Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Ras Al Khaimah gears up for 2nd annual Terry Fox Run

23 Feb 2011, The Gulf Today

THE second edition of annual RAK Terry Fox Run will be staged at the Ras Al Khaimah Corniche on March 4, aimed at raising funds for cancer research in the UAE. 
The RAK Terry Fox Run is the newest of the four Terry Fox Runs in the UAE and the inaugural run last year had been a tremendous success, organisers said.
Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member of the UAE and Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah will inaugurate the charity run, which will start off at 9am at the RAK Corniche near the Sheikh Zayed Mosque opposite the Al Safeer market area.
Kris Panday, Canadian Consul General in Dubai, said that the initiative will set the stage for a broader public participation this year to create awareness on a wider canvas and raise funds for cancer research programmes in the UAE. 
“The Terry Fox Run is a great example of how a community like in Ras Al Khaimah can work together towards a common goal and in this case it is about joining hands for a worthy cause of raising funds for cancer research,” he noted.
According to him, all the proceeds from this year’s run will be donated to the UAE University Hospital in Al Ain where a number of ongoing and impressive cancer research projects are being conducted. 
Jane Shaw, Member of the RAK Terry Fox Organising Committee, said the event will feature a five kilometre distance aimed at runners and joggers and a three kilometre distance for adults, children and families to walk, run, and skateboard or rollerblade, jog or even push the baby stroller in this non-competitive event.
“The track is accessible for wheelchairs. However pets and bikes are not allowed due to safety reasons. The registration procedures and submission of sponsorship forms will begin at 7.30am on March 4,” she added.
“Numerous institutions, schools, government departments, social organisations and private establishments in the emirate have already extended significant support for the charity run. About 1200 people are expected to take part in the run, which will be a fun-filled day for families and residents,” elaborated Shaw.
“The scenic setting at the RAK Corniche will provide a wonderful backdrop for the Friday morning event. The funds are being raised either through direct donations or by individual sponsorship sheets available online at,” she said.
“We are currently arranging presentations on Terry Fox at various schools and educational institutions to promote the charity run,” she added.
Shaw urged the public to contact the committee via email at or get updates through the online platform RAK Terry Fox Run group on Facebook.
Terry Fox was a young Canadian amputee who attempted to run across Canada in 1980 to raise awareness on the need for more money and effort to be given to cancer research. 
Sadly, Terry's bone cancer returned during his run and he died shortly after at the age of just 22. His dream to further cancer research, however, lives on and Terry Fox Runs are held around the world every year to bring communities together to raise money for cancer research.
According to, about $500 million has been raised to date worldwide for cancer research in Terry's name.
The inaugural RAK Terry Fox Run held last year had attracted around 700 participants and collected over Dhs65,000 in funds.

Dubai Municipality makes green wheels shift

23 Feb 2011, The Gulf Today

VEHICLES belonging to Dubai Municipality (DM) will soon hit the roads powered by natural gas. This move is expected once all the phases of the civic body’s comprehensive plan is completed to switch to a fuel that causes less negative impact on the environment. 
Aimed at reducing the CO2 emissions from vehicles, the municipality on Tuesday launched the first phase of its project converting five of its vehicles to natural gas usage.
Hussain Nasser Lootah, director general of the DM, said the initiative will achieve significant environmental benefits by reducing the rate of carbon emissions by 70 per cent in each vehicle when using natural gas.
“The project will be implemented in several stages. During the second phase, commercial vehicles and medium-sized vehicles such as pickups, numbering around 438 vehicles, will be included, provided that natural gas is available through our partners,” he added.
Lootah pointed out that the project entails economic benefits — achieving around Dhs2.3m a year in estimated fuel savings in the event of 400 vehicles taking to the new fuel.
“The DM has become the first government body in the Emirate in converting its vehicles to natural gas. The initiative will preserve the environment by reducing the negative impacts of the traditional fuel used in vehicles,” he added.
Humaid Al Marri, director of Transportation Department at the DM, vouching for natural gas, said it is lighter than air and in case of leakage it is vapourised in the atmosphere, emphasising that it is non-toxic. 
“The conversion of the vehicles to natural gas, require approvals to be obtained from authorities concerned. The components and elements of technical parts will be used according to the technical specifications and requirements of the transportation,” he added.
According to Al Marri, the natural gas is widely used currently in major countries as it is one of the environmentally-friendly resources.
“The total number of vehicles operating with natural gas around the world amounts to more than three million vehicles in as many as 60 countries. Some of the manufacturers of vehicles have begun manufacturing vehicles that operate on natural gas as it is most abundant and widespread than crude oil,” he elaborated.
“The use of natural gas is considered one of the most secure sources to use as this system was tested by the approved bodies for leakage of gas and strong frame with standard specifications will be placed around the gas cylinder for its protection in the event of any accident,” he noted.
Al Marri continued, “The screw valve on the cylinder closes automatically in the case of pressure becoming lower than the specified level as a result of any leak within the system. In the case of an accident it opens automatically like a repellent gas valve and as a safety gas evaporates in the atmosphere.”
“The gas cylinders can withstand pressure up to 350 lb/inch as the operating pressure is 220 lb/inch,” he concluded.

