killed at least a dozen workers from Kasargod district of Kerala employed in the market, while others working there lost relatives, friends and family.
The workers had happily seen off the victims at Dubai airport on the eve of the tragedy. The ill-fated 
were the sole breadwinners of their family.
One of the crash victims, 60-year-old Abdulla Mohammed, has been working at Al Hujoon Cafeteria in Rolla for about 20 years and was well-known among the residents and business people in the area.
“He was the market’s oldest men traveled by the crashed-passenger plane. I couldn’t digest the news of his demise. Even yesterday (Friday) evening, he served us tea,” recollected a supermarket manager in the vicinity.
“Being a senior citizen, working still for his poor family back in India, Abdulla was well respected among us. He had walked into each shop and bade his friends farewell in the excitement of heading home,” he added.
“He hailed from Arikkode Kadavathu in Kumbala area of Kasaragode. He left for India this time for treatment of a range of diseases, saying that he would return if he is cured fully,” said his colleague Fahad Manayath.
“He was going home to make arrangements for his daughter’s wedding. Residents, colleagues and friends of Abdullah came searching for him at the restaurant immediately after the news of the plane crash,” he added.
Mohammed Rafi, nephew of Abdulla, an employee of Al Kabayel Toys store in Rolla, has also died in the accident.
“The day was a black Saturday for all of us,” said Mohammed Shammer, a salesman at the toys shop, who lost roommate Rafi in the crash.
“Upon knowing the tragedy, Abdulla’s son Musthafa, who also working in the same area in a supermarket adjacent to his father’s restaurant, left for India to claim the bodies and attend burial ceremonies,” said Mohammed, owner of the Al Hujun Cafeteria.
Another victim of the plane crash was Balakrishnan Mullacheri, a sales executive at Al Ameera Supermarket in the same location.
Jayanth Lal, manager of the supermarket, said, “Balakrishnan was not ready to go this time, but was forced to fly to India for the treatment to his critically-sick mother.”
“We were informed through media channels about the death of the 48-year-old Mullachery. He was a gentleman. He worked with us for more than 10 years and we would have never let him go,” said Sukhdev Patidar, the owner of the supermarket.
Many other business people and workers in Rolla have lost their friends and relatives residing in different parts of the UAE.
Staff from Sahara Centre in Rolla, Durrathul Khaleej and other shops in the market also reported cases of deaths of their staff and relatives of staff members.

Gulf countries generate 22.2 million tons of solid waste in 2009

Dubai, today, creates more than 10,000 tonnes of general waste a day. MEWS 2010 has been organised to call for alternative methods to deal with the region's growing waste menace. Debris from construction and demolition accounts for three quarters of the total waste generated in the UAE.

