Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Dubai Municipality cracks whip on erring food firms

The Gulf Today, 31 Aug 2010

A range of fines have been imposed on 161 errant food establishments in various parts of Dubai by the civic body’s food safety inspectors during a recent food inspection drive.
The officers at the food control department of Dubai Municipality (DM) have also issued warnings to at least 78 food traders for violating food safety conditions, according to a senior DM official.
However, Sultan Ali Al Tahir, acting head of the Product Control Section at the DM, said that 94 per cent of the food traders were found to be complying with the hygiene requirements set out by the municipality, during the inspection visits carried out at 239 establishments.
“In the performance-based assessment, there were 57 establishments with “very good” status and 171 were ranked “good”. Only eight weak food outlets, four per cent of the total inspected, earned an average rating during the campaign,” he elaborated.
According to Tahir, the positive results show the achievement of the Municipality’s goal of ensuring health and food safety in the Emirate.
“The intensive monitoring of the foodstuff trading establishments focused on ensuring that the food products are safe and suitable for consumption,” he said.
“The inspection team also imposed fines on 35 violating foodstuff warehouses and issued 56 notices when they conducted 91 visits to such establishments. A total of 6 per cent of food warehouses were found to be not adhering to hygiene regulations, while 94 per cent have obtained good assessment rates,” detailed the product monitoring chief.
“The most common irregularities at the warehouses were lack of proper cleanliness, improper storage methods and capacity, accumulation of excess items, and less ventilation and light, and lack of health cards or expiry of the workers,” he said.
According to Tahir, the warehouses are the primary branch of the food establishments, and food safety in these establishments will have impact on most of the segments of society.
“Food-borne diseases and the damage resulted from it must be upsetting, but it may be fatal too. There are also many other outcomes that may result from eating unhealthy food that is unfit for consumption,” he pointed out.
“The food safety campaign also inspected cooperative stores and hypermarkets to ascertain their compliance with the hygiene requirements, focusing on products that are in great demand during the holy month,” said Tahir.
“The extent of their commitment to the conditions of storage, cleaning and application of personnel commitment to these requirements were checked,” he added.
“The DM had been working on the inspection procedures two weeks before the beginning of the Holy Month of Ramadan, by setting up a special task force that had a face-to-face session with numerous food traders. The campaign lasted for two weeks during the Ramadan,” elaborated Tahir.
(Photo used for illustrative purpose)

Saturday, August 28, 2010

MoH announces international doctors’ visit

The Gulf Today, 27 Aug 2010

A GROUP of international specialist doctors will visit various hospitals under the Ministry of Health (MoH) to conduct a variety of practical and academic programmes such as regular check-ups, consultations, seminars and practical sessions.
Beginning from the month of October, the programme will run until the end of the year, according to senior official at the ministry.
Nasser Khelifa Al Bodoor, director of external relations at the MoH and supervisor of the Visiting Doctors Programme, said that the past editions of the international experts visit contributed to the strategies of the ministry towards experiencing a global exposure of medical knowledge.
“The visiting doctors’ programme will facilitate the development of the capabilities and skills of the professionals under the MoH,” he added.
“The schedule of the doctors has been designed in coordination with the hospitals in different medical districts, to examine the critical cases that require specialised treatments which are presently not available in the hospitals,” noted Al Bodoor.
“At Al Qassimi Hospital in Sharjah, Dr Sprague Eustis, ophthalmic specialist from Ochsner Clinic in the US, and Dr Christopher Edwards, rheumatologist at London Bridge Hospital, will do consultations from Oct.9 to15. Dr Robert Hill, pediatric orthopaedist will be in the hospital from Oct.30 to Nov.5,” he elaborated.
During November, the MoH will also receive six doctors beginning with a visit of Dr Charles Faiman, endocrinologist and diabetes specialist in Cleveland Hospital, at Sheikh Khalifa Hospital in Ajman from Nov. 6-12. At the same time, Professor Wolfgang Arnold, ENT surgeon in Munich University Hospital, will visit the same hospital. Dr. Christopher Anderson, a urologist in London Bridge Hospital, will visit Saqr Hospital in Ras Al Khaimah from Nov. 20-26.
“From Nov.13 to 19, Sheikh Khalifa Hospital in Ajman will receive Dr Yasser Abou Rayyah, pediatric ophthalmologist in Moorfield Eye Hospital; Dr Philip Wicart, pediatric orthopaedist in Saint Vincent De-Paul Hospital, from Nov.20 to 26; and Dr James Pattison, nephrologist in London Bridge Hospital, from Nov.20 to 26 in Saqr Hospital at Ras Al Khaimah,” he added.
“By the end of the year, professor Mohammad Ghunnaim, urologist and kidney surgeon of Al Mansoora University Hospital, will visit Sheikh Khalifa Hospital in Ajman between Dec.11 and 17,” said Al Budoor.