Abu Dhabi reopens fresh local produce outlets

23 Feb 2011, The Gulf Today

THE Abu Dhabi Farmers’ Services Centre (ADFSC) has reopened three outlets of fresh local produce in Liwa, Al Sila and Al Muroor areas, bringing the total number of such outlets currently functional to five.
The ADFSC will reopen all 23 outlets during the current year, to further strengthen the Emirate’s agricultural sector by promoting local produce and improving national food security, according to a top official.
The UAE’s founding father, the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, had established the fresh local produce stores 25 years ago aimed at selling high quality fresh food varieties at affordable prices for the residents in Abu Dhabi.
Christopher Hirst, CEO of the ADFSC indicated that the reopened outlets constitute the first phase of a comprehensive programme, comprising a wide network of 23 stores across the Emirate.
“The stores have recommenced trading after the completion of extensive maintenance work. The remaining stores are presently under renovation and will be reopened during the current year. The other two stores that are now functional are located at Al Mina and the Delma Island, the former being a temporary one,” he added.
“The reopening of the centres marked a crucial phase in the ADFSC’s efforts at enhancing the market share of local farming produce. Restoration of this service under the ADFSC will help local farmers market their produce effectively and profitably,” Hirst elaborated.
According to him, the consumers will also benefit substantially since the centres will supply locally-sourced quality produce at affordable prices,” he said.
Mohamed Jalal Al Reyaysa, director of Communication and Community Service at the Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority (ADFCA), said the local products in the markets guarantee better food security. 
“Several tests carried out by our laboratories confirmed that local vegetables and fruits are on par with the best imported products in terms of quality and nutrition. Besides, they are fresher than imported products, as the time gap between production and sale is considerably less. Moreover, they have an edge over others in terms of price” he pointed out.
Earlier this month, the ADFCA had called upon all trade centres and sales outlets selling vegetables and fruits to strengthen the sale and marketing of local farm products.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Three years see 52,211 premarital health screenings in UAE

