Saturday, October 30, 2010

Changing Diabetes Bus to test 7,500 in UAE

The Gulf Today, 29 Oct 2010

The global awareness initiative "Changing Diabetes Bus" will reach in Sharjah on Nov.6 and will carry out about 7,500 early diabetes screening tests as it tours across three emirates of the UAE.
The diabetes education vehicle's world tour arrives in the emirates, after covering five continents to enhance the role of the World Health Organisation (WHO) in protecting the society from diabetes, according to a senior official at the Ministry of Health (MoH).
Traversed 31 nations
Dr Mahmood Fikri, Executive Director for Health Policies at the MoH, said that the worldwide diabetes management awareness initiative by health major Novo Nordisk is aimed at creating awareness on the social, humanitarian and economic consequences of the lifestyle disease.
"The changing diabetes bus had received a total of 260,000 visitors, out of which about 127,000 people made the early diabetes screening in 31 countries all over the globe," he added.
"The first round of the tour in the Gulf region begins in the UAE, with the bus conducting 2,500 free diabetes tests each in the emirates of Sharjah, Dubai and Abu Dhabi," indicated the chairman of the ministry's national diabetes committee.
Bus's UAE itinerary
The bus has been scheduled to station in Sharjah between Nov.6 and 19, in Dubai from Nov.23 to Dec.6, and in Abu Dhabi from Dec.20 to Jan.4," elaborated Dr Fikri.
He noted, "Focusing on social awareness about the early screening for diabetes, the bus will carry out tests for manifold complications due to the diabetes such as visual risks, glycerin levels, body mass and blood pressure."
"However, no tests will be carried out on adolescents under the age of 18 years, according to the contract with the UAE's ethics committee for health researches," he pointed out.
"The MoH will assign five nurses and doctors to work with the diabetes bus and exchange its shifts from 5pm till 11pm in weekdays. The tests will include blood pressure, BMI, HBA1c, waist and hip circumference, cholesterol to diagnose the disease, determine its dangers and complications," Dr Fikri elaborated.
He said, "The visitors will be distributed with educational materials on healthy lifestyle, significance of physical activities, dangers of smoking and other information that would prevent the dangers of diabetes."
"The changing diabetes bus was unveiled by the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) in Copenhagen in 2006. The tour selected the blue circle color as a theme for the world diabetes days. A medical fully equipped car is escorting the tour in all the places.
According to Novo Nordisk, the tour has called for global change in diabetes prevention and care and played an integral role in the adoption and implementation of the United Nations Resolution on diabetes.
“The tour targets the broader public, patients, healthcare professionals and decision makers to detect, treat and stabilise the disease before it progresses into irreversible complications,” it said patron of the bus.
“A total of 285 million people worldwide are estimated to have diabetes, many of which are unaware of their condition, which can only be rectified by improving the quality of life for people with diabetes,” revealed Novo Nordisk.
(Pic used for illustrative purpose)

Trash skimmers to clean up Dubai’s water channels

The Gulf Today, 29 Oct 2010

DUBAI Municipality (DM) has launched two trash skimmers, a type of vessels used for cleaning up water channels, at Dubai Creek on Wednesday on the sidelines of the country’s largest voluntary clean-up drive “Clean-up the World 2010.
Hassan Makki, director of waste management department at the DM, said that the vessels have a capacity of absorbing 500 kilogrammes of waste in one trip.
“The boat is equipped with high pressure fire-fighting system and water can be pumped using this system to wash the waste on rocks and the sticky waste resulting from wave cracking,” he added.
“The waste collector boats made of marine aluminum are seven metres long, 0.8 metres deep, and three metres wide. They can move at a speed of six nautical miles per hour,” he elaborated.
Makki revealed that a massive amount of 2,410 tonnes of waste has been collected from Dubai’s streets during the first two days of the Clean-up the World campaign 2010.
According to him, a total of 21 abandoned vehicles were removed from different parts of the city in two days.
“Over 13,800 volunteers, including students and employees from private and public sectors in the emirate engaged in a variety of cleaning activities at different locations across the city,” added the head of the four-day campaign task force.
“More than 2,020 tonnes of waste was collected by 9,750 volunteers from 202 private companies, hotels, community groups and NGOs. About 3,150 students from 42 government schools, colleges and universities picked up a total of 280 tonnes of waste from Al Warqa-4 Beach area,” explained Makki.
“As many as 900 volunteers from 12 government departments collected 110 tonnes of waste from the beach area. A total of 40 pieces of bulk waste including furniture, air conditioners and refrigerators were also collected,” he noted.
The Clean-Up the World campaign has been inaugurated by the civic body’s Director General Hussain Nasser Lootah at Jumeirah Beach Residence on Tuesday.
“Jaddaf Area will be cleaned up on the concluding day of the campaign, witnessing participation by thousands of volunteers from the general public, community groups and private entities,” said a DM spokesperson.
(Image supplied)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Mental health services introduced at primary health centres in UAE