19 May 2010, The Gulf Today

MUNICIPAL solid waste generated in the Gulf countries during the year 2009 has been estimated at a massive amount of over 22.2 million tonnes. This was revealed at the second edition of the Middle East Waste Summit (MEWS 2010) opened in Dubai on Tuesday.
The three-day international environment conference, which runs until May 20 at the Palladium in Dubai Media City under the patronage of Dubai Municipality (DM), has called for alternative methods to deal with the region's growing waste menace.
Addressing the MEWS 2010 opening session, Salah Abdulrahman Al Amiri, assistant director general of environment and public health services sector at the DM, said that the waste treatment and disposal methods by experimenting alternative methods and utilising international expertise will bring mutual scientific and financial benefits.
"About 4.6 million tonnes of industrial solid waste has also been produced during the past year by the GCC countries. Today, many GCC countries rank higher than developed countries in terms of per capita waste generation," he added.
Viable solutions for the waste management issues of the Gulf and other Middle Eastern territories are being discussed at the MEWS 2010, with an exhibition of waste management products also being conducted. Over 200 industry leaders are participating in the event.
"Rapid urbanisation, high population growth rates, diversified cultures, floating populations and high consumption have brought about significant waste management challenges in the GCC region, where the countries now collectively produce more than 120 million tonnes of waste per year," said Al Amiri.
According to him, Dubai also faces challenges, like other modern cities, in environmental protection due to the increasing quantities of waste produced in the emirate as a result of rapid urban developments and increased industrial activities during the past decade. Dubai, today, creates more than 10,000 tonnes of general waste a day, one of the highest quantities in the region.
"The efforts should be continued effectively towards creating a healthy, clean and sustainable environment for the future generations, through appropriate solutions through the use of best practices and latest technologies in waste management," he noted.
"Recycling becomes an increasingly important waste management option, as it can make good environmental and economic sense given the right conditions. Conservation of natural resources, saving of energy in production and transport, reduction of risks of pollution and production of less expensive goods are also the advantages of recycling," explained Al Amiri.
"But there are other options like land filling and incineration which must and will be studied in the realm of applying the best and most optimum solution suitable to our country, and here again stems the need to look for the most experienced companies, especially those which reward us as a governmental department," he pointed out.
The individual waste production rate in the UAE is among the high international rates, according to Obaid Bin Essa Ahmed, executive director of the municipalities coordination office and in-charge of environment affairs at the UAE Ministry of Environment and Water (MOEW).
Addressing the inaugural session, entitled 'Global climate change and the waste industry,' he said, "Debris from construction and demolition [accounts for] three quarters of the total waste generated in the UAE. The incessant increase in the waste generation raises anxieties over the safe disposal of the waste to ward off the risks for the environment and dangers for the public health."
"Major government initiatives, like the National Centre for Cleaner Production, and plans to rehabilitate the nation's landfills affecting the UAE's waste management efforts are on the anvil," he noted.
"Federal and local standards for organised waste management operations in the UAE have also been included in the future plan of the environment ministry, which focuses on effective management of hazardous waste with the best available techniques," Ahmed said.
"Waste management is a political will, which is missing now, often forced by disasters like Italy's Seveso in 1976 and Naples in 2008 and India's Bhopal in 1984," said Dr Andreas Monnig, CEO of the German Association for Waste Management, in his presentation titled "The Future is Product Responsibility and Resource Preservation".
"It's not only an organisational and technical challenge. The conditions to be precedent are the political will, law and regulations and acceptance of the public," he added.
"Two billion tonnes of rubbish, including hazardous waste, are generated by European countries per year. Each country has to recycle more than 55 per cent of their municipal waste to reduce the contribution to climate change. Unfortunately, less than 10 per cent is only recycled, and the rest goes to landfills," explained Monnig.
Fareed Bushehri, regional DTIE officer of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), remarked in his speech that another planet is needed to store our waste, if we continue to produce the waste.
"Majority of municipal wastes are organic, which should be addressed by integrated solid waste management solutions with strategic approach to sustainable control of solid waste. Plans and monitory actions should be developed by authorities to implement integrated solid waste management," he added.
Chris Fountain, managing director of Turret Middle East, a partner of the MEWS 2010, said that waste management has become a priority concern among Middle Eastern societies.
"The issue of uncontrolled waste affects the entire Arab community and so we need to engage in continuous and comprehensive dialogue to come up with unified strategies for addressing this growing threat," he added.
Dubai Municipality organised the Middle East Waste Summit 2010, in association with Turret-Middle East.
The MEWS 2010 discusses strategies for waste avoidance and resource management; policy, regulation and enforcement issues; waste to energy; municipal waste and recycling; construction and industrial waste management, and waste procurement.
Round tables on topics ranging from waste oil and medical waste treatment to electronic waste solutions and composting were also conducted on the sidelines of the MEWS 2010.
Hassan Makki, director of waste management department at the DM, said that the number of participants in the 2009 edition of the MEWS was 2,691 from more than 53 countries.
"Meanwhile the number of visitors to the exhibition was 1,759, who carried their ideas to Dubai and presented projects as solutions to the problem of growing quantities of waste. [They also] discussed the best ways to get rid of them to ensure healthy and safe environment for the emirate's community," he added.
According to him, Dubai Municipality developed the MEWS as a platform for governments and businesses in the region to discuss the growing threat posed by improperly managed waste. 