22 Feb 2011, The Gulf Today

HUNDREDS of UAE residents who underwent mandatory premarital medical examinations during the last three years were found suffering from various genetic disorders, infectious diseases and other health risks, revealed the health ministry on Monday.
A total of 52,211 screenings were conducted for nine types of infectious and genetic diseases since the law on premarital screening and counselling was made mandatory by the Ministry of Health (MoH) in 2008, a top health official said.
However, the health ministry was reluctant to reveal statistics on the people who are suffering from contagious infections or genetic disorders found during the compulsory medical examinations for the couples.
Dr Muna Al Kawari, director of Central Primary Healthcare Department at the MoH, said that about 14,368 medical screenings were conducted in the initial year 2008 and 19,285 in 2009, while the number of tests decreased to 18,558 last year.
“The medical examinations for the  infectious and genetic diseases are conducted at primary health centres in Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah,” she added.
According to her, the integrated premarital medical examination is aimed at eradicating risks of transmitting such genetic diseases from parents-to-offspring or spreading infectious diseases between partners.
“The infectious and sexually transmitted diseases that come under the screening procedures include HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and Syphilis and the tests for inherited blood disorders include blood grouping and RH factor, Beta Thalassaemia, Sickle Cell Anaemia and Hermoglobinopathies, as well as German Measles (Rubella) immunity status,” said Dr Al Kawari.
“The premarital testing will prevent about 60 per cent of congenital anomalies and about 100 per cent of common inherited blood disorders like Thalassaemia and Sickle Cell Anaemia, in addition to preventing the spread of sexually transmitted diseases to the partner,” she indicated.
“The tests also reduce mother-to-child transmission of some infectious diseases that might lead to congenital anomalies or mental retardation and in some cases death,” she added.
The UAE citizens have to pay Dhs100 and expatriates Dhs250 to undergo the compulsory premarital screening and counselling and the investigation report is ready within a week.
According to the information provided by the MoH, the report of Arab Centre for Genetic Studies revealed in 2007 that the number of hereditary diseases in the UAE reached to 240 diseases of which 82 diseases result from consanguineous marriages.
“About 50 per cent of the marriages in the country are consanguineous, out of which 26 per cent are first degree marriages. Hereditary blood diseases are the most common among genetic disorders in the UAE community,” it said.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Mothers to receive immunisation alerts in UAE

18 Feb 2011, The Gulf Today

The Ministry of Health (MoH) has launched new mechanism to provide real-time information on vaccination schedules online to UAE residents located in any part of the world.
A top MoH official said that new mothers would be alerted by e-mail and SMS services about the due date of immunisation vaccinations for their babies. 
Dr Ebrahim Al Qadi, Central Preventive Medicine Department at the MoH, said, “The patients register with the new online vaccination tracking system and obtain ID numbers, update and view their personal details.”
“The online system will keep tabs on the completed and the future immunisation jabs for the children,” he added.
“The vaccinations are free of charge at government hospitals and clinics. However, the private sector health facilities are permitted to charge fees from patients, based on costs incurred on the procedures,” Dr Al Qadi pointed out.
According to him, the clinics authorised to provide the vaccinations in the public and private sectors will be linked electronically.
“The private healthcare centres will be permitted to offer the compulsory vaccinations only if they meet the ministry’ requirements such as setting up proper storage facilities, implementation of adequate safety guidelines and system for vaccination follow-ups,” noted Dr Al Qadi.
“The online system will cover three vaccination courses under the national immunisation programme. Patients will be able to find out information online about different vaccines, and the level of immunisation they require, he added.

Al Qaraen Health centre to serve 70,000 residents

18 Feb 2011, The Gulf Today

As many as 70,000 residents living in Sharjah’s Al Qaraen residential area and nighbouring localities Al Badee, Saijaan, Al Rahmanyia and Al Bataeh will now be able to enjoy global standards in healthcare services within their reach. 
The Al Qaraen Health Centre is the newest in the list of public sector health facilities that the ministry has been developing to meet the increasing need of  Sharjah population, said a top official at the Ministry of Health (MoH). 
Dr Hanif Hassan Ali Al Qassim, the UAE Minister for Health, opened Al Qaraen Health Centre in Sharjah on Wednesday. 
Sheikh Mohammed Bin Saqer Al Qassimi, director of Sharjah Medical Zone said the centre is expected to contribute to the mechanism to meet the escalating requirements for provision of healthcare services in accordance with the growth of population. 
“The health centre is equipped to provide a variety of high quality medical services, including general treatment and health education services under one umbrella to all residents and school students living in the area,” he added. 
“The services available at the centre range from normal blood test procedures to pre-marital examinations and vaccinations, and dental treatment to mammogram tests for early breast cancer detection,” pointed out Al Qassimi. 
“The health centre has been built in a total area of 1425.25 square metres, with a service building spanning over 51.80 square metres, in addition to other general facilities.”
“The health centre has eight consultation rooms, two treatment rooms and two dental clinics, radiology and laboratory departments, pharmacy, registration area for patients and other amenities,” he elaborated. 
According to him, the centre is also equipped with medical and operational equipment, and 32 professionals from various medical and technical specialisations. 
“The centre had been operational on a trial basis since June 1, 2011, and during the six months about 4716 patients visited the facility. About 371 patients, out of the total visitors, underwent dental treatment and 1459 consulted for other diseases,” noted Al Qassimi. 
Dr Hanif Hassan said, “Among the several new health facilities announced to open in the Northern Emirates this year, three primary healthcare centres have been slated to open in Nizwa, Al Batayeh and Shees areas of Sharjah.” 
“The ministry is developing a number of health facilities either through renovation or construction of new primary healthcare centres or hospitals, equipped with the latest medical supplies and equipment of international standards to ensure quality medical services provided to the UAE citizens and residents,” he indicated. 
“A wide range of strategies are also being implemented focusing on continuous medical training and provision of advanced technologies to health facilities to ensure global standard medical practices,” he added. 
Dr Salem Abdul Rahman Al Darmaki, acting undersecretary of the MoH, said, “Currently, the ministry is planning to unveil three hospitals, worth Dhs279 million, in the Northern Emirates. The health facilities, handed over to the ministry last year, are expected to open this year.” 
“Another hospital also will be handed over to the Ministry of Health by the Ministry of Public Works this year,” he said.
Besides, five more hospital projects are under construction at an estimated investment of up to Dhs1.25 billion,” he added.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Fizz fuss: ‘No alcohol content in Coke’

