Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sharjah launches residential recycling programme

30 Jan 2011, The Gulf Today

Sharjah’s public sector environmental management establishment Bee’ah has launched a residential recycling programme in the emirate, as a first of its kind initiative in the UAE.
The residential recycling programme aims at promoting source segregation, besides providing the tools such as bins and totes in residential towers to collect waste, said a top official of Bee’ah.
Salim Bin Mohammed Al Owais, Chairman of Bee’ah, said that the programme includes free door-to-door training on how to recycle at home.
“Bee’ah’s city cleaning division Tandeef plans to serve the whole of the emirate by the end of 2011, as it completes a year of servicing over 800,000 residents in Sharjah. Tandeef’s fleet of vehicles and street sweepers will be further expanded, generating over 750 new jobs, by the end of the year,” he added.
The Tandeef was launched in January 2010, aimed at delivering a comprehensive, cost-effective, environmentally sound and technically reliable waste collection and city beautification solutions.
“Tandeef collects over 600,000 tons of non-hazardous municipal solid waste annually in the serviced sectors within the emirate. The division is currently on an aggressive timeline to expand its collection programmes, complementing Bee’ah’s recycling programme, to include all segments of the community such as residential, commercial and industrial,” elaborated Al Owais.
According to him, this is as part of Bee’ah’s overall integrated waste management strategy.
“Bee’ah is implementing strong strategies to turn waste into resources, placing Sharjah at the forefront of a positive environmental change, leading the way for a greener and better place to live and work,” he indicated.
“Bee’ah has already introduced the Middle East’s first 14-ton street flushing tanker, which goes beyond conventional sweeping and litter picking by cleaning roads with water,” he noted.
Khaled Al Huraimel, CEO of Bee’ah, said, “Tandeef started its operation by servicing Al Majaz Area, which is home to about 300,000 of Sharjah’s nearly one million residents. Within two months, the services were extended to the forth and fifth sectors of the emirate.”
“The Tandeef services included scheduled waste collection, public space and street vacuuming, cleaning, and sweeping. The fleet included a range of superior and all purpose specific vehicles ranging from those used for refuse collection and line-haul long range transport, large street sweepers, mini street sweepers, vacuuming machines to two-stream collection vehicles for waste and recycling,” he explained.
According to him, the division is responsible for the upkeep of the three-stream pedestrian recycling programme that was initially introduced by Bee’ah in 2007.
Al Huraimel noted, “Three-stream recyclers consist of three separate containers for paper, cardboard and plastic, glass and cans, and all other waste. Bee’ah uses these recyclers as a vehicle for furthering education on environmental sustainability by providing advertising opportunities on them for corporations to deliver corporate social responsibility (CSR) messages and communications.”
“GPS vehicle tracking and computerised route-optimisation systems are used to maximise vehicle service efficiency and reduce environmental impact due to emissions.”
“The division is also in charge of collecting waste from Sharjah’s Khalid and Al Khan Lagoons via cleaning boats introduced in August 2010, which are able to collect around 100 kilogrammes of recyclables per day, doubling the rate of earlier techniques used,” concluded Al Huraimel.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Mideast healthcare sector remains robust