The Gulf Today, 28 Oct 2010

THE UAE Ministry of Health (MoH) has introduced mental health services at all primary health centres and other healthcare facilities across the country, according to a senior health official.
Executive Director for Health Policies at the MoH Dr Mahmood Fikri said, “A health psychology section has been established under the central department for primary healthcare to provide all levels of psychological health services for residents.”
He was speaking after participating in the 57th regional annual report session of the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Middle Eastern Mediterranean Committee held recently in Cairo.
“The regional committee urged all member countries to review and prepare their national policies, strategies and plans coinciding with the current mental health issues of mothers, children and adolescents in the region,” said Dr Fikri.
He had revealed in the beginning of this month that mental disorders among mothers, children and adolescents in the region emerged as a crucial public health issue.
“An estimated 15 to 36 per cent of mothers were suffering from mental disorders in the Gulf countries. Meanwhile, the rate is 10 to 36 per cent among children and adolescents,” he elaborated.
“The rates were shocking as the mental health challenges faced by people in the Middle East were analysed as being stiffer than the problems faced by the people in developed countries,” he pointed out.
“The WHO’s regional conference discussed the alarming issues in order to bring out strategies to be implemented to eliminate the stress of the mental diseases among the region’s people,” added Dr Fikri.
“The conference also discussed the significance of unified emergency and crisis management plans among the member countries with the support of a regional solidarity fund for emergency cases, and role of ministries of health in preparing national emergency strategies,” he noted.
Dr Fikri added that the WHO had approved the nutrition strategies of the MoH. “A study will be conducted to evaluate nutrition problems of the student community,” he pointed out.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Vaccination for Haj pilgrims until Nov 14 in Dubai

The Gulf Today, 20 Oct 2010

The Dubai Health Authority (DHA) has started an on-site Haj health safety services campaign for the pilgrims from the government sector.
The vaccinations will cover pilgrims from Dubai’s 15 public sector organisations, under ENAYA health insurance coverage for the government employees, according to a senior DHA official.
Dr Ahmed Ibrahim Saif Kalban, CEO for Primary Health Care Services Sector at the DHA, said that the campaign has commenced a couple of days ago, and the flu vaccinations will be provided until Nov.14.
“Specialists from the DHA’s preventive health services centres will visit their workplaces of the pilgrims to give them the mandatory vaccinations which should be done at least two weeks prior to traveling,” he added.
Dr Fatma Mahmoud Al Attar, Head of Preventive Services Centres Department at the DHA, elaborated, “The DHA’s Hajj travel health campaign provides consultations by travel health specialists and family physicians.”
“Influenza vaccinations, Meningococcal vaccine, distribution of first-aid kit and educational materials, medication for fever if necessary and international certificate will also be provided,” she added.
According to her, the department’s preventive medicine specialists will educate the pilgrims on health safety measures to be adopted before starting the journey and during the Haj ceremonies.
“The DHA also will conduct Haj health safety programmes and consultations for private and individual parties too. The health education sessions also include protective steps to be taken against seasonal flu,” pointed out Dr Fatma.
“The ENAYA covered Haj pilgrims, regardless of their age, gender, nationality and medical status are required to attend the campaign. The Meningococcal vaccine should be taken by those who had not received it for the last three years,” she said.
“The Haj pilgrims, who are not covered under the Enaya insurance schemes, can avail the vaccinations from the preventive services section at the Mankhool Health Centre as per the DHA’s payment procedures,” noted Dr Fatma.

Ensuring a healthy Haj

The Gulf Today, 22 Oct 2010

PRIOR to starting the holy trip to the KSA to perform Hajj, pilgrims should adopt effective health safety measures to protect themselves from various communicable diseases, according to the health regulator of Dubai.
Pilgrims suffering from existing health challenges should also take additional cautions, to avoid catastrophe due to worsening of such diseases while performing the ceremonies in the holy land, advises Dubai Health Authority (DHA).
Dr Ahmed Ibrahim Saif Kalban, CEO for Primary Health Care Services Sector at the DHA, said, “The dreams of the pilgrims could be spoiled by falling sick, as numerous health risks have been associated with Hajj.”
“The health risks are caused by the highly overcrowded conditions, chances for transmission of various diseases among the pilgrims and practices associated with the Hajj ceremonies,” added Dr Kalban, who patrons the Hajj health services campaign for the year.
According to him, a number of other health challenges faced by the Gulf region as well as the chaotic climatic conditions of the region are also threats to the safety of pilgrims.
He urged all the Hajj pilgrims from the emirate to receive all recommended vaccinations and empower their health conditions before they begin their travel to the holy land.
“Each pilgrim should consult their doctor at least three weeks prior to the trip,” advised Dr Kalban.
Dr Fatma Mahmoud Al Attar, head of Preventive Services Centres Department at the DHA, discussed the common food or water-borne diseases that may make the pilgrims sick during the Hajj days.
“Diarrhea is one of the most common diseases affecting many Hajj pilgrims. Poor hygiene, improper sanitations in crowded conditions and some particular types of food items like green salads, fish or ice-cream are the main reasons for diarrhea,” she elaborated.
“The symptoms of diarrhea include abdominal pain, vomiting, fever and dehydration,” she added.
To protect oneself from diarrhea, Dr Fatma advised the pilgrims to avoid eating exposed food, roasted items or nuts, fish, milk, ice creams and salads, etc.
“However, no medical treatment is needed for most of the diarrhea cases. If one suffers from diarrhea, the best remedy is to drink adequate amount of liquids to prevent dehydration. The recommended food items are rice, banana, yoghurt, boiled egg, etc.,” she said.
“Do not buy food from street vendors, especially raw foods. Drink only bottled and boiled water and wash hands often,” she warned.
Dr Fatma explained about blood-borne diseases that may affect the pilgrims, as most men shave their head at the completion of their Hajj.
“Local barbers often reuse razors and grazes or abrasions from the razor nicks are common. The practice may increase risks of Hepatitis B and C. So, the pilgrims are advised to go to barbers licensed by the government,” she said.
“All the pilgrims should take vaccines against the Hepatitis before traveling for the Hajj, as the fatal disease can strike any moment,” she added.
According to her, outbreaks of Meningitis are also common among the pilgrims.
“Overcrowded conditions, high humidity and dense air pollution contribute to high meningococcal carriage rates at 80 per cent. The Meningococcal Meningitis caused by W135 is lethal. Upper respiratory tract infections may predispose people to Meningitis,” she said.
“Thus, the hajj pilgrims should be vaccinated before travel. Receiving Meningococcal Meningitis vaccine ACW135Y is mandatory for all travelers to enter Saudi Arabia for the Hajj. The vaccine is effective for three years and should be taken at least 10 days before travel,” she elaborated.
Dr Fatma added that “the overcrowded conditions also cause falling prey to respiratory infections and airborne infections. Pneumococcal vaccine is recommended for travelers above 65 years old. The pilgrims also are advised to wear a mask at crowded areas, and change the masks often. Administering flu vaccine is also required.”
“With regard to chronic diseases, patients suffering from diabetes should take extra care about their health conditions,” she said. “There are higher risks of high and low blood sugar problems during the Hajj. The patients should consult their doctors before leaving for the pilgrimage in order to manage the diabetes while at the holy land.”
“The diabetics should learn symptoms and signs of hypoglycemia and the methods to treat it. Wearing protective diabetic shoes, wearing identifying wrist bands or bracelets, keeping extra bottles of insulin and syringes, using a thermos-type jar to transport insulin, and avoiding take-away tea and juices are also advised.”
Moreover, Dr Fatma pointed out cases of people with high blood pressure. “If you are consuming certain high blood pressure medications, extra care should be taken to prevent from getting dehydrated, in addition to strictly controlling the BP before traveling. Take all medications exactly as prescribed, as the BP will rise again if the medication is stopped.”
“Those who suffer from bronchial asthma should be aware about the risks of asthma exacerbation during the Hajj. Such patients should also consult their doctors before the trip to have a plan to manage it, if symptoms aggravate during Hajj,” cautioned Dr Fatma.
She also advised them to carry a Nebulizer Machine with necessary medications if possible. “The patients should also learn the symptoms of acute attack and methods to overcome the situation immediately,” she noted.