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Medical teams to be trained on organ transplantation

20 May 2010, The Gulf Today
TRAINING sessions for specialist doctors and surgeons, nurses and transplant teams, in addition to public awareness sessions on organ donation and transplantation will be the next step in the implementation of the UAE's revolutionary organ transplants law.
The appendix approved by the UAE Health Council with the definition, guidelines and regulations on the practice of organ transplant, will come into effect in the UAE from the date of its publishing in the official gazette, according to health officials.
The regulation to allow donation of life-sustaining organs in the country is in light of a worldwide shortage of organs, said Dr Ali Abdul Kareem Al Obaidli, chairman of the National Organ Transplant Committee, consultant of nephrology and kidney transplantation at Sheikh Khalifa Medical City, and chief clinical officer for the Abu Dhabi Health Services Company.
"The adoption of the regulations will provide opportunities for the coordination among the Gulf countries for organ donation, as is the case among European countries and the United States and Canada," he added.
The groundbreaking move was hailed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the medical fraternity in the Emirates. The WHO said that the new regulation would tackle human organs black markets in the UAE and the region as well as organ transplant tourism, as people travel abroad for an operation.
Dr Obaidli said, "The law has specified that the organ transplant must be conducted with respect to the human dignity during its removal from body, and should be protected from abuse or mutilation. [Moreover], information about the donor's body or body of the deceased should not be disclosed unnecessarily."
The MoH circular had said that the transplant of organs could be from live or dead donors other than the relatives of the patient. If the organs are transplanted after the donor's death, a written consent of the donor or the first and second degree relatives of the donor is mandatory.
According to the document released by the National Organ Transplant Committee on Sunday, transplants of kidneys, liver, lung, pancreas and the heart are permitted in the UAE.
Living people above the age of 21, having perfect mental and physical fitness, will be able to donate their organ, if it can be removed without endangering the donor's life.
However, the Health Council could not reveal exact statistics on how many people needed organ transplants in the UAE.
The MoH circular had pointed out that the organ transplantation surgeries will be conducted only at special centres, clinics and hospitals licensed by the health ministry.
The largest hospital in the UAE's capital, Sheikh Khalifa Medical City (SKMC), has performed around 25 live transplants, after the facility set up a multi-organ transplant programme in 2008.
Except in the case of a cornea transplant, the country currently allows organ transplants only from related, live donors because of the risks involved in accepting organs from unrelated persons.
The law has clarified the ambiguity over transplants using vital organs from brain-dead persons, said Roberta Al Housani Blakely, transplant coordinator at SKMC.
Experts from Dubai had played a major role in drafting the Istanbul Declaration of 2008, which called for the prohibition of organ trafficking and transplant tourism. The declaration, signed by 72 countries, stated that countries should strive to achieve self-sufficiency in organ donation by providing adequate number of organs for residents in need from within the country or through regional cooperation.

Second phase of anti-diabetes campaign launched

20 May 2010, The Gulf Today

The National Diabetes Prevention Committee under the UAE Ministry of Health (MoH) has launched on Wednesday the second phase of the anti-diabetes campaign with various activities involving shopping malls, organisations and commercial establishments across the seven Emirates in the country.
The second phase of the MoH’s anti-diabetes drive includes conducting free blood sugar tests to the general public, in addition to other education sessions as well as distribution of health education materials, according to a senior MoH member.
Dr Mahmood Fikri, Executive Director for Health Policies at the MoH and Chairman of National Diabetes Prevention Committee, said that the drive aims at enhancing the prevention of diabetes, and its contractions as well as the introduction to the national campaign that will end on Nov 14.
“The campaign will continue throughout the forthcoming months in a number of shopping malls, public and private departments all over the UAE,” he added. “Since the launch of the campaign coinciding with the World Diabetes Day to fight diabetes our activities witnessed very positive response from a number of health organisations and this encouraged us to make greater efforts in increasing our diabetes plans and strategies,” he noted.
According to Dr Fikri, the campaign does not depend on early detection programmes only.
“It includes lectures and seminars to be conducted at the premises of participating companies, organistions and public places. The campaign also aims to ratify and record updated information about the situation diabetes in the UAE,” he said.
The comprehensive data could be used in hospitals, healthcare centres and clinics across the UAE, said Dr Fikri.

