Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Dubai's waste triples in 9 years

The Gulf Today, 27 Sept 2010

THERE Emirate of Dubai has generated a massive amount of 3,746,509 tonnes of waste in the year 2009, according to statistics revealed by the civic authorities on Sunday. In 2000, this figure stood at just 1,046,404 tonnes.
The phenomenal growth that Dubai is currently experiencing, has on the flip side, resulted in the heavy increase in the amount of waste being produced in the city, said Hussain Nasser Lootah, Director General of Dubai Municipality (DM).
“The amassing of solid municipal waste in the city increases at an average of almost 20 per cent annually,” he said.
Lootah also raised his worries on these issues, as pressure continues to mount on the city’s waste management mechanism. “The issues of daily waste collection as also its treatment through resource recovery or recycling and its safe disposal, constitute heavy municipal tasks,” he added.
Lootah was speaking on Sunday at a workshop for waste-to-energy project for qualified companies.
“Data gathering for the Al Warsan waste-to-energy plant and geotechnical investigation of the site has been completed,” he said.
“The plant to be located at the 30 hectare plot in Al Warsan will be designed to accommodate 6,500 tonnes of waste per day and the expected power that will be generated from the waste is estimated at 150 MW/h,” Rashed Karkain, Head of Technical Support and Studies Section in the DM’s Waste Management Department.
“The project, featuring the latest, state-of-the-art waste to energy conversion and pollution control technologies, is one of the key components of the integrated approach being set up by the municipality to tackle the waste management problem in the city,” he elaborated.
According to Karkain, the prequalification process of the project was conducted in the last quarter of 2009.
“It was participated by 29 groups of companies from all over the world. After a thorough review of the company’s submissions, only 14 selected to join in the bidding process of the project, in which 11 companies participated,” he added.
“The deadline for the submission of bids and proposal is Dec.19, 2010 and the selection of the winning bidder shall be made after a thorough evaluation of their submitted documents,” said the senior MD official.
“Joint venture with public and private participation could also be thought of,” said Karkain.
“The environment-friendly process of energy recovery through combustion of waste producing electricity is well known worldwide.”
“Many countries having best practices in modern and efficient waste management system have Waste-to-Energy (WTE) plants operating to stringent environmental controls. So, we decided to establish such a plant in Dubai,” he elaborated.

Diabetes drug Avandia recalled in UAE

The Gulf Today, 27 Sept 2010 

The UAE Ministry of Health (MoH) has recalled a widely-used medicine for diabetes mellitus Type 2 Avandia from the pharmacies and hospitals across the country.
The MoH issued a circular on Sunday recalling the drug, following guidelines from international competent bodies to ban the use of the medicine made with the component Rosiglitazone as it caused dangerous consequences like stroke and cardiac disorders.
The MoH sources said that the circular had been sent to private and public sector pharmaceutical establishments and hospitals in the country enforcing them to temporarily suspend the drug use.
All quantities of the drugs circulated in the country should be pulled off the shelves within four weeks from the date of the circular, according to a senior official.
Dr Amin Al Amiri, CEO for Medical Practices and Licensing at the MoH, indicated that the drug has been suspended as per recommendations of the European and American drug control bodies.
“The Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) on Saturday recommended limiting the use of medication after emergence of new information that the drug caused high risk of heart attacks and serious damage to blood vessels,” he added.
According to him, the pharmaceutical vigilance committee under the ministry would follow up the decision monitoring circulation of the medicine across the seven emirates, even during holidays.
“The MoH also temporarily suspended local production of Avandia using Rosiglitazone component. The registration or import of new batches of the drugs and their promotion or marketing have been cancelled,” pointed out Dr Amiri.
“The ministry is working on providing the diabetes patients with suitable alternative medications. The drugs control and registration department will monitor incidents of complications from the use of the replaced medication. The decision comes in order to preserve public health,” he added.
“There were warnings earlier on the impacts of the drugs on the cardiovascular system. The recommendations were issued by the global bodies after reviewing the studies on this matter,” he said.
“The suspended medicines included Avandia (2, 4 and 8mg tablets), Avandamet (1mg/500mg, 2mg/500mg, 4mg/500mg, 2mg/100mg, 4mg/100mg), and Avandaryl (4mg/1mg, 4mg/2mg, 4mg/4mg),” detailed health ministry.
According to Dr Amiri,  the FDA had asked to implement a special programme to monitor and control the risks arising from the use of the drugs.
“The MoH drug control department met on Sunday the  manufacturers and distributors of Avandia at the Cabinet Office in Abu Dhabi to immediately implement the new regulatory decision on the supply of the drug,” he said.
“Several steps are being undertaken, including stopping their supply immediately at the state level from the date of issuance of the circular on Sunday.”