17 Feb 2011, The Gulf Today

A top official of the Dubai Municipality (DM) has ruled out any possibility of alcohol content in Coca Cola sold in Dubai and the UAE market.
He was responding to international media reports claiming that Coca Cola’s tightly-guarded recipe had been leaked out and that it contained certain percentage of alcohol, among a number of other ingredients, in the secret flavour formula.
The fuss about the fizz oozed out after the recipe was reportedly published by National Public Radio’s ‘This American Life’ earlier this week.
Khalid Mohammed Shareef, director of Food Control Department at the DM told The Gulf Today over the phone that there was no alchoholic content in Coke sold in the UAE. 
“The regulations mandate that ingredients should be declared on label and it’s always verified and tested when required,” he added.
“The country has got sufficient mechanisms to ensure that all food items consumed by the residents are safe and free from all prohibited ingredients,” Shareef indicated.
“No alcoholic content was found out in our lab tests in the beverage. The food testing laboratories in the country are operating at the highest global standards, also networked with the all the labs across the world,” he confirmed.
No representative of the Coca Cola in Dubai was available for comments.
But Western media quoted Coca Cola spokesperson Kerry Tressler as saying: “Many third parties have tried to crack our secret formula. Try as they might, they have been unsuccessful because there is only one real thing.”

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Painkillers develop peptic ulcer bleeding, warns expert