Fat-free flavored Trim milk banned in UAE

May 18 2010, The Gulf Today

The use, import and distribution of non-fat Trim milk flavoured with mint and lemon has been banned in the UAE by the Federal Ministry of Environment and Water (MOEW) on Monday.
The ban of the fat-free or milk brand, which is marketed in the UAE as a dairy product which can burn the body’s fat or lose weight, comes as part of a strategy to ensure essential food safety measures to the residents, says senior MOEW official.
The resolution has been taken by the ministry's food safety committee in tandem with competent authorities of the nation for implementation of the new conditions.
Obeid Al Matrouchi, Acting Director General at the MOEW, said the ban has been implemented in an administrative decision by the ministry, as the manufacturer of the milk product was found to trading it without obtaining a license from the concerned authorities.
“The food control authority in Abu Dhabi and Municipalities in all seven emirates have been directed by the ministry to withdraw all existing packages of the mint and lemon flavoured dairy product from the markets across the UAE,” he added.
According to him, the ban will continue until the manufacturer adheres to the regulations in this regard, and corrects the violations by removing the reasons behind the ban.
“After clearing it of the ban, the milk producer will be permitted to import the particular product and make it available across the UAE markets. The public can rely on the product only after it proves to be strictly following country's food safety regulations," he added.
An MOEW statement read that the product claims itself to be therapeutic with messages like the milk help consumers to maintain their body fitness getting rid of excess fat and weight. It’s advertised as helping to build muscle and strengthen the bones.
Al Matrouchi said that the director general of the MOEW highlighted the significance of standardisation of food safety measures and ensuring public safety by applying the conditions across the country.
“The environment ministry will coordinate between the local authorities in the country to ensure the safety and quality of traded food items in the local markets,” he added.
Skim milk is whole milk from dairy cows that has most or all of it’s fat removed, according to a food quality controller working in Dubai.
“Many research studies, mostly funded by the dairy industry, have over the past few years has suggested that including skim milk or fat-free milk into diet can help people lose weight,” she said.

Dubai’s salon workers to get hygiene lessons

17 May 2010, The Gulf Today

AIMED at reducing risk of infections at ladies and gents salons as well as barber shops operating in the emirate, Dubai Municipality (DM) has launched a month-long hygiene campaign to educate technicians and workers at such salons.
The public awareness campaign, titled "Together for Better Health and Safety," will focus on reducing the risk of infections through unhygienic conditions and equipment in the salons, said a senior DM official.
Meanwhile, inaugurating the campaign, assistant director general for general support services sector at the DM, Abdullah Rafia said, "The programme arose from a need to make the general consumer and salon staff knowledgeable of the dangers of passing on diseases through re-use of un-sterilised equipments and unhygienic conditions in salons."
"The campaign will be taken to the public through press and radio publicity campaigns as well as a series of promotions in stores of Union Cooperative Society (UCS) across Dubai and selected shopping malls on weekends," he added.
Redha Hassan Salman, director of public health and safety department at the DM, said that during the campaign the municipality inspectors will be going to the barber shops and beauty salons to create awareness among the customers and the staff of the salons.
"They will talk to the barbers and remind them about the need for maintaining hygienic practices," he added. "They will also approach public and if they have any questions regarding the safety they will be answering them."
According to him, the DM inspectors conducted 26,000 inspections in the 3,500 ladies and gents salons in Dubai last year. "Out of these inspections, 2006 violations were noticed and all of them were brought to compliance immediately due to the punitive measures taken by the municipality," said Salman.
Information leaflets and special giveaways will be distributed to the public from the campaign sponsors through the promotions.
"The campaign will help educate and instill awareness among the Dubai residents on the need to adopt safe practices for good grooming and ways to ensure implementation of these best practices," said Vincenzo Ventricelli, MEA marketing director of Philips Consumer Lifestyle, a sponsor of the campaign.
There were also two live demonstrations during the launching of the campaign: the first one on safe practices of ladies manicure and pedicure, and the second one on hygienic men's hair-cutting methods.
Events at UCS outlets include setting up a DM stand for the distribution of leaflets and questionnaires. Promotional gifts such as towels and combs of the campaign will be given to those who fill up the questionnaires.
Two shopping malls each will be targeted for the event in Deira and Bur Dubai including Bur Juman Centre, Lamcy Plaza, Reef Mall and Al Khaleej Centre.