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Work pressure puts men's heart at increased risk

26 Sept 2010, The Gulf Today 

MEN who work for long hours and have low physical activities face an increased mortality risk from heart disease, according to a health expert.
So, those who have stressful jobs involving long working hours should remain physically fit and follow a healthy diet regimen, advised specialist cardiologist at Dubai Hospital Dr Nooshin Bazargani.
According to her, almost half of those who die from chronic diseases such as heart disease and stroke are in the most productive period of their lives, between 15 and 69 years of age.
“Since this age profile spends a considerable amount of time at work, it is essential to teach people to inculcate healthy eating habits at work to minimise a person’s risk of cardiovascular disease,” she pointed out on the occasion of the World Heart Day that falls on Sunday.
To mark the day, in line with the global theme “workplace wellness,” Dubai Hospital and Rashid Hospital have planned to conduct various health awareness activities.
The World Heart Foundation (WHF), in its 10th edition of observing the World Heart Day, aims at promoting cardiovascular health within the workplace, as it’s proven that a healthy workforce is the backbone of every economy. The WHF raises the slogan “I work with my heart.”
Mentioning ways in which employees can develop positive working habits in a workplace environment, Dr Bazargani, said, “People should try and incorporate some form of physical activity during work.”
“They can use the stairs instead of the lift and in terms of diet they should find healthy options in the cafeteria and eat more of fruits and salads rather than fast foods and greasy food which are readily available nowadays,” she elaborated.
According to Dr Khalifa Omar Muhammed, specialist cardiologist at Rashid Hospital, employers should encourage a healthy workplace environment as it means an increase in productivity.
“Such environment also will lower medical costs for employers and employees as well as result in losing less working hours. Heart disease is preventable provided people follow a healthy lifestyle and avoid tobacco use,” he said.
Dr Mohammed warned that smokers are at a high risk of heart attacks and therefore if a person quits smoking. “Their risk of heart disease will be halved within a year.”
The world heart day programmes, under the patronage of the Dubai Health Authority (DHA), will educate people about the importance of regular check-ups, according to a spokesperson of the Authority.
“Cardiologists will be present during all awareness campaigns to provide consultation and advice to people on how to follow a lifestyle that is heart-friendly,” he added.
Dubai Hospital has already started a three-day cardiac health campaign at Deira City Centre, setting up a special booth offering free check-ups for blood pressure and sugar levels, body mass index and cholesterol. 
Dr Ahmed Ibrahim Kalban, CEO of Primary Healthcare at the DHA said that the awareness sessions will reach out to the public educating them to tackle lifestyle diseases and encouraging them to modify their dietary and exercise patters so that they are less susceptible to heart diseases.
“Eighty per cent of premature deaths are preventable if people follow a healthy diet, regular physical activity and avoid tobacco. The DHA also highlights the benefits of healthy eating habits in a work environment,” he added.
According to him, heart disease and stroke claim over 1.7 million lives every year and globally heart disease is a leading cause of mortality.
“The Rashid Hospital check-up drive happening on Sunday at the DHA headquarters, will be held on the following days at Dewa (Sept.27), Rashid Hospital Trauma Centre (Sept.28), and at PHC centres in Al Twar and Al Khawneej areas (Sept.29),” said the DHA spokesperson.
“The conclusion of the campaign will be held at Sonapur labour camp on Sept.30. The inmates will be given lectures and easy-to-follow information on how to maintain a healthy heart,” he added.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