9 Feb 2011, The Gulf Today

EXCESSIVE use of painkillers for joint and bone diseases leads to increased incidences of peptic ulcer bleed (PUB) in the UAE, warns an expert.
The PUB is a common and potentially life-threatening complication of peptic ulcer disease.
Compared to similar cases across the world, the percentage in the UAE is high as it is a multicultural country.
Dr Saeed Al Shaikh, a Gastroenterologist at Dubai Healthcare City and Welcare Hospital, has called for regular general checkups to treat gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and the PUB diseases in the emirates.
Speaking at a medical symposium organised by AstraZeneca Gulf, Dr Shaikh warned that that if not treated properly, the GERD could lead to serious complications, such as inflammation, narrowing of throat, ulcers and bleeding. “The PUB is a major development of stomach ulcers, and it occurs in all ages, especially in older people who excessively use painkillers for bone and joint diseases. It is common in the UAE as it is in other parts of the world, especially amongst elderly and ladies,” Dr Al Shaikh pointed out.
Professor Ernst Kuipers, chair of Gastroenterology, Herpetology and Internal Medicine Departments at Erasmus University Medical Centre in Netherlands, elaborated that a peptic ulcer is a deep and sharply demarcated break in the lining of the stomach.
“Currently, approximately 20 per cent of patients with the PUB may experience a re-bleed even after endoscopic treatment. Such patients are at a three-fold risk of death,” he said.
“When the disease is in the stomach it is described as a gastric ulcer and when in the duodenum (the part of the small intestine between the stomach and the jejunum) its called a duodenal ulcer. The PUB occurs when the ulcer erodes into an underlying blood vessel. In Europe, the PUB affects approximately 50 people per 100,000 people every year,” Kuipers added.
“Patients in most of the cases are not aware of the bleeding, which makes it more critical. They often see black excreta or black or dark red vomiting. If not treated, the PUB can cause death. In many cases, rebleeding occurs due to non-adherence to treatment or eating restricted foods,” he noted.
According to Kuipers, upto 15 per cent of the patients die as a result of the severe condition all over the world.
“Continuous usage of painkillers damages the superficial layer of the stomach that bleeds when the damage becomes bigger and deeper,” he revealed.
Dr Fadel Shaker, the medical manager AstraZeneca Gulf, said that until now there has not been an approved pharmacological treatment to reduce the risk of rebleeding after endoscopic treatment.
“Newly introduced Esomeprazole medication for the treatment of heartburn and other symptoms associated with gastroesophageal acid reflux (GERD) and the PUB has been approved by health authorities in Europe and the UAE,” he added.
“The medicines prevents peptic ulcer rebleeding in adults and fills a significant gap to manage the PUB after endoscopic treatment,” he pointed out.
According to him, it’s the first proton pump inhibitor (PPI) to be indicated in the UAE and Europe for prevention of rebleeding following therapeutic endoscopy for acute bleeding gastric or duodenal ulcers.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

42% air pollution in Dubai caused by vehicles

7 Feb 2011, The Gulf Today

THE transport sector contributes about 42 per cent of air pollution in Dubai, and the carbon dioxide emission per vehicle varies from 110 to 250 g/km, revealed Dubai Municipality on Sunday.
From the total air pollution, over 82 per cent comes from car petrol emissions alone. This is in addition to the tens of thousands of other vehicles that enter the city from other emirates.
The figures were revealed by the civic body while announcing the second edition of “Car-Free Day”, which will be staged on Feb.9. Hundreds of civic employees will be leaving their cars at home and taking public transport to work.
According to the figures made available in 2009, there were 1,021,880 vehicles in Dubai and they emit 23,34,762 kg carbon dioxide per day.
Hussain Nasser Lootah, director general of the DM, announced the environmental initiative designed to cut the number of vehicles on Dubai roads.
“This year more local departments will join more than 1,500 employees in the municipality headquarters and the nearby offices in using only public transport modes to reach their offices,” he added.
“Other participating government departments included the Land Department, Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Etisalat and the Roads and Transport Authority. All the staff may use public buses, the Metro or water taxis, encouraging the residents to consider alternative transport means for their daily destinations,” Lootah elaborated.
“The private buses that the DM uses to take some of its employees to offices will be left in the garage, and municipal car parks will be closed. We want to encourage the local community to care for their city the best way, by reducing the number of vehicles,” he noted.
According to him, the inaugural edition of the Car-Free Day saved the environment from three tonnes of carbon dioxide emission as more than 1,000 vehicles of employees did not reach the municipality. This is in addition to the vehicles of the DM customers.
“More environmental benefits are expected to be achieved this year from the participation of other government departments in practicing sustainable environmental behaviours and reducing the emission of carbon dioxide that pollute the air,” said the chief of municipality.
He added that the DM will release a detailed report about the result of the initiative. “The study will include the statistics about the volume of carbon dioxide emission reduced due to the initiative by calculating the number of participants and the kind of vehicles they use.”
“The kilometres to be saved per employee may vary as the employees travel daily to the DM offices from different locations,” he said.
Lootah urged the residents to take responsibility for the protection of the environment.
Lootah said the civic body decided to adopt the Car Free Day concept as it facilitates a number of steps that enhance the opportunities for achieving sustainable urban transport, followed by enhanced air quality in the urban area as well as reduction in carbon dioxide emission, which is considered to be a hot gas that causes climate change.
As per the DM’s 2009 statistics, there are 841,444 petrol cars that account for 82.34 per cent of Dubai’s total number of vehicles. The daily CO2 emission from these cars is estimated at 19,221,893kg. About 21,852 petrol trucks come in second place at 2.14 per cent with 499,186kg of CO2 emission.
“While 75,231 diesel cars of the city produce 1,718,572kg of CO2 daily at 7.36 per cent, and 2,456 diesel trucks emit 56,105kg of CO2 at 0.24 per cent, 22,481 diesel buses emit 513,555kg CO2 per day at 2.20 per cent, 24,435 heavy diesel trucks emit 558,192kg CO2 at 2.39 per cent, 18,653 heavy diesel buses emit 426,108kg CO2 at 1.83 per cent and 15,328 petrol motorcycles emit 350,152kg CO2 at 1.50 per cent.”