Al Baraha Hospital launches emergency patients connection system

The Gulf Today, 26 Oct 2010

Al Baraha Hospital in Dubai has launched a new electronic connection system to receive data about emergency patients prior to their arrival at the hospital’s emergency ward.
The information transfer system, implemented in tandem with Dubai Ambulance Service Centre (DASC), will enable the hospital to be equipped with at the emergency ward for the treatment procedures and sooner rehabilitation of the patients, according to officials of the hospital.
Ahmed Obaid Al Khudaim, Director of Al Baraha Hospital and Director of Ambulance Department at the Ministry of Health (MoH), said that the mechanism to receive the emergency patients’ data in advance will speed up the response, preparation and treatment of the case as fast as possible.
“The nursing and technical staff members of the hospital have been trained on using the modern technology to deal with emergency and intensive care unit cases,” he added.
“The training was supervised by the DASC, aimed at raising the standards of healthcare services of the hospital by developing the healthcare professionals’ skills,” he added.
“Theoretical and practical training have been provided to the staff members by the DASC in applying the international standards of ambulance services and patients’ safety,” noted Al Khudaim.
“The DASC will increase training opportunities for the ambulance ward staff of the hospital to unify the policies and procedures of the treatment before, during and after the arrival of ambulance to the hospital,” he pointed out.

Unified drug registration law for GCC

The Gulf Today, 27 Oct 2010

A total of 48 medicines have been denied registration in the Middle East, as different health authorities in the region revised regulations and specifications for circulating pharmaceutical products.
The GCC central committee for pharmaceutical registration will implement a unified procedure of recording medicines in the region, with a set of drug registration bylaws for biological equivalence for the member countries, said a senior official at the UAE Ministry of Health (MoH).
Heading the 50th meeting of the regional body, Dr Amin Al Amiri, the executive director for Medical Practices and Licences at the MoH, said that the final draft of the new regulations have been prepared, focusing on co-operation between the GCC countries to ensure quality of the drugs.
“The unified standardising procedures will be a platform for the Gulf countries to exchange information on drugs and similar medicinal products,” he added.
“The regulations will control the movement of medicines across all the ports of the GCC, with an early pharma detection system and establishment of a common database accessible to the health sector employees,” pointed out Dr Amiri.
“The GCC committee focuses on pharmaceutical vigilance to quickly inform the member countries in the events of detecting violations medicinal products or complications related to negative side-effects of any drug,” he elaborated.
According to him, the efforts to ensure safety of the medicines supplied in the region have to be doubled through the national pharmaceutical vigilance committee. The safety food items, medical equipments and cosmetics also has to be monitored with stringent measures.
Dr Amiri, revealed, “The central GCC committee revised registration of 17 new medicinal products and completed procedures for 17 other medicines. The registration processes of 21 new pharmaceutical establishments and re-registration of some companies have also been analysed, in addition to reviewing functions of eight firms.”
“The 48 products, which were rejected registration by the GCC committee, were found not complying with the rules and conditions,” he added.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Gulf’s first private mobile mammography unit offers free testing