RAK’s ‘ice land’ basks under the desert sun

25 Sept 2010, The Gulf Today

COLDWATER coral, unknown for centuries, was a close-kept Icelandic secret. For the island nation nestling in the North Atlantic, it has been a perennial question of survival. Scientists believe that global warming over the decades led to a transpolar Arctic drift and the change in sea temperatures led to a bleaching of the corals in Icelandic waters.
To replicate the beauty of coldwater corals, a new world of artificial cold water corals has been recreated from the waters of the Arabian Sea along the coast of Jazirat Al Hamra in Ras Al Khaimah.
What’s more, a clan of replica Penguins also survived the journey from the Arctic Zone to the Arabian Desert, to set up a new home at the Ice Land Water Park. The Ice Land Water Park boasts the world’s largest manmade waterfall and rain dance pool and sits plump in the middle of the Gulf desert.
Inspired by the phenomenon of the global warming, the water park has been architected as a new home for the penguins along the coastal waters of the Arabian Sea.
On an escapade to the snow-clad mountainous structures resembling Icelandic topography, you will meet hundreds of penguin warriors, always on alert, strategically positioned high on the mountains. They appear to be ready to defend their homeland from an enemy invasion from the seas.
Melting glaciers and tidal waters found their way to the low lands and the mountain stream is tamed into a Lazy River, wonderfully showcased at the extensively themed-park, which has been spread over an area of 110,000 square metres.
The Ice Land Water Park, which affords a panoramic view of the Al Hajar Mountains in the east and the Arabian Gulf in the north, is managed by Polo RAK Amusement, a joint venture between India’s Polo Amusement Group and RAK Properties PJSC and RAK Investment Authority.
Mohammed Sultan Al Qadi, Managing Director and CEO of RAK Properties PJSC, said, “The brilliant family entertainment destination, opening its doors to the public on Sept.29, is part of the 125-acre WOW RAK theme park and resort destination in the Emirate.”
“Families and theme-park enthusiasts from all over the UAE and the rest of the region have in store an excellent mix of traditional and unique water attractions and slides,” he added.
The Penguin Falls located at the entrance of the park becomes the world’s largest manmade waterfall, as it stands 120 feet tall and 540 feet wide with 100,000 gallons of water cascading down its contours each minute, says Balwant Singh, Managing Director of the Polo RAK Amusement and the master brain behind the project.
According to him, the enduring guest experiences at the park distinguish it from other such water park facilities around the world.
“The facility has been designed to accommodate over 12,500 guests daily, with more than 50 exhilarating water attractions and water slides,” he added.
“We will offer guest experiences with segmental appeal to tap a wider range of age, lifestyle and culture groups. The Kids Cove at the park is a dedicated place for toddlers, primarily because children and toddlers are often overlooked in facility planning of other water parks,” elaborated Singh.
Santosh Chawla, Joint Managing Director of the Polo RAK Amusement, said, the venue will host special parties, focusing on community gatherings such as celebration of national days for expatriate segments of all nationalities residing in the UAE.
“There is certainly something for everybody to enjoy and appreciate. Families or community groups can greatly indulge in a unique and wonderful festive ambience,” he added.
Chawla pointed out that the themed-park has been designed to be eco-friendly as it is equipped with two water recycling plants that will recycle water to be used for horticulture purposes.
“It’s equipped with a full set of in-house utilities, including 4 megawatt power generators, a water desalination plant capable of producing 525,000 gallons a day and water filtration systems to maintain the four million gallons of pool water, to ensure uninterrupted enjoyment to the visitors,” he added.
Singh, said, “The Penguin Bay, an interactive water play area, is the largest rain dance pool in the world measuring 30,000 sq feet and offering shaded discos, open discos, rain showers and the “Rock Hoppers Den,” a stage with acoustics and theatre lighting for pulsating performances. Rain dance and on-the-spot contests would be a regular feature of the Penguin Bay.”
“The Aqua Games at the facility is a regular-size soccer field with soft turf, shallow water and rain showers to offer a unique soccer experience. Meanwhile, at the manmade Coral Reef, enthusiasts can enjoy a real-life snorkeling experience complete with live fish,” he added.
“Other attractions include the spas and Jacuzzis amenity — the “Tundra Baths” with therapeutic powers of hydro massage; “Kids Cove” for toddlers, and a “Slide Zone” with 24 water slides emerging from five towers from heights of up to 110 feet,” Singh added.
(Pix by Nisham A. Manaf)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