Dubai Municipality scotches BlackBerry romours on new housing fees

The Gulf Today, 27 Aug 2010

The civic authorities in Dubai have dismissed smart-phone rumours about imposition of new set of fees on the shoulders of both citizens and expatriates residing in the Emirate.
A rumour was spreading via BlackBerry messages that Dubai Municipality (DM) had already enforced the fees on the citizens. This resulted in the toll-free number at the civic body’s call centre being rung up numerous times for clarification on the issue.
The news being circulated through the BlackBerry device on the enforcement of additional housing fees is absolutely fictitious, said a DM official statement issued on Thursday dismissing the gossip.
“However, the Municipality had launched an integrated e-transformation system in June to collect the housing fee along with Dubai Electricity and Water Authority’s (Dewa) monthly billing system,” clarified the Municipality.
Director of the DM’s Finance Department Arif Ahli had said that the centralised collection of all the charges under the unified e-system throughout the Emirate would prevent manipulation of the utility bills.
“Notices were sent to the tenants to pay the housing fees as a component of the Dewa bills. The system has been implemented by making the public fill up special forms designed for this purpose that were available on the DM web portal,” he added.
All the tenants of non-citizens in the Emirate have been paying housing fees since 1962.
Earlier, this housing fee was being collected by Dubai Economic Development Department (DEDD) at the time of the licence renewal, and as well as through the lease contracts of the Dubai Real Estate Department.
“The housing fees, accounted at five per cent of the rental value of a unit leased or owned by non-Emirati residents, are meant for providing them with the civic services,” confirmed the DM.
“The electronic system for the unified utility bill collection is aimed at guaranteeing quality of work and comprehensive coverage of all tenants throughout the Emirate.”
“The first phase of the project began in 2005 through the collection of fees by the newly registered contracts with the Dewa,” read the DM statement.
“During the second phase, the Municipality worked on the development of the system in coordination with the Dewa in the light of the study notes on the application of the system in the first phase,” it elaborated.
Ahli had earlier pointed out that if anybody fails to register with the new system, the tenant would be sent a final notice asking him to provide the required data during the month.
“In case of failure to respond, the tenant would be charged housing fees as per the rental index issued by the Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA),” he said.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Choices we make define our health

The Gulf Today, 26 Aug 2010

A nationwide awareness on lifestyle diseases and methods to control must be the top priority for healthcare planners, observed a panel of healthcare industry chiefs in light of a study carried out by Dubai Health Authority (DHA).
The DHA’s household health survey had unveiled alarming statistics on the present health conditions of the residents. The study gave insights into the catastrophic height of challenges currently faced by the people.
Among the adults in the emirate, 10 per cent are diabetic, with a prevalence rate at 16 per cent among citizens, and 8 per cent among expatriate communities, with a huge variation among the diabetics of different age groups.
A total of 8.1 per cent adults living in Dubai suffer from high blood pressure, which is more than eight times more common in nationals than among expatriates.
The prevalence of hypertension among citizens is at 22.26 per cent, while it is at 2.75 per cent among the expats.
About 13 per cent of the expat community in Dubai is in the clutches of a smoking habit, while only 8.62 per cent of the Emiratis smoke.
And when it comes to passive smoking, 15 per cent of the total population suffers from the danger that affects 16 per cent of the expats and 11.44 per cent of the Emiratis. People between 18 and 39 years are the highest smokers group.
A healthcare expert opined that the risk groups of lifestyle diseases must be identified and adequate measures should be implemented to tackle their health issues. Provision of early treatment must be undertaken.
Regarding the reasons of the various lifestyle diseases which are currently plaguing the country, Gulf Medical University and Hospital’s chief Thumbay Moideen said that the risks are not due to the migration trend continuing in the country. “The diseases arise out of incorrect nutrition, lack of physical activity and stress related factors,” he noted.
“Diabetes and hypertension develop due to the increasing affluence seen in the current society and compounded by improper nutrition and lack of physical activity,” pointed out Moideen.
Dr KP Hussain, managing director and CEO of Fathima Healthcare Group, said that most of the general public lack knowledge to lead a healthy lifestyle. The situation worsens with the social environment, which is related to work pressures and its associated risk factors and to the living conditions.
“Hypertension is the second common lifestyle disease in the UAE. Most of the high blood pressure sufferers in the country go undiagnosed, leading to serious complications in their conditions. So, the public should be conscious on how to achieve good health,” he added.
He said that the expatriates in the UAE staying away from their families back home are suffering from damages to their psychological and physical health.
According to Dr Nawab Shafi ul Mulk, chief of Global Hawk Telemedicine Services in Dubai, the ever-continuing migration trend is one of the reasons for increasing some lifestyle diseases.
“The South Asian immigrants are also having high prevalence rates of diabetes, due to their sedentary lifestyle, improper diet or unhealthy meal choice. Diabetes has emerged as the fifth leading cause of deaths among Asians and Americans,” he elaborated.
Dr Mulk observed that most of the smokers fail in their efforts to escape from the world of cigars, even if they really wish to quit the habit. “They should be provided with appropriate assistance, tools and education to support long-term smoking cessation,” he pointed out.
He also warned that chronic illnesses like lung cancer can take alarming proportions in future, as more young people and expatriates resort to smoking to alleviate their stress level.
Dr Azad Moopen, chairman of DM Healthcare Group, a chain of private healthcare facilities in the region, observed that lifestyle diseases, diabetes and hypertension in their severe conditions are more common among locals than expatriates. “It’s not because of hereditary or geographical factors as many used to attribute,” he said.
“Most of the expatriates working in the UAE are aged between 25 and 55 years. As the number of older members is very less among the population, the serious impact of lifestyle diseases among the expats is also very less,” pointed out Dr Moopen.
“Meanwhile,” he attributed the reason to higher prevalence of a smoking habit among the expats “to their higher levels of tension and pressures for survival in a foreign country, as well as the feeling of alienation.”
“The expatriates also prefer to continue the food habits of their home countries in the Gulf, which has its own styles and culinary habits matching the particular climatic conditions and geographical specialities. This also increases the chances of falling prey to numerous illnesses,” said Dr Moopen.
He called for organising integrated detection drives at labour camps, and bachelor accommodations, focusing on the areas where the lower-income strata are active.
(Photo used for illustrative purpose)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