The Gulf Today, 26 Jan 2011

The Middle East healthcare sector continues to enjoy robust growth despite the global financial crunch and stubborn levels of unemployment in Europe and the US, according to the organisers of the 36th edition of Arab Health Congress and Exhibition.
The healthcare spending in the region is expected to triple over the next 15 years to $60 billion annually and the number of beds at hospitals will double to162,000 by 2025, revealed Simon Page, Group Director of Arab Health.
“By the year 2020, the GCC healthcare industry growth will surpass the global healthcare economic trends which show 40 per cent growth over the past five years,” he indicated.
“Having been considerable resilient to the global economic slowdown so far, the GCC is not immune to the challenges that come with a rapidly growing healthcare sector, such as ageing populations, increased burden of diseases and antiquated healthcare systems,” said Page.
“The growth in popularity of fast food and lack of exercise are elective lifestyle issues which have driven instances of diabetes, cardiovascular and obesity-related illnesses to record levels, placing further pressure on regional healthcare providers,” he noted.
“The growth of Arab Health is consistent with the expected boom in the Gulf’s healthcare economy, as more than 300 new exhibitors and a host of new country pavilions are participating this year, with Argentina, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and Portugal making their debuts,” he added.
The global healthcare industry meets in Dubai at the largest gathering of healthcare professionals in the Middle East region.
Healthcare establishments from different parts of the world have descended on Dubai do business at the Arab Health, which was kicked off at Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre on Monday.
The four-day healthcare extravaganza features over 2800 exhibiting companies from 60 countries covering 85,000 square metres of floor space and with the participation of over 65,000 medical and healthcare professionals.
According to Page, the Arab Health features the world’s most comprehensive series of multi-track medical conferences covering the entire spectrum of healthcare provision, management and legislation.
“This year, major delegations have come from China with over 400 participating companies, Germany with over 350 companies and the UAE, the US, the UK and Italy, all with well over 150 companies exhibiting,” he added.
“Large representations also come from France, India, South Korea and Taiwan with upwards of 100 companies each. The exhibition is a complete sell out. The congress is viewed as a must-attend global event in the healthcare calendar,” he said.
“As the global economic downturn puts spotlight on cost-effective business models and investment strategies, leading healthcare professionals from across the world discuss the latest issues and address the challenges in today’s regional and global healthcare industry at Leaders in Healthcare, the flagship event of Arab Health 2011,” elaborated Page.
“The session focuses on developing business models for the sustainable delivery of future healthcare, paying particular attention to cost savings, cost-effectiveness and strategies to raise investment capital.”
“Healthcare professionals should cultivate strategies to economise where prudent and to capitalise on investment opportunities and developing sustainable business models,” he opined.
“Dubai has seen a growth in the development of private healthcare facilities to meet its need of a growing population. The growing population is also more sophisticated in their choice in healthcare so patient-centered care is playing a vital role in building trust and attracting patients to the private sector,” Page said.
Commenting on the main areas of growth for the healthcare industry in Dubai, Dr Ayesha Abdulla, Executive Director of Dubai Healthcare City, said, “There remains a strong demand for high quality healthcare providers in tertiary care. If patient needs can be addressed at home, then they are more likely to stay.”
“This offers great potential for specialists in fields of relevant to the local population’s health issues such as diabetes and cardiology. The demand also included in the areas of oncology, pediatrics, fertility treatment, elderly care, special needs, rehabilitation services and complementary and alternative medicine,” she explained.
Speaking at the Quality Management in Healthcare Conference, Dr Samer H Ellahham, Chief Quality Officer and Senior Consultant of Cleveland Clinic at Sheikh Khalifa Medical City in Abu Dhabi, said, “There are significant gaps in quality management practices throughout the Middle East. We need to raise the importance of quality management, to improve the quality of healthcare.”
“With the region’s healthcare sector rapidly expanding, hospitals, clinics and healthcare service providers must stay ahead of the competition by keeping their medical accreditation up-to-date,” he added.

Private medical licensing procedures go online in UAE

The Gulf Today, 25 Jan 2011

Goodbye to the long queues and pressures of waiting lengthy hours at the Ministry of Health (MoH) office to apply for the qualifying examinations or license renewal of medical professionals and healthcare establishments!
The licensing procedures for medical professionals and private sector healthcare establishments in the Northern emirates have been modified by the MoH with a unified online access to the licensing and registration services.
The ministry has deployed a smart document solution on evaluation of certificates and medical permits for the applications with a new interface incorporated in the ministry’s web portal, a senior ministry official revealed.
The system has streamlined the process of job application with automated proactive communication wherein documents are stored in a digital format, which allows authorised data verification and comparison. The system also prohibits data change at both software and hardware levels.
Dr Ahmed Al Zarouni, Director of Private Medical Licensing Department at the MoH, said that all new candidates who apply for the qualifying examinations as well as those who want to renew their existing practicing licences can submit their documents online.
“Issuance or renewal of licences or renewal of suspended licences for medical establishments, hospitals and clinics also will be processed through the online interface. Similar procedures are applied for services including change of name or location and expanding the scope of services and type of medical establishment,” he added.
Speaking at the MoH stand at the Arab Health 2011, Dr Al Zarouni noted, “Apart from the previous procedures, submitting all documents manually at the MoH office by the candidates or the companies for evaluation, the documents can be uploaded to the new interface creating a user ID at the MoH website.
“The central licensing administration office will send confirmation acknowledgement to the applicants by email, once the documents have been received. The verification procedures and exam schedules also will be emailed. The candidates can collect their evaluated documents between two weeks to a month from the MoH office,” he elaborated.
“After the administrative office audits, fees collection and review of the documents for any missing information, the applications will be forwarded to the licensing committee for final approval,” he said.
According to Dr Al Zarouni, the smart documentation is an innovative imitative using the latest technology for the highest protection of documents and exchange of information in a faster way with various systems.
“The smart documentation also provides the applicants with a smart chip that has a storage facility to store the information after encryption. By using a special desktop reader or writer device, the applicant can verify the stored information on the certificates,” he added.
“The candidates and companies can ensure information easy and fast on the evaluated certificates and documents for medical permits. The MoH will store the documents in its centralised digital document archiving system in a standard universal format.”