17 Oct 2010, The Gulf Today

The first mobile mammography unit in the private sector of the GCC countries has been unveiled by Lifeline Group Hospital in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.
The unit will offer free mammograms to the residents in the UAE and other Gulf countries with community outreach programmes for preventive medicine and early diagnosis of cancerous diseases, a spokesperson of the hospital told The Gulf Today.
The Lifeline Hospital Group has showcased the mobile mammography unit at the Abu Dhabi Medical Congress 2010.
Dr Shamsheer VP, managing director of Lifeline Hospital Group, said that the free mobile mammography unit is specifically adapted to the requirements of patients and healthcare providers in the Middle East.
“Initially the free breast cancer detection campaigns will be conducted in different parts of Abu Dhabi Emirate, in tandem with NGOs, universities, and corporate organisations,” he added.
“The campaign will specially address women in remote areas and places with less accessibility in the UAE and other Gulf countries. The free mammography in the unit is offered to those who fit the criteria for being at risk of developing breast cancer,” noted Dr Shamsheer.
“Our aim is to create awareness among the women in the age group of 40 to 69 years, as around 400 breast cancer cases are reported in the UAE every year. Most of them come for treatment in the advanced stage of cancer,” he pointed out.
Dr Shajir Gaffar, Corporate Relations Manager of the group, said, “The unit has been manufactured with complete digital programming systems, so any doctor can see the patients’ diagnosis report from anywhere in the world.”
“The vehicle is equipped with state-of-the-art screening solution, the Mammo Diagnost DR, ambience lighting system in the mammography examination room, doctor’s consultation room and space for awareness lectures,” he elaborated.
He pointed out, “The unit is customised to handle the often severe weather conditions in the region while traveling long distances to remote areas.”
“Services of the mobile breast cancer screening vehicles will be taken to new heights by reaching out to people with the life saving message on the importance of breast health and early detection of cancer,” said Dr Gaffar.
According to Dr Shamsheer, introduction of the mobile mammography unit and breast cancer prevention education unit with free services is the first-of-its-kind step by a private hospital in the region.
“The mammography unit is dedicated to the care of the womanhood of the region, in an initiative to reduce the number of mortality rates due to breast cancer among the region’s woman community, and empower them to maintain their good health,” he said.
The mobile mammography unit was unveiled by Dr Ahmed Mubarak Al Mazrouei, Chairman of Health Authority of Abu Dhabi (Haad).

Dubai simplifies procedures for medical fitness tests

17 Oct 2010, The Gulf Today

The documentation for medical fitness tests to issue or renew employment and residency visas of expatriates in Dubai has been made easier, as the health regulatory body revamped its online interface.
The new website of the Dubai Health Authority’s (DHA) has an enhanced online patient record system, through which the patients can easily access to their medical records, according to a DHA spokesperson.
Licensing procedures for medical professionals and health facilities also have been made simpler through the brand-new web portal, which was unveiled on Sunday at GITEX 2010.
Qadhi Saeed Al Murooshid, Director General of the DHA, said that the enhanced medical fitness interface for the expatriates will enable them to get the service through simplified procedures.
“The system will automatically propose packages for the applicants, based upon their job description, if they simply enter healthcare number and occupation in the specified space on the portal,” he added.
According to him, the system can also provide package options depending on the urgency level, enabling the users avail details in lesser time.
“Once the requisite package has been selected,” Al Murooshid pointed out, “payment can be made online and the visa applicant can choose the nearest health centre for conducting the tests, the results of which will be sent online to the Dubai Naturalisation and Immigration Department (DNRD).”
According to the DHA chief, the comprehensive information and e-services showcased online will cater to the specific needs of different categories including patients, students, researchers, employees, professionals and investors.
“It will be a comprehensive platform for all e-government health requirements, ensuring tailored information. The search options for physicians or health and pharmaceutical establishments in private and public sectors will help the residents seek preferred services,” indicated Al Murooshid.
Mubaraka Ibrahim, Director of IT Section at the DHA, said that the enhanced online patient medical record system will help the patients to use the authority’s health facilities to book and reschedule their appointments.
“The patients also can check their medical results, access to medical reports and medication online and transfer their medical files from one DHA health centre to another,” she added.
“The procedures for renewal and issuance of license for medical professionals and healthcare facilities have also been eased through the website’s dedicated regulation sub-link, through which the applicants can obtain specific information they require and apply online,” elaborated Ibrahim.
“The main portal has been designed with 12 new sub-sites for the government hospitals, medical education and health regulation departments, and centres for blood research, donation, Thalassemia, Genetics, medical fitness and health services.
“The integrated website also features Google mapping of the DHA facilities, alerts and notifications for customers and Really Simple Syndication (RSS) option,” she concluded.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Unified blood transfusion policy soon

22 Sept 2010, The Gulf Today

THE UAE Ministry of Health (MoH) is currently planning to implement a unified policy for blood transfusion and donation services in the country’s healthcare sector.
The rules and regulations of the proposed policy with regard to blood transfusion will be implemented across the country, once it’s developed in tandem with guidelines put forth by international healthcare monitoring organisations, said a senior health official.
Dr Amin Al Amiri, executive director for medical practices and licences at the MoH, said that the national higher committee for blood donation is studying the feasibility of applying the updated regulations to provide hospitals and healthcare facilities with sufficient blood stock as per their requirements.
“Comprehensive conditions will be drafted in the unified policy on acceptance and refusal of the blood donation, informing the donors on the positive results and application procedures for the donation,” he added.
“Preventive medicine centres will also keep an electronic system for notification of the blood donors, who carry infectious diseases. There will also be a national criterion for standardisation of blood donation mechanism,” elaborated Dr Amiri.
“The labourers’ blood examinations are being conducted, ensuring the highest level of safety measures to avoid negative impacts due to the cultural differences and traditions among the labourers,” he said.
According to him, the national higher committee will conduct various awareness programmes and training workshops in and outside the UAE on safe blood transfusion practices, and different blood-borne diseases.
“The UAE nationals are on top of the blood donors list in the country, comprising donors from 73 nationalities for more than 17 years. The number of the donors has increased at 13 per cent this year,” pointed out Dr Amiri.
He said that the UAE will be hosting a global convention on safe injection practices from Nov.9 to 11.
“The WHO’s eleventh global network for injection safety programme will take significant steps towards preventing lethal diseases transmitted through contaminated syringes in developed countries,” he said.
“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,” he added.
“The World Health Organiasation (WHO) has selected the blood transfusion services centre in Sharjah as the regional reference centre in the Middle East,” noted Dr Amiri.