Sewage system now covers the entire Dubai

18 Jan 2011, The Gulf Today

A number of newly developed areas in Dubai, including locations around Sheikh Zayed Road, Business Bay, Dubai Marina and Aweer have been linked to the main sewage network of the city.
Dubai Municipality (DM) says that the delivery of sewerage services has been ensured in the entire areas of the city with the completion of the several new projects, including the establishment of a giant sewage water treatment plant at Jebel Ali at an estimated cost of Dhs1.55 billion.
Talib Julfar, the director of Drainage and Irrigation Department at the DM, said that new plant, second phase of which was completed in 2010, would be the main sewage treatment plant for the city in place of the current Al Aweer plant.
“An odour treatment plant was also set up to prevent emission of unpleasant stench affecting the surrounding areas,” he added.
“The waste water treatment plant, spanning over an area of 670 hectares of land, has a capacity of processing 300,000 cubic metres per day, 150,000 cubic metres for each phase,” elaborated Julfar.
“Giant sewage pumping stations and pipelines, including a project at an estimated cost of Dhs580 million have been set up to transfer sewage from DubaiÕs different areas to the plant and transfer treated irrigation water to various locations in the city,” he noted.
According to him, the project includes a solid waste treatment plant, which produces fertiliser as a source of economic return from the treatment processes.
“Another sewage pumping station and pumping lines at a cost Dhs191 million has also been completed with a pumping capacity of 2,000 litres per second. The third sewage water pumping station and pumping lines was constructed within a period of two years at an estimated cost of Dhs586 million.”
“The new pumping station near Arabian Ranches Roundabout has a pumping capacity of 9,600 litres per second. Several irrigation projects have been implemented to deliver potable water for irrigation from the new main sewage treatment plant at Jebel Ali,” said Julfar.
“The drainage and irrigation department could cover all the green areas in Dubai through a Dhs258 million project of extending a treated irrigation water line from the main treatment plant,” he added.
Another project of the similar nature was completed recently at a cost Dhs310 million, including a pumping station located at the Dubai-Al Ain road for the delivery of irrigation water until the Jebel AliÐAl Hebab intersection.
“A project for the main irrigation lines to Aweer farms was completed recently at a cost of Dhs103 million, covering an area of 1,346 hectares with a pumping capacity of 500 litres per second,” Julfar noted.
“The project for main irrigation lines on Dubai Bypass Road was completed recently at a cost of Dhs60 million. It includes construction of 12,100 metres long irrigation pipeline network with 1,400mm diameter,” he added.
“The project aims to use treated water for irrigation purposes in the projects developed along the line, as well as improve the pressure in the old network and the estimated capacity is 135,000 cubic metres per day,” concluded Julfar.