New healthcare facility design standards for capital

The Gulf Today, 26 Jan 2011

THE healthcare regulator in the capital emirate of Abu Dhabi has set up new requirements to prevent medical errors caused by inappropriate design and construction of healthcare facilities.
The healthcare facility design standards were launched on Tuesday at Arab Health Congress 2011 in Dubai, focusing on specific conditions for construction and design of hospitals, clinics and other health facilities in the emirate.
The new standards are a comprehensive tool that all future healthcare facilities as well as currently refurbished ones need to comply with the norms to obtain or renew their licences, said a senior official at the Health Authority – Abu Dhabi (HAAD).
Adeeb Al Zaabi, the manager of Health Facility Licensing Department at the Haad, said: “The design consultants for healthcare facilities are required to be pre-qualified in accordance with the standards before submitting such projects for licensing applications at the Haad.”
“The new standards provide indepth information and ready-to-use standard components for the briefing and design of healthcare facilities at no cost,” he added.
“As the standards aim at improving medical outcomes and minimising errors caused by inappropriate facility designs, owners and management of healthcare facilities should also have to be familiar with the conditions as they engage consultants and embark on new projects,” elaborated Al Zaabi.
According to him, it’s a step towards improving the knowledge base for the health care industry.
“Administrative provisions of the new requirements outline the licensing process for healthcare facilities and the prequalification process for design consultants. The clauses also specify on architectural planning, ergonomics, occupational health and safety, infection control and prevention. The building construction also should be environment-friendly to control temperature and humidity,” he elaborated.
“The facilities will be inspected after evaluating the applications by the healthcare facility licensing officials,” said Al Zaabi.
Aladin Niazmand, the global director of TAHPI, Health Facility Planning Specialist, said that the requirements have been drafted and match with the health facilities that reflect current health care functions and procedures in a safe and appropriate environment.
“Apart from the typical proscriptive building regulation, the standards provide knowledge in the specialised area of healthcare briefing, design and construction. It educates and guides, provides terminology and tools, offers ready-made standard components, encourages further innovation and it is locally aware and regionally sensitive,” he added.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Trucks require permit to enter waste disposal sites in Dubai

20 Jan 2011, The Gulf Today

Solid waste transporting trucks should obtain a special permit to enter disposal sites in Dubai, starting from the beginning of February, announced civic authorities.
The waste management department at Dubai Municipality (DM) has started issuing special permits for the entry of such vehicles to the disposal sites in the emirate.
AbdulMajeed Saifaie, director of the department, said that the regulations aimed at ensuring a clean and sustainable environment in the city through implementing integrated waste management especially with issues of solid waste disposal.
"All vehicles carrying construction and demolition waste materials should proceed to the municipal waste disposal site in Al Bayada," he added.
Saifaie confirmed, "Any vehicle that has not obtained the permit from the Municipality waste management department for transporting general waste and does not carry the sticker will not be allowed to enter the landfill in the emirate of Dubai, starting from Feb.1."
Rashed Karkain, head of Technical Support and Studies Section at the Department, elaborated, "The new permitting system will ensure the usability of proper vehicles for safe transportation of waste, in addition to enabling the Municipality for a more effective and efficient operation of landfills."
"Comprehensive statistics on the quantity and types of solid waste production in the Emirate also can be drafted through the permitting system," he added.
According to Karkain, the system will help to properly and strategically plan any future sustainable and innovative waste management system that Dubai may require.
"Sustainable waste management practices such as reducing waste and encouraging recycling programmes will preserve the environment and ensure public health safety," he noted.
"It aims to cover establishments operating in the field of collection, transport and trade of waste materials and controlling practices and activities not licenced by the Municipality, and will focus on stopping environmental and health abuses and violations such as unsafe waste disposal," he added.
"The regulation is based on local Order No. 7 for the year 2002 on waste disposal sites and the Local Order 11 of 2003 and the Technical Guidance 1 issued by the Technical Support and Studies Section of Waste Management Department and other regulatory procedures for the sustainable management of waste in the emirate," Karkain explained.