More pesticides come under ministry scanner

20 Sept 2010, The Gulf Today

THE federal environment watchdog has further increased the number of pesticides from 190 to 220, for which analysis is now mandated.
The move has come about to ensure quality of fresh farm produce across the country and to protect residents from various health hazards associated with the use of lethal chemical contaminants.
The UAE Ministry of Environment and Water (MoEW) has plans to further raise the number to 400 pesticides during the coming period, according to sources.
A couple of weeks ago, the ministry had tightened its pesticide monitoring system by implementing stringent measures and doubling the number of pesticide products to be lab-tested, from 92 to 190 samples.
The ministry further raised the average number of the pesticide samples to be monitored, before being used on farms across the country, as part of its strategic plans to ensure the highest degree of food safety in the UAE, according to a senior MoEW official.
Dr Mariam Al Shinasi, executive director for technical affairs at the MoEW, said that a team of experts from the ministry is currently working on testing the pesticide residues on fresh vegetable and fruits produce.
“The team carries out the assessment programmes to analyse such chemicals by implementing global guidelines in this regard,” she added.
“The ministry’s regular analysis procedures have reported pesticide residues in many food products. The results prompted the authority to increase the number of pesticides to be analysed in laboratories,” she pointed out.
According to Dr Al Shinasi, the MoEW is currently working on implementing a national system to achieve integrated pesticide management and control of their circulation and use.
“The national scheme will be launched in accordance with the strategy for tighter control of pesticides use in fresh food items produced and supplied in the country. Further legislations and regulations are in the pipeline, intended to control pesticide use. These would stipulate strict conditions and criteria for registration, circulation and spraying of the pesticides,” she noted.
“The application of the regulations by trading or farming establishments will be ensured by supervision of the ministry, in tandem with local authorities concerned. The MoEW laboratories have been equipped with fully-integrated mechanisms to analyse the vegetables and fruits imported into the country as well as those produced locally,” elaborated Dr Al Shinasi.
“The Authority has been imposing several measures for the public health safety, bio-security and protection of the environment. Each consignment of vegetables and fruits have to undergo the MoEW monitoring procedures and obtain clearance certifications to state that they are free from harmful chemical residues, before reaching the market,” she said.
“The ministry prevents entry of any type of vegetables and fruits in the event they have been detected to be using dangerous pesticides which exceed globally permissible limits. In addition, such consignments with contaminated foods will be confiscated and destroyed in cooperation with the municipalities,” added the MoEW official.

‘Switch to modern irrigation and save water resources’

The Gulf Today, 19 Sept 2010 

THE federal environment authority requires those engaged in fodder plant farming to focus their attention on planting species, which are proven to be consuming less water and being able to bear up to the extremely dry local environment.
As the current agricultural irrigation methods are unsustainable and had a negative effect on the environment, the Ministry Environment and Water (MoEW) plans to enforce the new agricultural strategies that would alleviate the situation arising from the country’s water scarcity.
According to a senior ministry official, all farmers would be trained to adopt the modern agriculture and irrigation techniques, as the agricultural sector consumes the largest proportion of water in the country.
Abdulla Salem Janan, Executive Director for Agricultural and Animal Affairs at the MoEW, said that the fodder plant farmers would be provided with both methods and processes that have been successfully employed elsewhere, to replace their current patterns.
“The ministry has introduced a range of grass seeds, the cultivation of which has proved to be successful in rationalisation of water consumption. The initiative will help the UAE’s animal feed agricultural activities achieve food security through application of profitable and sustainable methods of farming for local consumption,” he added.
“The strategies are being implemented in tandem with the International Centre for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas (Icarda) to popularise farming of animal feed plants suitable to the local environment under modern agricultural systems.”
Dr Maryam Hassan Al Shenasi, Executive Director for Technical Affairs at MoEW, observed, “It’s time to replace traditional agricultural irrigation practices with new irrigation methods and efficient use of advanced techniques like solar energy to significantly reduce water use at farms across the country.”
“As the UAE has relatively weak groundwater reserves, it heavily relies on the desalination of sea water to meet the mass requirement of drinking water, she said.
“More water resources preserving programmes would be launched by the beginning of 2011, by enhancing the efficient energy-consuming vegetable production plans equipped with modern technologies for farming,” pointed out Dr Al Shenasi.
According to her, in 2008, the UAE consumed around 4.5 billion cubic metres of water from both the desalinated stock and underground reserves. The per capita water consumption in the region was at over 150 gallons a year in the same year.
“The UAE can only address its water scarcity and depletion issues and ensure the availability of quality and clean water through national level integrated strategies for environment conservation, protection of water resources of surface, groundwater and sea water and enhancing water security,” she added.
“The largest user of water in the UAE is the agricultural sector, where the water consumption is at 34 per cent. It’s followed by domestic and industrial sectors at 32 per cent, and forestry at 15 per cent, and landscaping at 11 per cent,” pointed out Dr Al Shenasi.
The emirate of Abu Dhabi had announced last month a five-year plan to save up to 40 per cent of water used for farming, by improving higher water efficiency in agricultural production.
According to the Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority (ADFCA), advanced irrigation methods will be introduced in the Emirate to achieve the goal. The first irrigation demonstration farm has already been launched in the Seih Al Kheir area of the capital.
Meanwhile, the environment ministry is currently preparing an advanced water data management system titled “Water Resources Information System (WRIS).”
“The WRIS would address the country’s wide range of issues related to water consumption, including irrigation, population growth and dependence on alternative water sources,” said Dr Mohamed Al-Mulla, Director of Water Resources at the MoEW.
“The WRIS would mainly address the most significant issue of the existing water resources in the country,” he pointed out.
The MoEW also called for implementing integrated national-level programmes to preserve water resources by reducing water depletion, rationalising consumption, and protecting ecosystems.
(Pix: Supplied)