Over 1 million animals vaccinated in 2010 in UAE

31 Jan 2011, The Gulf Today

About 1,129,146 animals have been vaccinated across the UAE during the year 2010, said a spokesperson from the Ministry of Environment and Water (MoEW).
A senior official said that the ministry's strategic objective is to strengthen the country's food safety with highest global standards by increasing levels of bio-security through measures like preventing transmission of epidemic diseases through vaccinations.
Sultan Abdullah Bin Alwan, executive cirector for Agricultural and Veterinary Affairs at the MoEW, said that the vaccine shots have been administered on livestock including sheep, goats, cows and other cattle at farms.
"The MoEW wants to bring down the rate of communicable diseases affecting livestock, and raise vital safety measures for preventing various biological risks and epidemic diseases from affecting the community," he added.
Sumayya Abdul Rahim al Rais, director of the Animal and Plants Health Department at the MoEW, said, "An animal is administered shots of vaccines 10 times during the year for protection from further infection occurrences. Providing them with minerals, vitamins and medicinal supplements is also included in the service."
"The vaccination programme covers various infectious diseases such as foot-and-mouth ailments, lung infections, blood poisoning, intestinal diseases and other contagious infections with purulent skin eruptions," she added.
"Tuberculosis, brucellosis and zoonosis are the major deadly diseases transmitted to human beings from infected animals. The fatal diseases enter the human body by ingestion of meat and non-sterilised milk of the infected animals, or by close contact with secretions of the animals," she elaborated.
According to her, the epidemic of foot-mouth-disease (FMD) has emerged due to a fast-spreading virus that infects cloven-hoofed animals including cows, sheep, goats and deer.
The ministry said it has provided free veterinary medicines to the clinics in various parts of the country. The medicines include antibiotics, anti-internal and external parasites and disinfectants.
The MoEW also called for livestock breeders to report cases of illness to the nearest veterinary clinic or the ministry's

Waste recycling project on anvil for Nothern Emirates

8 Feb 2011, The Gulf Today

THE UAE Ministry of Environment and Water (MoEW) has announced on Monday plans to implement an integrated solid waste recycling project for the Northern Emirates.
The project, to be carried out in tandem with the Ministry of Public Works, is excepted to commence by mid-year, after a primary study on the solid waste generated in the emirates of Ajman, Ras Al Khaimah, Umm Al Quwain and Fujairah is conducted.
Dr Ahmed Rashid Bin Fahad, the Minister of Environment and Water, told The Gulf Today that according to currently available statistics, the Northern Emirates generate about 30 million tonnes of solid waste per year.
“The project will effectively resolve issues related to the massive amount of waste by establishing environmentally-friendly recycling plants in these Emirates,” he added.
“The project will begin, once the primary study on the waste processing and recycling mechanism is completed and approved by the UAE Ministerial Council for Services,” said Dr Fahad.
“The conceptual study will last for three months at an initial cost of up to Dhs2.5 million,” he revealed.
Fareed Al Katheeri, director of the Technical Studies Department at the Ministry of Public Works, said that the study will look into the possibility of finding appropriate solutions to the problem of waste and the feasibility of implementing the project.
“The present waste production will also be surveyed, in addition to analysing and evaluating the existing systems for waste management. The study will focus on the concepts of waste materials segregation from the source to the disposal levels,” he added.
According to Dr Fahad, the project will be implemented in partnership with both the public and private sector establishments, in order to achieve sustainable development in the Northern Emirates.
“The ministry prepared a field study in 2008 to assess the waste management services at the state level, in wake of the constant increase in the quantities of waste. The survey showed disparity in waste management services across the country and poor infrastructures in the Northern Emirates,” he pointed out.
“If the process of waste disposal in the Emirates is not controlled effectively on a sustainable ground, it will pose large threats to public health, the environment and the biodiversity of the country. Proper planning to create an integrated system for sustainable waste management would only reduce the harmful impacts of waste,” elaborated the minister.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