UAE launches single infant vaccination for 6 diseases

20 Jan 2011, The Gulf Today

The UAE Ministry of Health (MoH) on Wednesday introduced a nationwide infant immunisation programme, in which six vaccines for different diseases have been combined together into one single shot of injection to be administered at two months of age.
The one-time injection will maximise the immunisation coverage from six types of diseases including Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis, Haemophilus Influenza Type-B, Hepatitis B and Poliomyelitis, said a senior MoH official at a vaccination training programme in Sharjah.
Dr Mahmoud Fikri, assistant undersecretary for Health Policies at the MoH, indicated that infants across the country will be provided with the six-in-one hexavalent vaccine from February onwards at primary health centres or community and preventive medicine facilities of the ministry.
"The UAE is the first country in the Gulf region to introduce the combined infants' vaccination programme. The private sector hospitals and clinics should follow the ministry initiative of combined vaccination as part of the national immunisation programme 2011," he added.
"With simplicity of administration or improved compliance and effectiveness, the free-of-charge combined vaccination reduces the anxiety of parents as it lessens pain felt by babies, while it provides the same degree of protection from the diseases," elaborated Dr Fikri.
Sheikh Mohammed Bin Saqr Al Qasimi, director of Sharjah Medical District, said that the workshop has been conducted for the vaccination staff members of the public sector across the seven Emirates to give them hands-on training on the methods of storage, preparing and administering the combined vaccine.
"It also focused on updating their knowledge on the new vaccine based on modern scientific developments and recommendations of the World Health Organisation (WHO)," he added.
"The workshop also highlighted the methods of dealing with mothers and creating awareness among them on the national vaccination programme," said Al Qasimi.
Dr Ibrahim Al Qadi, director of Preventive Medicine Department at the MoH, said that the programme is continuously reviewed and updated to cope with the advances in the field of immunology.
"As the hexavalent vaccine provides protection against six diseases with one single injection, it reduces the number of visits to the health centres," he added.
According to him, it makes easier for the mothers to complete all scheduled immunisations on time without delays.
Dr Gamil M Tourky, technical director of Preventive Medicine in Sharjah, said that the NIP chart for the details of childhood vaccination until five years of age would be modified in accordance with the new vaccine programme.
"The hexavalent vaccine, which is being introduced in different phases, will replace the second and third doses of Pentavalent vaccine which is administered at end of the fourth and sixth month. This will happen when the oral polio vaccine is replaced by the intramuscular, injectable polio vaccine which is incorporated in the hexavalent vaccine," Dr Tourky elaborated.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Newborns in UAE to be screened for 16 types of diseases

14 Jan 2011, The Gulf Today

Newborn babies in the UAE will hereafter be screened for 16 types of genetic disorders, according to Ministry of Health (MoH) stipulations that came into effect on Thursday.
The screening was limited to five diseases earlier. A ministry official revealed that the national newborn screening programme will include 30 checkups from the next year onwards.
The national newborn screening programme, aimed at protecting children from genetic diseases, is part of the department’s strategy since 1995, as the early screening and treatment can save the lives of newborn babies and decrease the mortality rates.
Dr Hajar Al Hosani, Director of Maternity and Childhood Central Administration at the MoH, said that an advanced technology, named TMS system, has been introduced in the ministry’s screening programmes.
“The system discovers most defects related to amino acids, fatty and organic acids causing disabilities or mortalities of the newborns, if not detected at the early stages and treated properly,” she added.
Al Hosani revealed that that the national newborn screening programme conducted checkups for 670,000 newborn babies between 2005 and 2010. The programme has so far covered about 98 per cent of the newborn babies in all the ministry’s hospitals.
“During this period, about 340 cases of thyroid gland deficiencies have been discovered in newborn babies. About 223 Mangolian anemia and 32 congenital disorders were found in 2010, as the actual participation of the infants reached at 95 per cent in the year,” she elaborated.
“The newborn baby screening programme, since 1995, managed to protect 645 children from dangerous genetic diseases that may cause mental retardation and death,” she said.
According to Al Hosani, the GCC initial statistics showed that metabolic diseases occur at a rate of one baby per 1,000 births and can be discovered by the TMS system.
“The disorder, transmitted from parents to their children, causes various disabilities and death at a rate of three per cent. Even some healthy children may carry the disease like their parents. Such transmission is called recessive hereditary condition that inherited genes from both parents,” she said.
“Possible recurrence of the disease may occur with 25 per cent during the mother’s pregnancy while possible non-re infection is 75 per cent,” she added.
She advised parents to make pre-marital check-up to certify that they are free from the disease and ensure their children might not be affected with it. The parents should make these checkups for their newborn babies regularly.
“Samples are taken from the newborn, after 48 hours of birth, inside the maternity centre of each medical district. All tests are taken through a very small drop of blood via baby’s heel pick leaving the blood to dry in a special place. The test is simple and not harmful to children,” explained Al Hosani.
“International quality standards are implemented in the programme under the supervision of the NEQAS programme, which is applied in Birmingham, UK since 1998. The World Health Organisation also has approved the programme,” she noted.