Health ministry conducts asthma survey

The survey will be the first epidemiological study conducted in the UAE about the symptoms of asthma infections and its rates in the country. It is to be carried out in three phases.

16 May 2010, The Gulf Today

IN order to prepare a curative instructional manual for the primary healthcare centres of the UAE, the Ministry of Health (MoH) has started to conduct a nationwide survey to identify epidemiological factors causing asthma among the UAE children.
The survey will be the first epidemiological study conducted in the UAE about the symptoms of asthma infections and its rates in the country. It targets children in the age groups of six to seven years, and 13 to 14 years old, and is to be carried out in three phases. The first phase, which begins this month, will run until November, according to a senior MoH official.
An earlier survey had revealed that the UAE has one of the highest rates of asthma in the world, with 13 per cent diagnosed rates, and that 68 per cent of the asthmatics suffer from day-time symptoms and 59 per cent experience a limitation of activity due to asthma.
Dr Mahmood Fikri, executive director for health policies at the MoH, said that the ministry will prepare instructional manuals for asthma care in the primary health sector in line with the survey to identify the risk factors contributing to the increase of asthmatic patients in the country.
"A medical database will be developed based on collective guidelines to prepare significant conclusions about the causes of the disease and its rates in the UAE," he added.
"The manual will take shape as a significant tool to ensure global standards safety and care for the asthmatic patients and help them to be active partners in the society," pointed out Dr Fikri.
According to him, the manual will encourage doctors and physicians to raise the society's awareness on the effects of asthma. A workshop about the ways of implementing the instructional manuals in public and private healthcare authorities will also be organised.
"The second phase of the survey will run from November to December. The survey questionnaire will be distributed both in Arabic and English languages in order to assist the physicians in understanding and applying unified curative guidelines," he said.
"Meanwhile, the third phase of the survey assesses the successful results of the curative instructional manuals and their role in improving diagnosis and treatment," said Dr Fikri.
He added that a group of specialists will evaluate the results to prepare the asthma curative instructional manual. A comprehensive comparison of the data, and findings of the survey as well as registered infection rates will be announced at the end of the survey.
The MoH has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with pharmaceutical manufacturer, Astrazeneca, to carry out the survey in all the seven emirates.
Dr Ahmad Ibrahim Saif Kalban, CEO of the primary health care sector at the DHA, had earlier said that the impact of asthma, especially on young children, drastically affects their quality of life as many of them cannot even attend school due to chronic asthma.
"Lack of awareness about the condition in the UAE is the key factor in increasing the number of asthmatic patients. Polluted air, persistent dust and other environmental factors dwarf effective and sufficient management of the disease in the country," he pointed out.
"Meanwhile, the bronchiole asthma is mainly caused by hereditary factor. The habit of eating junk food is also a reason for the current levels of increase in asthma," added Dr Kalban.
According to him, asthma can be managed properly and will not affect the patient's quality of life to a large extent, if diagnosed early.
According to the earlier survey, about 56 per cent of asthmatics in the UAE have been reported to be using rescue medication for the disease and 52 per cent reported emergency visits in the UAE.
Across the world, an estimated 300 million people suffer from asthma, with 250,000 deaths attributed to the disease every year.