New neurosurgical procedure gives accident victims hope

23 Sept 2010, The Gulf Today

DAMAGES to the nerves due to road accidents, paralysis, or cuts in the spinal cord nerve cells will be able to heal in the UAE hospitals with the support of an innovative neurological surgery procedure, say health officials.
The treatment will be given to such patients with the help of a technology that uses stem cells to cure the brain scratches, said Dr Amin Al Amiri, Executive Director for Medical Practices and Licences at the MoH.
“Stem cells taken from the patient’s body itself will be injected to the affected nerves. The treatment is applied in new cases that cannot be cured by traditional medicine or physiotherapy,” he added.
The UAE hospitals in both public and private sectors will be able to practise the neurological surgery method to take care of such cases, noted Dr Amiri.
Aimed at highlighting the role of the new technology in the country’s healthcare sector, the MoH has organised an educational workshop in this regard at Dubai Healthcare City (DHCC) on Wednesday.
A presentation was made by Dr Hallock Dida, a Turkish advisor and expert, to a number of surgeons and neurology specialists from both public and private hospitals across the country.
“The cooperation between the MoH and the private sector comes as part of a new strategy to develop advanced healthcare services inside the country,” noted Dr Amiri.
“The new strategies aim to meet the requirements of the residents, providing them with opportunities of receiving all kinds of treatments inside the country rather than going abroad,” he pointed out.
“Further modern healthcare technologies will be introduced in the country, so the residents can depend completely on the country’s facilities for various treatments and surgeries, gradually strengthening the health tourism scenario in the UAE,” elaborated Dr Amiri.

Plans to enhance med-tourism

29 Sept 2010, The Gulf Today
The Dubai Health Authority (DHA) has announced strategies to further boost its medical tourism activities in the Emirate slated for 2011.
As part of the strategies, the DHA will host the regional Medical Tourism Association (MTA) conference in Dubai in February 2011, with the participation of private and public healthcare establishments to showcase Dubai’s healthcare capabilities, said the chief of the Authority.
Qadhi Saeed Al Murooshid, Director General of the DHA, said the DHA recently signed a MoU with the MTA at the World Medical Tourism and Global Health Congress, which took place in Los Angeles from Sept.22 to 24, to host the summit for the first time in the Middle East region.
“Dubai is already known to be one of the top tourism destinations in the world and the local authority is further building its healthcare capabilities, policies and regulations to ensure that Dubai enjoys the same position as a healthcare destination,” he added.
“At the conference, the DHA and the private sector will represent their centres in the fields of diabetes management, rehabilitation facilities, surgery, and other specialities. The conference will be a platform representing Dubai’s healthcare tourism strengths to the global medial tourism sector,” elaborated Al Murooshid.
According to him, Dubai has witnessed a phenomenal growth in the healthcare sector, following the Dubai Strategic Plan 2015 to position the Emirate at high rank on the global medical tourism map.
He urged the private sector to energise the medical tourism scenario by developing state-of-the-art healthcare facilitates in the city.
“The patient base over the years indicated an increase in the number of patients from the Gulf region landing in Dubai for treatment,” pointed out Al Murooshid.
Laila Al Jassmi, CEO of the Health Policy and Strategy Sector at the DHA, said, “Dubai’s medical tourism sector generates over 30 billion dollars worth of revenue annually. Now, the DHA is strengthening its policies and regulations to further develop its healthcare capabilities focusing on medical tourism.”
“The enhancement targets international players looking for lucrative healthcare opportunities,” she added.
Meanwhile, a September-end survey carried out by a healthcare travel consultant in Dubai had revealed that the UAE was at eleventh position among the countries that had made a mark in medical tourism.

MoH aims to develop more CME programmes

10 Oct 2010, The Gulf Today

THE Ministry of Health (MoH) plans to enhance its mechanism for providing continuing medical education (CME) programmes to doctors and other medical professionals, in tandem with the University of Sharjah.
The federal authority aims to develop more CME programmes in future to hone the medical and technical skills of professionals employed in various hospitals and healthcare centres across the country, according to a senior official.
Dr Amin Al Amiri, executive director for Medical Practices and Licenses at the MoH, said that a special committee will be set up to study the outcomes of the CME training programmes and evaluate each programme.
“The committee will analyse the actual training currently required in each specialisation for the medical professionals both in public and private sectors, in order to support the healthcare establishments and encourage them to participate in such programmes,” he added.
According to Dr Amiri, a training programme will also be set up for the students of the College of Medicine, Dentistry, Pharmacology and Medical Labs at the Sharjah university.
“The future plans would guarantee the education programmes of the Sharjah university in all medical majors, facilitating the students in their future job plans. Professional diplomas will also be offered for all medical majors according to the requirements of the private health sector in the UAE,” he elaborated.