UAE's largest eco-initiative in October

The Gulf Today, 16 Sept 2010

THE largest voluntary clean-up initiative by the UAE this year will flash the green message that communities care for nature, as the drive will be held in Dubai in the month of October, and is in line with environmental activities practiced by various cities around the globe.
The annual voluntary programme across the world raises environmental awareness in different communities through the active participation of people from all walks of life for preserving the cleanliness of the planet.
The global campaign has been organised every year by UNEP and Australian-based 'Clean Up the World Programme,' and is aimed at congregating volunteers for the massive environmental cause.
It focuses on attracting the attention of decision-makers and local and global communities on environmental threats to the earth, and inspiring them to develop sustainable waste management strategies.
Protecting environment
The Dubai Municipality (DM) is currently planning activities to launch the seventeenth edition of the "Clean-up the World 2010" campaign, which aims at protecting Dubai's environment.
A senior civic body official said that the volunteers including school and university students, employees from public and private sector establishments, NGO's, community groups and passionate individuals will join hands to clean up designated sites across Dubai.
Hassan Makki, director of the Waste Management Department at DM and head of the Clean-Up the World team, said that Dubai's worsening environmental challenges will be addressed by the programme.
"The activities of the drive will also disseminate the right environmental culture among the residents and visitors, as environmental problems have been contributing to the risks faced by the public health safety in the emirate at an alarming rate," he added.
According to him, the programme will line up a host of activities and awareness initiatives aimed at reducing waste and encouraging the public to reuse or recycle.
"Public workshops will be conducted on the sidelines and will be on topics like recycling and reducing waste, environmental painting, and making eco-friendly bags and usable materials from waste. Saplings will also be distributed to the public to encourage horticulture and its role in curbing climate change, and awareness publications will be distributed," elaborated Makki.
Ongoing effort
"The programme witnessed an overwhelming response over the past years, by achieving positive results in educating young people on the significance of maintaining a clean environment," said the event's general coordinator and the DM's Head of Administrative Support and Customers Section Hussain Ghulam Hussain.
"The clean-up drive developed environmental knowledge of the public by providing them with comprehensive concepts for eco-conservation, and enhancing their capability to become leaders of the future for volunteering for environmental causes," he added.
Hussain indicated, "Over 5,199 tonnes of waste were collected in last year's campaign by as many as 24,148 volunteers from several government and non-governmental organisations, community groups, schools and private firms."
Abdullah Al Ghafari, head of the Customer Services Unit in DM's Waste Management Department, said that the campaign has activities in store for all segments of the society to be involved in the country's largest eco-cause.
"There's a platform for all those who have the real spirit to achieve the noble objective of cleaning up their surrounding environment," he added.
According to him, sound and positive environmental practices and behaviours should be maintained individually for maintaining the long-term status of an enlightened society.
(Supplied Pic)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Ministry tightens pesticide monitoring system

The Gulf Today, 11 Sept 2010 

Further enforcing the measures for public safety and environmental protection, the UAE Ministry of Environment and Water (MOEW) has decided to strictly monitor the use of pesticides in the country.
The ministry has increased the number of pesticides to be analysed and lab-tested from 92 products to 190, by increasing the number of tests on different varieties of the pesticides used on vegetables and fruits, according to an MOEW spokesperson.
“The MOEW encourages farmers to engage in organic farming rather than the use of chemicals to keep the growth of pests from decaying vegetables and fruits.
Hydroponics, cultivation of plants in a nutrient solution rather than in the soil, is also encouraged by the ministry,” he added.
“The MOEW focuses on ensuring the quality of fresh farm produce, as well as streamline the flow of imported fruits and vegetables produce to ensure their safety for human consumption,” elaborated the MOEW official.
According to Dr Rashid Ahmad Bin Fahd, the Minister of Environment and Water, the move comes as the agricultural imports have been overwhelmingly increased through the UAE ports.
“The plans had been discussed with the representatives of the country’s wholesale fruits and vegetables traders to clarify the programmes and initiatives undertaken by the ministry,” he added.
“They were educated on the tightening of the control over the use of pesticides spraying on fresh importing produce, their role on safeguarding the health of the consumers and ensure the quality of the fruits and vegetables,” elaborated the minister.
“The ministry wanted to raise the rate of bio-security in the country, and protect the residents from various deadly diseases,” said Dr Fahd.
He urged the traders to comply with the new regulations on the import permits for pesticides, their samples should be strictly analysed by the inspectors.
Large quantities of prohibited pesticides had been confiscated from the Madam agricultural district of Sharjah, by the MOEW inspectors recently, during a surprise inspection visit to establishments in the business of agro products and food items.
Dr Mariam Al Shinasi, Acting Director General of the MOEW, said, “An integrated nation-wide system to control circulation and use of the pesticides in the country would update regulations and conditions and develop legislation for controlling such products with stringent criteria for their registration and circulation in the country.”
The MOEW had curbed curry leaf import from India last year as the ministry laboratory in Al Ain found high levels of harmful chemicals in sample leaves taken during routine inspections.