20 Sharjah mosques receive blood donations in Ramadan

The Gulf Today, 16 Aug 2010

THOUSANDS of believers in Sharjah share great religious, social and humanitarian feelings during this Holy Month of Ramadan by contributing their blood to  the cause of saving the lives of hundreds of medically-disabled people across the UAE.
Blood collection sites have been set up at about 20 mosques across the emirate to attract numerous believers who congregate at the sacred place to offer Taraweeh prayer that is special at night during the Ramadan, said a senior health official.
The Ministry of Health (MoH) has signed an contract with the Islamic Affairs and Endowment Department in Sharjah for carrying out the social initiative aimed at generating more donated blood units at the Blood Transfusion and Research Centre in Sharjah.
Dr Amin Hussein Al Amiri, the executive director of for Medical Practices and Licensing at the MoH and the chairman of the National Blood Transfusion Committee, said that the fifth edition of the ministry’s blood donation drive was officially launched on Aug.11 at Al Baraa Bin Azeb Mosque.
“Curtain for the humanitarian intiative will fall down at Al Noor Mosque in Buhairah Corniche on Sep.9,” he added.
“The other mosques included in the campaign are located in Al Nabaa, Al Shahbaa, Al Saif, Al Khalidyia, Samnan, Al Soor, Maysloon, Al Jareena, Al Fisht, Abu Shagara and Al Shahbaa areas,” elaborated Dr Amiri.
According to him, the drive was launched in 2007, witnessing 247 units of blood were donated that year. The number of donated blood units increased to 1,219 in 2008, while it was 1,066 in the year 2009.
“Meanwhile, mobile blood donation campaigns have also been organised this year by the MoH in Dubai and Ajman emirates. Another blood donation car will join the fleet to extend the drive to other emirates,” he pointed out.
“This year,” Dr Amiri said, “the number of donations is expected to reach more than 2,000 blood units to meet the increased need of blood between 60 and 80 units due to expansion of services, increase in the number of hospitals in public and private sectors and increase in the number of road accidents.”

Dubai Airport medical centre treats 30,000 cases per year

The Gulf Today, 17 AUg 2010

THE medical centre at Dubai International Airport carries out more than 30,000 consultations per year, according to a senior official.
Dr Amer Al Zarooni, director of Airport Medical Centre, said that an average of 2,500 references have been received at the centre each month.
“The centre covers health treatments of people in the airport’s arrival and departure sections, cargo village, engineering department, office of the civil aviation authority, fire station, runways and construction areas,” he added.
“The services of the centre for the travelers and employees at the airport have included cardiac rehabilitation, pulmonary treatment and transfer of emergency cases to various hospitals for providing them medical and ambulatory care services,” Dr Al Zarooni pointed out.
He said, “More than 70 doctors and nurses equipped with the latest medical devices are present in buildings I and III of the Dubai International Airport.”
“The centre provides with vaccines for travelers and employees, monitors medical fitness of the airline staff and issues fitness certificates to them, as well as helps patient travelers to board and disembark from the plane by stretchers or wheelchairs,” he explained.
According to him, the centre is fully equipped to deal with any medical emergencies and has a rapid response plan to tackle emergency medical situations such as patients suffering from cardiac arrests, airplane accidents, etc.
The airport medical centre also organises health awareness campaigns for employees and passengers to prevent themselves from various diseases and infections. It also provides medical care to pilgrims during the Hajj season.
The medical requirements of public activities including air-show are also met at the centre,” he noted.
A high-ranking delegation from the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) had visited the airport clinic recently to inspect the facilities and services that the centre is providing particularly since Dubai Airport remains to be one of the busiest airports in the world.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Health ministry to increase labour medical check-up centres

The GulfToday, 22 Aug 2010

AFTER significant amendments in the UAE’s residency medical laws to relax workers on their health testing, the Ministry of Health (Mo H) has disclosed its plans to increase the number of labour medical check-up centres across the seven Emirates considering the requirements.
“The new residency medical testing centres will reassure that the amendments in the conditions are made to enhance the transparency in the system in favour of the foreign human resources as per global standards,” said the Minister for Health Dr Hanif Hassan.
The minister called to activate the labour medical check-up centres and use the latest technologies in light of the great progress and development around the world.
He assured that fee structure for all types of medical check-ups for the residence visa purpose will remain unchanged. No additional fees or increase will be imposed as per the latest procedures.
“The fees will continue to be Dhs.250 for issuing a fitness certificate that proves that the candidate is free from the communicable diseases such as AIDS, Hepatitis-B, tuberculosis, leprosy and syphilis,” said Dr Mahmoud Fikri, CEO of Health Policies at the MoH.
“A fee of Dhs200 will be charged for endorsement of health insurance from the private sector, Dhs50 will continue to be the fee for the medical examinations of domestic maids as well as for administering the first dose of immunisation against Hepatitis-B, while the second and third doses will be free,” he explained.
Dr Fikri noted that companies having more than 10 representative employees must pay Dhs500 for their local representatives for every three years, while the fee is Dhs.1,000 for expat representatives every year.
According to Dr Hanif Hassan, the laws will protect both citizens and expatriates from various infectious and communicable diseases.
He affirmed that the latest amendments will eliminate the gap due to the increasing strength of the foreign labour resources residing in the UAE.
“The amendments have been designed in accordance with the reports of global health organisations on the ways of spreading different diseases and their dangers to the whole community,” he added.
“The MoH is also planning to develop plans and systems that guarantee the highest degrees of accuracy and health safety,” Dr Hassan said.
“The UAE has to set up an integrated accurate system for the continuous development in tandem with the requirements of the existing multi-nationalities in the country,” he elaborated.