UAE recalls diet pill Siburtamine

16 Oct 2010, The Gulf Today

All generic versions of controversial Sibutramine slimming pills have been ordered off the shelves from the UAE markets on Friday.
The Ministry of Health (MoH) has issued a circular to health facilities and pharmaceutical establishments to cease dispensing the Sibutramine-based drugs, which is mostly used as an easy weight loss solution.
The medicines are manufactured and marketed by Abbott Laboratories, under brand names such as Reductil, Meridia and Sibutrex.
The MoH imposed the ban after global drug control organisations issued guidelines to stop consumption of the Sibutramine, as the benefit of the substance is smaller than its health risks.
Studies revealed the medicine had multiplied cardiovascular risks and strokes in numerous users, according to a senior MoH official.
The US Drug and Food Administration (FDA) enforced a ban on such drugs, and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) issued guidance recently to stop its use.
The orally-administered appetite suppressant for the treatment of obesity had also been barred from Canada, New Zealand, Taiwan, Hong Kong, the EU, Australia, Korea and Kuwait.
Dr Amin Al Amiri, Executive Director for Medical Practices and Licenses at the MoH, said, “The existing stocks of the respective products have been recalled, as recommended by the FDA and the EMA, and requested by its manufacturer and agent in the UAE.”
“Registration, import or export of all products that contain Sibutramine substance have also been suspended, soon after the announcement of the clinical results,” he added.
“All medical practitioners have been instructed to follow the cases of the users and provide them with the required treatment by subscribing to new alternatives,” pointed out Dr Amiri.
“Events of Sibutramine’s side-effects also should be reported to the drug control and registration department in the ministry,” he urged.
According to him, all the batches of the respective products will be out of the shelves of the UAE’s hospitals and pharmacies within two weeks from the date of the issuance of the circular.
Meanwhile, the MoH had announced in the beginning of this year that Sibutramine products available in the UAE could be consumed without fear.
This was in light of tougher warnings by the FDA on chances of risks from usage of the drug by cardiac patients.
The decision for the complete withdrawal of all the Sibutramine products in the UAE has been taken after reviewing their effects once again.
The MoH advised patients to stop taking the drugs.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Thumbay health group unveils Dhs350m expansion

12 Oct 2010, The Gulf Today

AJMAN: Ajman-based Thumbay Group, one of the region’s leading healthcare players, has announced a massive expansion worth Dhs350 million.
The first teaching hospital establishment in the UAE also has released its renovated brand identity for its university and hospital located in the emirate of Ajman, the group’s spokesperson told The Gulf Today.
His Highness Sheikh Humaid Bin Rashid Al Nauimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Ajman, has recently unveiled the expansion plan model for the proposed 300-bed hospital facility, along with the new brand identity for the Gulf Medical University (GMU) and the GMC Hospital,” he added.
Thumbay Moideen, President of Thumbay Group, said, “The expansion plan will cover several innovative projects in its first phase, and the investment apart from the promoter’s equity will be financed through Islamic banking sources.”
“The move aims to boost the existing activities of the group, which is involved in medical education, healthcare, medical services, leisure and hospitality,” he added.
According to him, “Learn from the World” will be the GMU’s new brand statement, depicting learning as a process that cannot be limited to the precincts of the books or the institution alone.
“With the completion of the primary phase of the expansion by 2012, the GMU will be the first-of-its-kind full-fledged campus with a 300-bed specialty hospital in the region,” said Moideen.
“The second phase of the expansion plan will be announced in the next six months, incorporating several international healthcare establishments in the project,” he added.
According to him, the university will have a perfect blend of capable faculty from all across the world and an equipped infrastructure; the students will acquire the best from the world to hone their skills and knowledge.
Akbar Moideen Thumbay, Director of the GMU and the GMC Hospital, said, “The GMU will launch 25 new certificate programmes this year, under the centre for continuing education and community outreach. The University has a full-fledged ‘Vision 2020 Plan’ in place with several programmes to be commenced every year beginning this year,” pointed out Akbar.
“The GMC Hospital will open up new hospitals in Ajman, Dubai and Abu Dhabi emirates, as well as a medical centre in Sharjah. The group also plans to open a second unit of the GMC Hospital in Malawi, Africa, as well as spread its services to India,” he said.
“With the launch of the new brand identity, GMC Hospital promises several hi-tech services with focus on quality and patient safety. The new brand incorporates refined patient services like online appointments, SMS confirmations, refined ward management and hospital management services through online hospital information system (integrating all departments to deliver better care), valet parking, Marhaba lounge and fully integrated digital signage. All these facilities will become operational soon,” he elaborated.
Abkar said, “Once the first phase is finished, the group’s human resources strength also will increase to around 2,500 staff members, with more than 2,000 people including students, faculty and other employees housed in the campus.”
“A mosque, a health club, an expanded library, housing and hostel for faculty and staff members, a convention centre, an amphitheatre, and a restaurant also will be in store,” he added.