Dubai enforces hygiene conditions at building sites

The Gulf Today, 9 Sept 2010

The civic authorities in Dubai are stringently enforcing regulations on hygiene measures to be implemented at building construction and infrastructural project sites across the Emirate.
A circular has been issued by the buildings department of Dubai Municipality (DM) to all building consultancy offices, construction companies operating in the Emirate, to abide by the hygiene requirements of the civic body at their construction sites.
Khalid Mohammed Saleh, Director of Buildings Department at the DM, said that the decision to enforce the hygiene conditions at construction sites has been taken because of a concern over public health safety and the need to protect the surrounding environment.
"The streets, roads, pavements and squares should not be affected by the construction activities. Health of the workers as well as the public is a great concern," he added.
"The Municipality wanted to ensure provision of security requirements and safety of the workers and the residents living in such locations and surrounding areas," he noted.
According to Saleh, the move will also help preserve the beauty and cleanliness of the city by reducing all such practices that distort the overall view of the Emirate.
"The construction companies should regularly clean up their building projects or construction sites, storages of materials and the surrounding environment," he pointed out.
The DM circular also required the safe removal of remnants of all used material at such sites.

Inspection intensified at food outlets before Eid

The Gulf Today, 9 Sept 2010

ON the advent of Eid Al Fitr, the civic authorities in Dubai have intensified surveillance of various food production and selling establishments across the emirate.

Inspection visits are being carried out at the food production units and retail or wholesale outlets of all kinds of food products to ensure their safety for human consumption during the Eid celebration days, said a senior DM official.
The inspections concentrate on the establishments trading in food products, especially during the month of Ramadan, as there is increased demand for food during the Eid celebrations.
Sultan Ali Tahir, head of the animal products control section at the food control department of the DM, said, "The monitoring procedures are being conducted at establishments of confectionery, bakery and dairy products as well as fruits and vegetable markets, and supermarkets."
According to him, the inspection campaign will make sure the foods meet the health safety requirements of the Municipality.
"The inspectors are focusing on the types of food establishments, sweets and chocolate factories that supply the products in the Dubai emirate, which are having higher demands during the Eid time. The fruits and vegetables market and supermarkets also witness increased influx of consumers before the Eid," elaborated Tahir.
"Inspections at factories of bread, pastry and desserts is significant, as the demand for such products stand at the highest during the Eid holidays. Such items can easily be affected with fungus and their bulk production may cause them to rot if they are [stored unsafely]," he added.
"The management of such establishments should reduce the factors that lead to contamination of the food products due to fungus that spread in the air and their surfaces," he said.
"They should ensure that the foodstuff reach the consumer intact as it is the people's right to expect that the food they eat is safe and suitable for consumption," he added.
Tahir said that the safety of storage capacity, proper cleaning and safe transportation of the foods are the main conditions to be adhered by the manufactures of items to ensure the safety of the consumers' health.
"The dairy products are considered more vulnerable to damage if they are not stored with safe methods and in proper temperature, as the higher humidity and temperature can cause multiplication of microbes," he added.
"The inspection team monitor several offences including non-compliance with the hygiene rules, and validity of the workers health cards," he noted.
"Food-borne diseases and the damage results from it must be upsetting, but it may be fatal too. There are also many other outcomes that may result from eating unhealthy food or food that is unfit for consumption," he pointed out.
"Availability of prohibited food items or foods with harmful ingredients are also being checked by the inspectors. Such foods will be confiscated and destroyed immediately," he pointed out.
"Poor storage or display of the foodstuff, on which the sunlight falls directly or wrong practices by the workers in handling the food are also punishable offences," said Tahir.
The Ramadan food inspection campaign of the DM had shown that 4 per cent of food establishments in Dubai are non-compliant. At least 161 fines were issued to erring food establishments, and notices were issued to 78 firms that time.
(Pic used for illustrative purpose)

Gulf youth more susceptible to cardiac diseases

The Gulf Today, 21 Sept 2010

THE younger generation in the Middle East region is dangerously gripped by the fatal clutches of heart disease, when compared to youth in other parts of the world, according to a senior health official. 