Doctor caught for selling sick-leave certificates

The Gulf Today, 23 Aug 2010

SELLING medical leave certificates to several people led a doctor to be blacklisted and his clinic to be closed down by the health authorities.
Three specialist medical practitioners were also suspended from their service temporarily by the Ministry of Health (MoH), for negligence and breaching conditions as per the medical licence, said a senior member of the ministry.
Dr Salem Al Darmaki, Acting Director General of the MoH, issued the decision to take punitive actions against the serious violators of the employment permit.
Dr Amin Hussein Al Amiri, Executive Director for Medical Practices and Licences, said that the illegal activity of issuing false sick certificates had been practised by the general practitioner upon receiving bribes from his customers, who used the documents to escape salary cuts from their companies.
“The errant doctor’s clinic has been shut down, along with cancellation of his work permit and the case has been referred to the public prosecutor after reviewing the investigation report of the MoH’s medical licensing committee,” added the acting chairman of the committee.
“The action against the doctor has been incited after a government department lodged a complaint about the doctor’s deed of issuing numerous false sick leave certificates for nominal fees,” said Dr Amiri.
“The doctor had confessed to allegations of practising the sale of employee sick leave certificates to several employees and workers for several weeks, in contravention with the ethics and manners of medical doctors,” he elaborated.
“In another incident,” Dr Amiri said, “a laser specialist has been temporarily suspended from service for breaching the MoH licence conditions at his clinic. The specialist will not be able to continue his job, until the formal investigation into the case is completed.”
He noted, “A dentist also has been suspended from his practice in a separate case that the MoH’s inspection department indicated that he is always unavailable in the health facility.”
“The last case of punitive action is against a specialist orthodontist. Several complaints have been filed against him for offending the working permit conditions of the health ministry. His activities negatively affected many patients at his clinic,” Dr Amiri pointed out.
According to him, the case has been postponed until the next hearing of the medical licensing committee for the medical specialist.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Ifthar with UAE Prime Minister

His Highness Shaikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, hosted an Ifthar gathering for the UAE media professionals on Aug 14, 2010 in Zabeel Palace.
Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai’s Crown Prince and Shaikh Maktoum Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, ministers and top officials were also present on the occasion.
The UAE media fraternity, along with international news agency heads, conveyed their greetings to Shaikh Mohammad on the occasion of the Holy Month of Ramadan.
Sheikh Mohammed discussed several political, media, economic and regional issues with the journalists. Focusing on the freedom of expression and constructive criticism, the Vice-President called media the mirror and voice of the UAE.
“No restriction has been imposed on news in the UAE,” he assured the media professionals.
Sheikh Mohammed affirmed that the concerned authorities in the UAE do not impose any restrictions on information or news about economic and financial issues.
"My directives to these authorities are clear and beyond any questioning as we rely on candour and transparency. We strongly believe that media is the mirror of the nation. It has a noble message to disseminate and to enlighten the public, away from exaggeration, bias and distortion of facts. The sun cannot be blocked by a sieve," he added.
The media corps paid tribute to Sheikh Mohammed for his support, considering his encouragement and follow-ups as a big catalyst to them to exert more creative efforts
to enhance the local and regional media scene.
The journalists also praised the numerous initiatives by Sheikh Mohammed to provide a wider space for freedom and transparency in dealing with the local, regional and international media.

UAE amends residency medical laws

According to the new MoH ruling, blood-borne diseases like Hepatitis B and tuberculosis will no longer be deportable offences.