Certified specialist must at food firms in Dubai

12 Oct 2010, The Gulf Today

Further tightening food and bio-security mechanism in Dubai, the civic authorities on Monday have mandated all food establishments in the emirate to appoint a trained and certified food safety specialist titled Person-in-Charge (PIC) at their facilities.
The new regulation to employ the person, who ensures all applied food safety policies and procedures, will come in to effect from January 2011, according to a senior official at Dubai Municipality (DM).
Khalid Mohammed Sharif, Director of Food Control Department of the DM, said that the PIC’s responsibility is to monitor food safety by supervising all sorts of food handling procedures such as preparation, storage, display or serving orders.
“The PIC can be the establishment owner or a designated person like shift leader, chef, kitchen manager, having direct authority to actively control the practices. The managerial control on food safety activities will protect public health and reduce food waste,” he added.
“Safe and hygienic practices were found to be very poor in many food establishments of the emirate. People in managerial level were either not trained well or not involved in enforcing food safety practices," noted Sharif.
“The PIC should have the capability to implement right and quick food safety related decisions. The person will be liaising with the civic inspectors or regulatory office,” he said.
“Unless there is a responsible person present in the facility, the inspectors cannot provide recommended corrective actions for the violations found during the inspections. Consumers also will be communicating with the PIC to lodge a complaint to the establishment about their food or service," he pointed out.
According to him, some food trading companies breach regulations while importing food into the country. Such violations are detected at ports, and the food import is either rejected or discarded.
“Many of such unnecessary issues could be prevented if a trader has a good understanding about the food standards and related requirements and corrects it at the country of origin," Sharif elaborated.
“The PICs will have to undergo a mandatory accredited training programme, which will be commenced in December. Different custom-made training programmes have been designed for the PICs from sectors like retail, manufacturing, catering or food trading,” Sharif noted.
“The PICs in the retail and manufacturing sectors will receive intensive training in safe food preparation, food storage, cleaning, personal hygiene, building construction, pest control and staff training,” he said.
"They will be educated on local food regulations, following food inspections and taking corrective actions when necessary; following up and responding to customers’ complaints. Lessons on food import regulations, labelling, microbiological and chemical standards will also be in store,” he added.
“The medium of instruction will be English, but the lectures will be delivered in Arabic, Malayalam and Urdu languages by the first quarter of the next year. A PIC handbook will also be published guiding them how to operate a food establishment safely,” said Sharif.
According to him, the most important part will be that of ‘self inspection’ where the PICs will be taught the inspection methods at their own work place.

Monday, October 11, 2010

143 tonnes of food items rejected in Abu Dhabi

11 Oct 2010, The Gulf Today

The import of about 143 tonnes of food materials has been rejected in Abu Dhabi during the current year, according to the capital’s food safety watchdog.
Sources at the Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority (ADFCA) told The Gulf Today that the food items were impounded at the border crossing points for not complying with the applied food safety standards and specifications.
Mohammad Jalal Al Reyaysa, Director of Communication and Community Service at the ADFCA, said, “The establishments that imported the food items have been enforced to return the consignments to their countries of origin.”
“The rejection of the food materials came due to a number of violations, including non-certification for being free from pesticide residues, lack of proper licensing for import and non-adherence to other food safety regulations,” he added.
“Some food products were found contaminated with coli form bacteria, while other items didn’t have public health safety certificates from the authorities of the exporting countries. Some importers breached conditions for transporting food items,” he pointed out.
According to Al Reyaysa, this is very important step in the ADFCA’s efforts at ensuring maximum food safety to the residents of the emirate.
“The actions against the law-breakers have been taken in collaboration with other authorities concerned manning the border points,” he noted.
Looking at the food safety violations by the food service establishments in Abu Dhabi, the ADFCA sources revealed that restaurants figured on top of the complaints received by the Authority.
“The violations by the restaurants constituted 54 per cent of all the grievances during the first half of 2010, followed by cafeterias with 27 per cent, bakeries and confectionaries with 15 per cent and caterers with 4 per cent,” read an AFDCA statement issued to The Gulf Today.
According to it, the main unit at the ADFCA for supplies conducted a study of all the complaints it received in the first half of the year and continued the efforts during the second half as well.
“In comparison to the first half of the year, complaints about insects rose from 19 per cent to 32 per cent in the second half. This is attributable to not using approved companies for insecticide and the onset of summer. Complaints about bad hygienic conditions dropped in the second half, from 19 per cent to 8 per cent,” elaborated the statement.
“Complaints about unhealthy practices also dropped from 21 per cent in the first half to 13 per cent in the second. A number of factors could explain these changes, including intensified inspections on food outlets, proper redress of the grievances received in the first half and other measures from the ADFCA,” it added.
(Pic used for illustrative purpose only)