Municipality stresses self-verification for building permits in Dubai

14 May 2010, The Gulf Today

The buildings department of Dubai Municipality (DM) has issued a circular to all building consultancy offices operating in the emirate, to submit special forms for self-verification to obtain permit for building villas in the emirate.
All engineers and designers assigned for the villa projects have been asked to abide by the mentioned features, according to a senior DM official.
Khalid Mohammed Saleh, Director of Buildings Department at the DM, said that building consultancy offices have to do their own review of the plans submitted for building permits before submission at the municipality and comply with the conditions stated in the forms.
“The civic body has prepared a list of conditions and basic observations which must be fulfilled in the transactions regarding the villas when applying for building permits,” he added.
“The verification forms should include the architectural, structural, thermal insulation, and sewage features. The circular will give more powers to the consulting firms,” said Saleh.
“The circular has been issued aimed at developing procedures for building permits in full partnership from all those are involved in the licensing process,Ó he added.
“The procedures will be implemented by identifying the tasks and responsibilities and standards that are clear and precise for all bodies, and activate the self-performance as they can submit and complete in accordance with best international standards,” explained Saleh.
He said, “The special forms will popularise the laws and regulations through the application of a direct process, and activating the role of the consulting offices in the process of facilitating and simplifying the licensing procedures.”
“It will also reduce the time necessary to complete transactions through the powers granted to them, and raise the quality of work through the direct verification by the engineer and designer and take up responsibility for the verification process,” he noted.
The Circular No. 179 regarding forms for self-verification for the villas is addressed to all consulting offices operating in the emirate of Dubai.
An electronic copy of the forms can be downloaded from, the web portal of the municipality’s buildings department, or obtained from the DM customer service centre.

UAE bans printing on non-degradable plastic carry bags

12 May 2010, The Gulf Today

The UAE Ministry of Environment and Water (MOEW) has issued a ministerial resolution prohibiting printing on non-biodegradable plastic carry bags.
Environment ministry officials said that shops were not allowed to print commercial names, products names, advertisements, and anything else on non-biodegradable plastic bags, under the new resolution.
Dr Rashid Ahmad Bin Fahad, the Minister of Environment and Water, has issued a ministerial resolution No.238/2010 on Tuesday in this regard.
The decision comes in line with the ministry's programmes for environmental security by improving awareness and implementing actions to gradually reduce consumption of plastic bags in the country in order to ban such products completely by the year 2013, according to a senior MOEW official.
Dr Mariam Al Shinasi, Executive Director of Technical Affairs at the MOEW, said that the resolution 5/77 of 2009 by the Ministerial Council for Services has approved prohibiting the use of plastic bags and other plastic products that are non-biodegradable and do not comply with the approved standards, starting from first of January, 2013.
“The resolution number 5/376 of 2009 has also listed the dangers of printing on non-biodegradable plastic bags” she added.
According to her, the ‘UAE free of plastic bags' initiative was part of the ministry's objectives to create awareness on the hazards of plastic bags on the environment.
Dr Al Shinasi explained that all commercial and industrial printing on plastic and biodegradable bags has been prohibited. Names of stores and products or advertisements for shops and commercial centres and other service providers cannot be printed on such bags hereafter in the UAE.
"Plastic bags do not degrade very easily, remaining in the environment for a very long period of time. It is also responsible for 50 per cent of the trash that defame the beautiful streets of the UAE," she said.
"The decision is expected to be significantly protecting the country's environment and public health and existence of animals as the plastic bags pose serious danger to them," she pointed out.
The environment minister has ordered all manufacturers and suppliers of plastic bags to strictly abide by the application of revised specifications and standards in production. Suppliers of carry bags also must adhere to the same specifications.
Al Shinasi noted, the battle against plastic bags has been announced to inspire the country's residents to completely discard the habit of plastic bags usage, and protect both human and animal life.
“The MOEW had launched a three-year long campaign titled "the UAE free of plastic bags" in October 2009, aimed at reducing the use of plastic carrier bags in the UAE, and a complete ban on using the bags from the year 2013,” she said.
According to earlier statistics released by the environment ministry, the UAE uses about one billion plastic carrier bags per year and the plastic material accounts for 10.9 per cent of the total amount of household waste in the country.
"About 8,000 tonnes of plastic film, used as the material to make bags and wrapping them, have been produced every month in the country," the ministry statistics revealed.
"A recent study has revealed that plastic bags cause death of 50 per cent of the deaths of camels in the UAE. 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," said AlShinasi.
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."