The Gulf Today, 20 Aug 2010

Flashing rays of hope for thousands of job seekers, the UAE authorities have announced a set of significant amendments in the federal rule on medical fitness tests required for issuing residence visas to expatriates.
According to the new ruling, blood-borne diseases like Hepatitis B and tuberculosis will no longer be deportable offences, as the resident expatriates don’t have to undergo tests for them while renewing their residence visas.
However, a specific date for implementing the new federal decision has not yet been confirmed by the Ministry of Health (MoH), sources of which said the ruling would come into effect from the next day of it being published in the official gazette.
While addressing the media in Dubai on Thursday, the UAE Minister of Health Dr Hanif Hassan said that the mandatory test for Hepatitis-B detection has been limited for only six categories of workers, while they apply for new residence visas, or renewal of their existing permits.
“The workers will not be deported from the country, if the tests confirm they are disease positive. Instead, the health authorities will give them treatment,” he added.
“The working groups include nannies, housemaids, barbers or beauticians and health club technicians, foodstuff handlers, eatery employees, and nursery or kindergarten supervisors,” elaborated Dr Mahmoud Fikri, CEO of Health Policies at the MoH.
“New residence or labour permits or renewals shall not be granted to the positive cases in these categories,” he added.
“However, vaccination for the Hepatitis-B is must for those who are tested negative among these categories, who should take three doses of preventive vaccines,” noted Dr Fikri.
“They will be issued a vaccination certificate, which has to be produced at the time of the visa renewal to exempt them from further vaccinations. In the events of being unable to show the certificate, the vaccination will be repeated charging an additional fee of Dhs500,” he pointed out.
According to him, the mandatory test for Hepatitis-C has been cancelled, as the liver disease usually transmits through infected blood.
“Mandatory tests for tuberculosis and leprosy have also been limited to the active or old pulmonary (chest) tuberculosis, for which the new arrivals only have to undergo the examination. At the time of renewal, the residency visa is not permitted to leprosy positive cases,” pointed out Dr Fikri.
“The check-up for syphilis also will be carried out only on the above mentioned six categories, while they apply for new visas or residency renewal. Treatment must be provided to all positive cases before obtaining the health certificate,” he added.
“For AIDS,” the official said, “Tests are compulsory for all, both while applying for the first time residency and at the time of renewal.”
“All maids, nannies and female drivers must have to undergo pregnancy tests before issuing the certificate of diseases that pose threat to the public health,” said Dr Fikri.
“In case of positive pregnancy, the sponsor has to decide whether to retain the services of the candidate or not. If the sponsor refuses the candidate, a written consent has to be submitted to the authorities with the test result,” he explained.
Dr Hanif Hassan said that the modifications have been made in five provisions of the Cabinet Decision No.7/2008 on the medical checkup procedures to obtain labour and residence permits for the expatriates.
“However,” the health minister assured that “no additional fees or increase will be imposed as per the latest procedures on various medical check-ups. Articles two, three, four, five and 10 of the rule have been replaced.”
(Photo used for illustrative purpose only)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Healthcare for low-pay group

The Gulf Today, 19 Aug 2010

A recent study by the Dubai Health Authority disclosed that 75 per cent of the low-income expatriates in Dubai lacked coverage of health insurance.
Almost three-quarters of Asian and Arab expats living in the emirate suffer due to the non-coverage of health insurance schemes, revealed the Dubai Household Health Survey.
A panel of healthcare industry leaders based in Dubai discusses the shocking observation of the survey that many expatriates do not seek treatment on time and neglect their conditions due to the higher healthcare costs.
They criticised the negative attitude of many establishments on provision of health coverage to employees and their families, even though the health insurance schemes are much cheaper than in the US or Europe.
“The economic reality of the employees should be considered by the employer and the government,” the experts opined.
A huge disparity is obvious between the low and high-income groups in enjoying the benefits of quality and transparent healthcare services in Dubai.
“The question of unaffordability of healthcare by people in the lower socio-economic strata has to be answered by refining the general assumption on healthcare provision to different brackets of the people,” said Dr Azad Moopen, chairman of DM Healthcare in Dubai.
“The discrimination is, basically, not because of the unavailability of the healthcare. It turned out like this due to the ignorance of corporate groups or companies on the wellness of their workers,” he pointed out.
The emirate of Abu Dhabi has a mandatory health insurance programme for all companies’ employees and their families.
Dr Nawab Shafi ul Mulk, chief of Global Hawk Telemedicine Services in Dubai, pointed out that Dubai has yet to enforce the laws that make it compulsory for all workers to have a health cover.
“The emirate had planned to introduce universal health coverage in January 2009, requiring every employer to pay a set fee to the government for each employee,” he said.
“This money would have been used to provide employees with ‘free access to basic health care.’ However, this scheme has yet to be introduced.”
Thumbay Moideen, founder president of Gulf Medical University and Hospital, the first private teaching hospital in the UAE, said that the healthcare sector required a massive change in the outlook of planning to cater to the needs of the low-income groups.
“All the hospitals and clinics should subsidise the prices to cater to the masses. The healthcare service providers play a major role in alleviating the worries faced by the low-income group,” he added.
Dr KP Hussain, Managing Director and CEO of Fathima Healthcare Group, pointed out that most of the corporate groups in Dubai provide medical insurance to only employees in the managerial level.
“Less-paid staff members are not given any support by the employers, while budgeting plans of corporate firms allot annual insurance premium of Dhs2,000 to Dhs3,000 per staff in the managerial level,” he said.
Dr Moopen pointed out that it’s the responsibility of the employer to cover decent basic healthcare, except luxury treatments like cosmetic procedures.
“Each employer already has to invest around Dhs10,000 on each employee’s visa costs. Adding an additional Dhs1,000 on their insurance coverage is not a big deal at all,” he noted.
According to him, a statutory requirement should be enforced on employers on providing workers with the health insurance coverage.
Dr Mulk suggested introduction of models for social health insurance coverage programmes, funded by both the government and the employers. “Such programmes can ensure privileges of all sorts of basic health treatments to the people from the low-income bracket and their dependants,” he added.
“The laws should come into effect as soon as possible as it will facilitate the suffering people as the medical costs are higher,” he said.
Dr Hussain elaborated, “Ten years before, many insurance companies were providing medical services to corporate establishments with high premium for their white collar employees. And blue collar workers were neglected due to the high cost of premium which the establishments had to pay. Hence, the lower and middle income group could not get medical coverage.”
“Many people of lower income earners were suffering from chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes and cardiac disorders. For treating the diseases they needed a minimum Dhs400 to 500 per month,” added the medical insurance expert.
“This scenario gave birth to the concept of providing cost-effective and comprehensive medical services for the lower and middle income groups, so they could avail the services throughout the year by paying a small premium to the insurance companies,” he noted.