Dr Wafaa Ayesh, director of the clinical nutrition department at Dubai Health Authority (DHA), said that the average age for Middle Eastern and UAE patients suffering from heart attacks is 10 years younger than that in many western countries. 

"The dominance of diabetes among the younger age group in the UAE has elevated the rates of cardiac disorders onto an alarming level of challenges," she added. 

While speaking at an awareness seminar conducted on Monday by the DHA on the occasion of World Heart Day 2010, Dr Ayesh pointed out that the alarming rates of diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure that prevail in this region are factors that lead to cardiovascular diseases. 

The three-day seminar conducted by the DHA will highlight this year's global heart day theme, "Workplace Wellness," promoting healthy habits and methods of maintaining them, while in a work environment. 

Quoting research results, the clinical nutrition expert stated, "It is a known fact that cardiovascular disease, which results in heart attacks, heart failure and strokes, is the leading cause of death globally, and the UAE is no different." 

"The irony is that these are mainly lifestyle diseases and lifestyle modification can significantly reduce the chances of developing a cardiovascular disease," she pointed out. 

"The reasons for cardiovascular diseases, besides physical inactivity, also lie with the region's existing dietary patterns, which include a high level of daily consumption of fat and carbohydrates," said Dr Ayesh. 

"Despite having such a huge number of diabetics in the country, a large percentage of people do not know of the link between the two diseases," she added. 

According to her, the public is still unaware of the damage to the heart that is caused by lifestyle diseases including diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure. 

She advised people to focus on the need of regular screenings: "Normally, all healthy adults, above the age of 40, should check their cholesterol level every six months." 

"But, the cholesterol should be monitored on a three-month basis if it's hereditary, as the patient's condition may be worse in such cases," she warned. 

"While the cholesterol level should be monitored once in three months, blood sugar and pressure may require to be monitored on a more regular basis as per the directions of the physician," she elaborated. 

"A yearly check-up should suffice for people below the age group of 40, with no hereditary factors at play and for those who do not have any of these conditions," added Dr Ayesh. 

"Apart from providing healthy and nutritious food to the community, proactive community initiatives such as these are a fundamental way to raise public awareness on managing health and wellbeing," she opined. 

Muna Al Shammar, head of the nutrition education unit in the clinical nutrition department at DHA, said, "This test is important because it reveals the actual physical age of a person's heart and thus is a good indication to find out the damage caused to the heart by unhealthy lifestyle choices." 

"The test provides us a scale to measure the amount of change which will need to be incorporated in a person's diet and lifestyle to ensure further damage is prevented," she added. 

"Several clinical dieticians from the hospitals and public healthcare clinics are involved in this seminar and workshop and the focus is to promote a suitable diet plan for patients with heart disease," said Samya Al Sayegh, head of development and follow up section in the clinical nutrition department at the DHA. 

"A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids and fibre will help reduce cholesterol levels," she added. 

The DHA's heart wellness programme, in cooperation with Al Ghurair Foods, highlighted a healthy and active lifestyle for the whole family. The clinical nutrition department at Rashid Hospital conducted all these tests for individuals at the workshop and conducted a test to check the age of an individual's heart. 

"On [Tuesday], visitors have the opportunity to get their body mass index, blood sugar and blood pressure tested by trained medical experts. Dieticians will also explain the food pyramid to visitors so that they can play their diet keeping in mind the required calorie count and nutrition," she explained. 

"[Moreover, an] in-depth workshop will be conducted on topics ranging from ways to examine the age of our heart, learning the importance of physical activity and how we can lose calories, learning about common food myths and facts, being aware about the benefits of Omega-3, the role of dietary fiber and most importantly, the ideal way of healthy cooking," elaborated Djamal Djouhri, CEO of Al Ghurair Foods. 