17 food outlets shut down in capital for violations

12 May 2010, The Gulf Today

Seventeen food outlets have been shut down by the authorities in Abu Dhabi during the current year for consistent non-compliance with food safety rules and regulations posing risks to public health.
The Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority (ADFCA) has ordered closure of the food service establishments in different parts of the emirate for repeatedly flouting the rules, even after warnings and fines were imposed on them.
"Of the 17 closures, 15 are in the city of Abu Dhabi and the rest in Al Gharbiya of the Western region," according to a senior ADFCA official.
"The outlets shut down in the city included eight restaurants, two refreshments outlets, two cafeterias, one supermarket, one grocery and one foodstuff firm, while the Western region saw the closure of one cafeteria and a foodstuff establishment," he disclosed.
Mohamed Jalal Al Reyaysa, PR and Communication Director at the ADFCA, said that Hatem Iranian Restaurant at Marina Mall was the last to face closure orders on May 6. Qasr Al Ain Cafeteria at Ghayathi in the Western region was closed in the month of January.
"The same outlet had been ordered to close last year too, and resumed its operation after undergoing penal actions, but in a short period of time inspectors found it repeating the food safety violations. The second food outlet to face closure orders in January was Saif Refreshments at Al Shamikha area," he explained.
Reyaysa said three restaurants, Al Eqab Restaurant and Hadeeqat Al Wahda Restaurant on Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Road and Al Kasir Restaurant on the Abu Dhabi Corniche Road, were shut down in February.
"Falcom Tib Supermarket and Najm Shiraz Grocery at Musaffa Industrial Area, Burj Al Arab Restaurant at Umm Nar area, Rabeea Restaurant on Zayed 1 Road and Farha Restaruant at Musaffah Economic Zone are the outlets that downed shutters in March," he added.
"The food establishments shut down in the month of April included Ramla Trading Company at Musaffah Economic Zone, National Company for Tourism and Hotels in Al Ruwais in the Western Region, Zahrat Al Samha Cafeteria at Al Samha, Dar Al Khair Refreshments at Umm Al Nar, Maharat Al Khaleej Cafeteria at Al Shamikha and Wahat Madina Al Marah Restaurant at Marina Mall," he detailed.
Reyaysa said, "The reasons for the closure of these outlets vary from one to another and include unhygienic practices, presence of insects and cockroaches in the kitchen, lack of proper drainage system, mixing different food items in the refrigerator such as meat, fish, vegetables and fruits, lack of proper garbage disposal, not possessing necessary papers from the authorities and so on."
According to Reyaysa, the closure of a food outlet is always preceded by repeated warnings, fines and awareness drives.
"When all those efforts fail, we are left with no other option but to order the closure of the outlet that functions in utter disregard for public health and the law of the land. The health and safety of the consumer is the red-line that should not be crossed in any circumstance," he noted.
"Each of these violations is fraught with potential danger to the health of the consumers. Once the closed outlets make amends and rectify the shortcomings, the reopening of the outlets can be considered," said Reyaysa.