11,000 food samples go under Municipality scanner in H1

The Gulf Today, 19 Aug 2010

THE food and environment laboratory in Dubai has carried out analysis on 10,989 samples of food items during the first half of the current year, according to the statistics revealed by sources at Dubai Municipality (DM).
The specialist lab under the department of the Dubai Central Laboratory (DCL) had collected these number of food samples to confirm their suitability for human consumption.
According to the half-yearly report of the lab, about 7,391 food samples have been received for quality control and food safety, while 333 food samples were taken for review and study purposes.
“At least 1,292 food samples were received from private sector, while it’s 1,152 samples from the civic departments. The lab also collected 821 environmental samples from the private sector,” said the report.
It disclosed that the lab also conducted 77,373 chemical, radiological and microbiological tests on food and environmental samples during the six-month period of 2010. Among them, 64,156 were tests on food samples and 13,217 were tests on environmental samples.
“At least 123 samples also have been analysed at the lab for environmental monitoring purpose, while 600 tests were conducted on wastewater from industrial waste as well as sea water samples,” it elaborated.
A spokesperson of the Municipality said that a series of research and development studies have been carried out by the food and environment lab section aimed at increasing the efficiency of the labs and meeting the requirements of the beneficiaries.
“So far, 13 developmental studies have been conducted in regard to chemical analysis, while three other researches have been completed in the field of environment,” he added.
According to him, the food and environment lab will examine the proportion of alcohol in samples of chocolate in coordination with the Emirates Authority for Standardisation (EAS).
“The section has also activated its e-services and the customers have been trained to use the new system,” noted the official.
The DCL has been the European Commission’s reference lab in the UAE to examine samples of camel milk imported into the European countries in coordination with the UAE Ministry of Environment and Water (MoEW).
(Photo used for illustrative purpose)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Masafi Hospital set to launch 2nd phase

The Gulf Today, 18 Aug 2010

THE recently opened Masafi Hospital will soon launch its second phase of functioning by introducing more services for in-patients and adding various departments to the hospital, a senior health official said. The hospital currently has operations for out-patients only.
Dr Mohammed Abdulla Saeed, director of Fujairah Medical District, said that the number of outpatients who visited the hospital since its opening in July has reached 546. “The hospital has received 482 patients in the general section, 20 people sought treatment at orthopaedics department and 44 patients visited the hospital’s ENT section,” he added. “The second phase of enhancing services at the hospital includes emergency unit, internal medicine, ophthalmology, gynaecology, surgery, paediatrics and physical therapy section,” Dr Saeed pointed out.
“A number of specialist doctors, including a general practitioner, ENT specialist, gynaecologist, dentist, paediatrician, internal medicine specialist and three orthopaedic specialists along with 15 nurses, and 10 x-ray and laboratory technicians have also been appointed at the hospital,” he elaborated.

Close eye on shisha cafes; 600 inspected in Dubai

The Gulf Today, 18 Aug 2010

Around 600 Shisha cafes across Dubai have been visited by the public health and safety officials of Dubai Municipality (DM) before the arrival of the Holy Month of Ramadan.
The inspections were carried out as part of the civic body's strategies to check the validity of such establishments' licenses and to ensure that they comply with the civic regulations on public health safety and hygiene requirements, a senior DM official said.
Redha Salman, Director of Public Health and Safety at the DM, indicated that the hygiene conditions in Shisha cafes especially the preparation area, sufficiency of ventilation and air conditioning, health cards of workers, and their uniforms, were on the agenda of the inspection campaign.
"The cafes should be operated only on ground floors, except in hotels. No Shisha cafes will be permitted to operate in classified residential areas. The shops should be set up in a minimum area of 1,500 square feet." he pointed out.
"Shisha cafes should also be 25 metres away from the entrances of buildings. At least 200 metre distance should be maintained from mosques, schools and other educational institutions," elaborated Salman.
According to him, the shisha shops should be licensed by the Department of Economic Development (DED) in addition to the permit from the public health department.
He said, "The cafe doors should be closed always, except for entry and exit of customers. Safety requirements including measures for prevention of inflammable materials like fire extinguishers should be installed at the shops. Emergency exit also should be provided to use in the events of causalities."
As per the regulations, the cafes should set up interior arrangements such as proper ventilation system that will help the public avoid exposure to passive smoking. Food serving and preparation areas should be also separated from the smoking area.
"The shop owners should also fix a message board at the entrance of the cafŽ, warning people under the age of 20 years not to use the facilities," noted Salman.
He urged owners of Shisha establishments to adhere to the rules and regulations in order to protect public health, thereby avoiding any legal proceedings to be initiated by the Municipality against the violators.
Two years ago, the DM had issued final orders to the owners of all Shisha centres operating in Dubai to relocate their premises to non-residential areas, promoting a smoke-free environment for the residents at restaurants and cafes.
Owners of coffee shops and restaurants were also subjected to stop the service of providing Shisha-smoking facility at their shops.
"The violating shisha outlets can be fined in the range of Dh5,000 to Dh40,000 as per the level of violations," said the Municipality.
(Photo used for illustrative purpose)