Amzylite ordered off the shelves in UAE

11 Oct 2010, The Gulf Today

The health authorities in the UAE have cancelled registrations of Amzylite F1.2 500 mg capsules, a drug that manufacturers reportedly claim as a perfect cure for diabetes.
The Ministry of Health (MoH) alerted the public and healthcare professionals to be aware of the lack of credibility of the drug’s publicity literature through online tools.
The MoH issued on Sunday a circular to all healthcare establishments across the country that registration of all the medicinal products by the name of Amzylite had been cancelled.
The circular required doctors to advise their patients to immediately discontinue the medicine, if they use it or report to the ministry in case of any complications due to its usage.
“All the packages of the medicine marketed in the country have been withdrawn, as they were manufactured in a combination that was different from the one registered with the MoH,” read the circular.
Dr Amin Al Amiri, Executive Director for Medical Practices and Licensing at the MoH, said that the Amzylite was being circulated in the country breaching the conditions for pharmaceutical products’ marketing.
“The drug’s online promotions claimed it as being the best treatment for diabetes.
Such statements on its power to heal diabetes perfectly are not approved by the health ministry,” he added.
The London-based drug manufacturer Saccharides Science and Technology claimed on its website that Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes can never be cured by insulin usage, so their scientists had developed the Amylite F1.2 product to correct defects that could exist in a diabetic patient.
“We are well known to the US, UK and UAE’s research institutions and independent health trade, health practitioners and diabetic patients as the sole developer and supplier of the Amzylite capsules for diabetes supplementation and treatment,” read the portal
“The company is the first in the world to discover, invent, and use saliva analysis to early detect, diagnosis, prognosis and treat Type 1, and Type 2 diabetes mellitus,” said the website.
The company also stated as working within the framework of the current US, EU and the UAE legislations and regulations whilst practicing the highest ethical standards.
Dr Amiri pointed out, “The misguiding Web promotion is not under the control of the health advertising department of the MoH, which has implemented strict mechanism to prevent circulation of the medicine among diabetes patients.”
He urged the pharmacies and healthcare establishments to report to the department of drug control and registration if they have stocks of the medicine.
“The MoH circular,” noted Dr Amiri, “required the doctors to ensure that their patients are not consuming the Amzylite drug for the diabetes.”
He also warned the public not to be cheated by false claim messages or online promotions published without the knowledge of the health authorities in the country.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Health ministry removes 2 errant doctors

The Gulf Today, 5 Oct 2010

The medical licensing committee of the Ministry of Health (MoH) has removed two doctors from their practice on Monday for professional malpractices.
Licenses of the unethical practitioners have been withdrawn, in addition to blacklisting of their names, according to a senior official.
Dr Amin Al Amiri, Executive Director for Medical Practices and Licenses at the MoH, told The Gulf Today that one of the sacked doctors was caught for impersonating in front of patients using the name and stamp of his colleague, who was out of the country on vacation.
“The other was found forging medical reports of the patients. The patients have the right to approach the court and sue the doctors or hospitals in the event of negligence and violations,” he added.
“Several other doctors who breached the MoH regulations have also been temporarily suspended from practice until their appearance before the medical licensing committee to analyse their violations,” said the acting chairman of the committee.
“The higher committee also called on directors of the medical centres to investigate the irregularities and violations committed by the doctors employed at their establishments,” said Dr Amiri.
According to him, stringent action will be initiated against the erring medical professionals in the country.
“The medical licensing committee members meet regularly to monitor the complaints against the breaching practitioners and review the regulations and medical practices pertaining to the private sector,” he noted.
Dr Amiri highlighted that about seven medical centres and hospitals in the private sector have received international accreditations for achieving excellence and providing quality healthcare services to patients across the country.
He hailed the vital role of the private medical sector in the country in providing advanced healthcare services to the patients.
“A total of 1,058 hospitals and medical centres are being operated in the private sector in the UAE. The ministry also supervises about 4,350 doctors, 1,005 pharmacies, 129 medical stores, nine pharmaceutical factories and nine private research offices,” elaborated Dr Amiri.

Municipality requires safety warnings on toy packages

The Gulf Today, 5 Oct 2010

LOCAL manufacturers and establishments selling toys and similar game products should ensure warning messages have been placed on the products about the age restrictions of using them, said Dubai Municipality (DM).
The restriction messages should be written in both Arabic and English languages, according to a senior DM official.
Redha Salman, director of the Public Health and Safety Department at DM, said that the age group for each toy should be mentioned prominently on such products, whether they are manufactured locally or imported from foreign countries.
He called on parents, educators, teachers and vendors to ensure that the toys are selected after considering whether they are appropriate for their child's age. "When it comes to purchasing toys for babies, parents should ascertain the reliability and safety of the game products in order to protect children from fatal hazards or long-lasting damage," warned Salman.
"Small parts of some toys expose children below three years to the risks of suffocation, if the toy contained parts that can be removed easily by hand," he said.
"Many toys can be split into small pieces and be easily swallowed by babies, who may also munch or try to eat parts like eyes, which can be separated from many dolls available in the local market," he said.
"Even though toys have a significant role in the growth of children's mental and physical abilities, it is known that the children of lower age have the habit of putting things in their mouths," he remarked.
"Children under the age of 10 get some toys from groceries with manufactured cheap and hazardous plastic parts that are often misused, and may lead to lasting injuries to the kids," pointed out Salman.
He elaborated, "Usage of high concentrations of heavy metals and chemicals in the manufacture of some of the toys affects the health and safety of children negatively, such as a negative impact on the heart, bones, digestive system and nervous system."
"These symptoms will be visible through the children's abnormal behavior and learning difficulties," he added.
"Knitted and stuffed toys look beautiful and attractive to children externally, but [can pose] health risks for them if there is a hole in the stitching or in case the sewing is weak."
"It allows the emergence of the internal filling material and it becomes easy to access them, which may cause a risk of suffocation as a result of inhalation or swallowing of the material," said Salman.
According to him, the parents and children's supervisors are responsible to choose appropriate toys for their kids to keep them safe from the risks involved with hazardous or terrible toys.
Introducing a number of hazardous materials that may enter in the manufacture of toys, the DM on Sunday has launched a health safety drive titled "My Safety in My Toy."
The campaign, which started at Children's City on Sunday, will run until Oct 12, educating the public on the precautions to be taken while purchasing toys for their children.
According to Salman, the civic body monitors all sorts of toys that enter the market of the emirate.
"The DM implements strict control over the toys that are showcased in the local markets. All the imported items related to children in the context of consumer protection undergo intense inspection procedures by the civic officials, in addition to laboratory tests carried out at the toys lab of the Dubai central laboratory," he noted.
(Pic by Nisham A. Manaf)