According to him, a healthier lifestyle for everyone should be the top most priority in the community.
(Pic: Supplied)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Ministry shuts down crusher in Fujairah

15 Sept 2010, The Gulf Today

The UAE Ministry of Environment and Water (MOEW) has temporarily suspended operations of a stone crusher unit in the Toyeen area of Fujairah, for not adhering to the environmental and public health safety regulations.
The crusher unit violated conditions for operating the machines, failed to take necessary measures to prevent emission of dust into the surrounding areas, while producing the stones, the MOEW sources confirmed.
The continuous emanation of dense dust had seriously polluted the environment around the site of the industrial unit, as a result of the lack of proper maintenance of the dust control system, said a spokesperson of the ministry.
“The crusher unit has breached the regulations four times during the period from July to early September, not controlling the dust emissions while crushing and transporting the produced stones,” he added.
“Owner of the industrial unit has been asked to close down its functioning for a period of seven days, within that the offences should be corrected by implementing effective dust emission control mechanism at the site,” he added.
“A team of inspectors from the technical section of the MOEW’s regional office in Masafi will give permission for resuming the operation, after reviewing the applied environmental protection methods,” elaborated an MOEW statement issued on Tuesday.
“The work of the quarry and crusher facilities and transfer of the products will be followed-up, monitoring regularly to confirm their compliance with the conditions for protection of the environment,” it read.
According to it, the regional MOEW office collects data from all quarry stations in the area, including the type of equipment used for production. The volume of daily production will also be checked.
“The MOEW has been taking stringent punitive actions against violating operators, to ensure the protection of the environment and reduce emissions from stone crushers.”
“The actions are being imposed on such establishments in collaboration with local environmental authorities and the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Labour to ensure the implementation of regulatory guidelines for the control of quarries and crushers,” said the statement.
The actions were imposed on the offenders, in accordance with the UAE Federal Law No.24/1999 and the regulations of Ministerial Council resolution No.20/2008 and the Ministerial Decree No.110 issued in February 2010.
Environmentalists say that quarries and cement factories pose serious environmental impact on the mountainous regions, which are being dug up to produce stones and building materials for the construction sector.
Dr Rashid Ahmad Bin Fahad, the Minister of Environment and Water had said that the ministry classified quarries into three categories — green, yellow and red.
“The quarried were classified in accordance with their adherence with safety and preventive systems aimed at reducing dust pollution,” he added.
“The red category quarries did'nt have dust control systems to reduce the dust pollution,” he pointed out.

Health ministry questions ‘painkiller use’ survey

15 Sept 2010, The Gulf Today

The federal health watchdog has questioned the authenticity of a recent global pharmaceutical survey which claimed that the UAE residents ranked highest among the users of painkillers in the world.
The study, carried out by market research establishment Synovate, revealed that 72 per cent of the UAE residents purchased painkillers in the first half of the current year.
A top official from the Ministry of Health (MoH) had exclusively told The Gulf Today in May that the authorities had not been communicated about the study that said most UAE residents depend on over-the-counter (OTC) medicines even for slight headaches, signs of cold or flu, or other minor ailments.
Dr Amin Al Amiri, Executive Director for Medical Practices and Licenses at the MoH, had ruled out that the current health conditions of the residents or the health policies of the UAE cannot be measured based on these kinds of surveys.
In reference to the same report published in a local Arabic daily a couple of days ago, the MoH on Tuesday called the research institution to discuss the procedures it used in implementing the study as well as the results, subjectivity and categories.
Dr Amiri clarified that all kinds of medicines, including herbals, reach the patients in the UAE after stringent monitoring procedures and with the approval of MoH’s higher committee for pharmaceutical vigilance.
“The health ministry ensures highest safety of all types of medicines, which are continuously monitored and checked against misuse,” he added.
According to him, the MoH supervises the consumption of medicines in cooperation with all local health authorities in the UAE as well as international drugs associations including the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) in the US and European and Australian Drugs Authorities.
The market study said the UK and Australia are also big purchasers of pain relief medications, at 62 and 61 per cent respectively, without doctor’s prescription, while the painkillers are least popular in Taiwan at only 10 per cent, followed by Hong Kong at 15 per cent, and Chile at 17 per cent.
Per-Henrik Karlsson, Dubai-based Business Development Director for Synovate in Central and Eastern Europe and the Middle East, had told The Gulf Today that being health-conscious is relatively new for many of the local and expatriate populations in the UAE.
“When medication is required, cough or cold medicines, at 40 per cent, and pain relievers at 38 per cent, were at the top of shopping lists of OTC medications bought by people globally in the last six months,” disclosed the study that covered almost 12,000 people from across 15 countries.
Meanwhile, Dr Amiri pointed out: “The UAE has implemented international regulations and guidelines for the permitted range of the OTC medicines available at supermarkets. The UAE National Committee for Bio-Equivalence has also finalised a list of OTC medications sold at supermarkets.”
(Image used for illustrative purpose only)