Friday, August 13, 2010

Dubai sets up green lab

The Gulf Today, 13 Aug 2010

A specialised green laboratory has been set up in Dubai to carry out tests on green building materials and products, as all the new buildings in the Emirate have to comply with the civic body’s green building regulations.
The lab will facilitate application of the requirements and specifications for the green building regulation, which will soon be issued by Dubai Municipality (DM) as the strategy will significantly contribute to environment conservation and reduction of energy consumption in the Emirate.
Hawa Abdullah Bastaki, Director of Dubai Central Laboratory Department (DCLD), has said that a guide outlining an inventory of all green building materials and products has been prepared.
“The user’s guide includes the contact details of suppliers and manufacturers of the green materials. Another guide also will be issued with the names of laboratories for testing these materials,” she added.
“The laboratory has been designed with the global standards, advanced technologies and specialised devices, aimed at facilitating testing services for the manufacturers of green building materials,” noted Bastaki.
According to her, the analysis procedures at the green lab will ensure accuracy and quality of tests as well as the activation of the monitoring role of the central lab.
“The civic body’s engineering materials laboratory has been conducting many physical and mechanical tests on building materials such as concrete, steel, tiles, cement, mortar products, thermal insulation products, humidity insulation products, polystyrene, fly ash, fibreglass bars, plastic pipes, rock wool and glass wool,” she elaborated.
“Such materials are used in civil construction, buildings and construction of roads in accordance with international standards and specifications adopted in this area,” Bastaki added.
“These laboratories also implement monitoring programmes and quality control on materials of roads and bridges by conducting physical and mechanical tests on asphalt mix, rubble, pavement base and under the foundation,” she pointed out.
“Tests have been conducted on 49,157 samples so far, while the number of reports issued was 39,000 within the period referred to,” Bastaki disclosed.
“The procedures will increase customer confidence in the accuracy of the results and give credibility to the products that have been tested.
It has obtained the approval for more than 52 tests in accordance with the international standard ISO17025 specification which facilitates the export and acceptance of these products globally,” she elaborated. According to her, the engineering materials lab has plans to launch new services of analysis related to safety and health of the consumer.
“The range includes testing on paints, mortars, and checking the quality of tyres as well as introducing new tests for asphalt mixes, such as for distortion and cracking,” said Bastaki.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Caution over Mamzar lagoon slipway

The Gulf Today, 2 Aug 2010

The civic body in Dubai has instructed marine passengers to Mamzar lagoon to be extra vigilant about the possibilities of life-threatening dangers while using the slipway or boat slip to the area.
In order to avoid disasters in the sensitive spot, the Dubai Municipality (DM) has strictly prohibited the visitors from exceeding the floating 'No Entry' signs and entering the Mamzar lagoon, according to a senior civic official.
The number of water sports freaks, leisure visitors and tourists thronging the area significantly increases in summer, as they come here to escape the soaring temperatures.
The Municipality has already issued a set of safety measures and called upon all the visitors to take additional personal care and abide by the specified requirements, while venturing into sea water in the area.
Alia Al Harmoudi, the head of the Coastal Zone and Waterways Management Section at the Environment Department of the DM, said the public should use the slipway only as an access to the sea.
“Roaming around in the Mamzar Creek is prohibited. Professional fishing boats are also not allowed to use the slipway,” she added.
"People should also maintain the speed limit in this area not exceeding 5 knots. The parking lot adjacent to the slipway is allocated for parking trailers only on a temporarily basis and using it to park the boat is prohibited," she pointed out.
“The offenders to the municipal regulations will face stringent punitive actions like imposing of hefty fines and other legal measures,” warned Al Harmoudi.
She urged the public to co-operate with the municipality and to adhere to the instructions for their own safety.
“The Al Mamzar slipway had been closed for several years due to a number of abuses committed by the users of jet skis and the boat owners. The municipality re-opened the point for the public later, after setting up certain conditions that govern the use of the slipway,” she elaborated. 
“As the Al Mamzar slipway is a major tourist facility that supports leisure activities, tourism and water sports. Owners of yachts and boats are supposed to ride their boats for recreation and sports only,” she pointed out.
According to Al Harmoudi, all the roads and streets leading to the slipway in Al Mamzar carry the signs.
She said, “Two sign boards could be found upon reaching the slipway prohibiting its use.”
“This had created a lot of confusion to the visitors prior to the recent announcement of the municipality on the opening of the slipway and allowing the owners of the marine vehicles to use it,” she added.
Al Harmoudi noted that there are only two slipways in Deira side, one in Al Mamzar and the other in Al Hamriya port.
“The latter being meant exclusively for commercial fishing boats,” she pointed out.
“Prior to the municipality announcement of allowing the public to use the slipway at Mamzar, a large number of practitioners of marine sports and residents in the area of Deira had to travel a long distance to reach Jumeirah or Umm Suqeim,” she elaborated.
In the beginning of the summer season, the Dubai Municipality warns all the beach-goers to be cautious about the heat stress and its symptoms.
During this time of the year, the authorities warn the beachgoers to take extra caution while venturing into sea, as drowning incidents increases significantly.

UAE hosts WHO’s global injection safety network meet

The Gulf Today, 3 Aug 2010

The UAE has extended its support to the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) war against deadly diseases which are transmitted through unsafe injection practices in poor and developing countries.
The WHO’s eleventh global network for injection safety programme will be staged in November to take significant steps towards preventing lethal diseases transmitted through contaminated syringes in developed countries, a senior health official said.
The global network for injection safety is working regularly on providing the necessary precautions for the member states as well as the methods of injections safety especially in healthcare facilities.
Dr Amin Al Amiri, Executive Director for Medical Practices and Licenses at the Ministry of Health (MoH), said, “The initiative is aimed at facilitating such countries to protect their communities from viral diseases due to multi-usage of injection equipments. The initiative will contribute 50 per cent to the cost of providing safe syringes.”
“Charity will be raised to reduce such adverse health impacts through purchase of single use syringes in large quantities with competitive prices to be distributed worldwide,” he added.
“Health experts from 120 countries will participate in the WHO conference that will announce plans to provide financial support given to the region’s countries to use single syringes,” Dr Al Amiri said.
“Mechanisms will be developed to support safe use of injections under the supervision of the UAE. Global medicine and pharmaceutical establishments, banks, airlines and real estate firms [will be encouraged to lend support] for the region’s countries to pay 50 per cent of the injections’ values,” he elaborated.
“The prices of single used injections are equivalent to five times the prices of reusable injections. Under the UAE’s initiative, it will be possible to manufacture large quantities of these injections in the UAE with better prices, Dr Al AMiri pointed out.
Dr Selma Khamassi, Injection Safety and Related Infection Control Officer at the Secretariat of the WHO Headquarters in Geneva, said that the injection safety programme components included patient safety, health care providers' safety and the safety of the community.
“There are three major areas of concerns over the safety of injections worldwide, including reuse of equipment, unsafe collection and unsafe disposal. The adverse dangers associated with the unsafe injections are transmission of blood-borne pathogens like Hepatitis B and C, HIV or AIDS and hemorrhagic fever viruses,” she added.
Khamassi explained, “Up to 70 per cent of injections are unnecessary in some countries. About 21 million Hepatitis B infections are reported annually from unsafe injection practices, with 30 per cent new cases, two million Hepatitis C infections, 41 of them are new cases, and 260 000 HIV/AIDS infections, with 5 per cent of new cases.”
“About 16 billion needle injections, 40 per cent of which are with reused syringes, are administered on people in developing countries. The vast majority, estimated at 95 per cent, of these injections are used for curative care. Meanwhile, three per cent of the injections are vaccinations, and the remaining per cent is for blood transfusion purposes,” said the WHO statistics.
According to it, unsafe injections occur yearly in about 1.3 million death cases and cost an annual burden of 535 US million dollars in medical costs.
“Contaminated injections cause infections to 21.7 million people each year in developing countries. Estimated at 33 per cent, seven million people are died due to Hepatitis-B infection from contaminated syringes, and around two million people die from infection of Hepatitis-C annually,” indicated the WHO reports.
The transmission of HIV or AIDS virus through unsafe injections is two per cent, especially in South Asia.
The WHO is updating information on the best practices of safety injections and waste disposals, protection of health workers and infection control in all its forms.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Environment ministry warns erring vets

The Gulf Today, 1 Aug 2010

The UAE authorities are putting solid measures governing the practice of veterinary medicine in the UAE.
This move has been initiated as several vet clinics were found to be engaged in malpractices and were found to employ unlicensed veterinarians and non-specialists to work in their laboratories.
The Ministry of Environment and Water (MoEW) will further enforce the regulations in this regard on the 500 veterinary practitioners and technicians currently working in the country, according to a senior ministry official.
Mohammad Hassan Shamsi, Director of Livestock Development Department at the MoEW, said, "A total of 92 registered veterinary health facilities are currently operational across the country, carrying out therapeutic and diagnostic treatments for animals, including immunisation of animals and birds against infectious diseases."
"About 200 veterinary establishments, such as pharmaceutical firms and warehouses are also functioning in the country," he added.
Shamsi pointed out that the federal law No.10/ 2002 on veterinary practice strictly controls unlicensed vet professionals to employ veterinarians in such facilities.
"The candidates aspiring to practice as veterinary doctors should have a bachelor's degree in veterinary medicine and surgery from an internationally-approved university. They also should obtain a licence from the MoEW after undergoing eligibility tests," he elaborated.
"Expatriate candidates should have veterinary practising experience for a period of not less than five years to work as an independent veterinarian, while the experience criterion for Emiratis is two years," he noted.
Also, according to him, the ministry should be notified about the facility a vet works at. The vets also are not permitted to work in more than one clinic at the same time.
"If any animal is suspected of being infected with contagious disease, the veterinarian should immediately report the case to the ministry or concerned local authorities in the particular emirate," he pointed out.
"Necessary preventive measures should be taken within 24 hours, and the place and address of the animal's owner must be verified," added Shamsi.
"The veterinary doctor will be subject to legal action if he is found to cause any damage to an animal arising out of an error or technical inaccuracies in diagnosis and prescription of appropriate treatment," he added.
(Image used for illustrative purpose)