No minimum wage structure yet for migrant Lankan workers

3 Feb 2011, The Gulf Today

The Sri Lanka government has not taken any firm decision on fixing a minimum wage limit for its workers in the UAE, according to the newly-appointed chief of Sri Lankan mission in Dubai.
However, a set of standards have been formulated by the authorities which stipulate unskilled workers and domestic helpers to take up jobs if they are offered a minimum Dhs850 to work in the UAE or equal remuneration in other Gulf countries.
MM Abdul Raheem, Consul General of Sri Lanka in Dubai and Northern Emirates told The Gulf Today that Sri Lankan employment agencies also are required to follow the criteria while recruiting housemaids and domestic helpers from the island.
"The minimum wage structure for the migrant workers has not yet been developed as a bilateral pact to implement it officially, as Indian government and missions in the UAE has recently proposed a hike in the minimum wages for its workforce. The decision on a minimum wage structure cannot be taken arbitrarily," he said.
"We encourage the unskilled workforce from the island not to opt for a job that pays them less than Dhs850 or its equivalent. Meanwhile, there's a huge influx of skilled workers from Sri Lanka to the Emirates engaging in a wide range of vocations. Wage limit for such workers depend on their contract with employment providers," he added.
The Sri Lankan community in the UAE will celebrate their 63rd Independence Day, which is the second occasion after wiping out terrorism from the island, on Friday. MM Abdul Raheem, who took over as the mission chief on Jan 10, will hoist the Sri Lankan national flag at 8.45am at the Consulate, and will direct the celebration activities for the first time during his assignment in Dubai.
"The UAE is home to about 225,000 migrant Sri Lankan workers, out of which 190,000 expatriates are employed in Dubai and Northern Emirates. A significant majority of them are engaged in domestic helpers in the UAE, noted Raheem.
Speaking about rehabilitation of the Gulf returnees to Sri Lanka, Raheem elaborated, "The Sri Lankan labour ministry is addressing the issue by providing them support with local opportunities in different local sectors such as garment manufacturing, fisheries, tourism and related self-employment possibilities."
"Local opportunities have been doubled in the Sri Lanka's post terrorism eradication era, which witnesses escalating prospects in the tourism sphere. The political stability has not only boosted the influx of tourists to the country, also increased interaction among citizens as mobility is ensured between North and North parts of the country," he elaborated.
"My assignments in Dubai include boosting bilateral trade relationship between Dubai and Sri Lanka, focusing on investment opportunities and promotion of tourism. The bilateral trade between the two countries has been estimated at about $550 million in 2010, out of which exports from Sri Lanka to the UAE only account for $215 million," he said.

Tele-boost to healthcare

2 Feb 2011, The Gulf Today

THE rapid growth in the information technology sphere and communication bandwidth has boosted an equally rapid development of clinical teleradiology in the UAE, according to a Dubai-based radiology expert.
Speaking to The Gulf Today, on the sidelines of the recently concluded Arab Health 2011, Dr Nawab Shafi ul Mulk, director of Global Hawk Telemedicine Services said that teleradiology exploits the latest of technological advancements by bringing radio diagnosis at the patients’ doorsteps.
Teleradiology is the future generation approach to medical information, allowing for transmission of patient radiological images (such as x-rays, CT scans, MRIs). It enables people to get second opinions from specialists in different countries and allows for improved patient outcomes.
The telemedical treatments can radically improve the condition of chronically ill patients, as well as of those who suffer from lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and cardiac disorders, explained Dr Mulk. The technology will provide them with quality of life and access to medical expertise round-the-clock from different parts of the world.
“The latest teleradiology technology makes patients’ medical data available anytime and anywhere in the world. Immediate online access to the patient’s radiological images and reports will make the service efficient and reduce delays in results,” he added.
Dr Mulk introduced teleradiology in the UAE for the first time a couple of years ago, through the channel of the USA Teleradiology Service Providers, networked with a comprehensive team of specialists and researchers worldwide.
The introduction of teleradiology advancements in the UAE’s healthcare sector facilitates early detection and treatment of diseases on a large scale, as clinics and hospitals can efficiently monitor the real-time status of examinations and results.
He said, “Patients in the UAE are provided with consultative radiological services with advanced medical imaging technology. Teleradiology is a compulsive modern tool for physicians to provide accurate diagnosis and treatment, as it can answer many needs within the medical community.”
“Improved quality of care, combined with rapid and accurate diagnosis at comparatively lower expense, is the advantage of the modern medical tool. It provides direct supervision of off-site imaging studies with reduced time spending for patients, facilitating them in maintaining improved their general health.”
“The telemedical services have been widely accepted in the USA, UK and many Western countries. In the UAE also, the number of patients depending on the medical service has been increasing since its inception,” he added.
“The global healthcare sphere faces a serious shortage of radiologists, as the imaging procedures are growing approximately by 15 per cent annually, against an increase of only two per cent in the population of radiologists. Teleradiology effectively contributes to resolve the healthcare industry’s crisis due to scarcity of experts,” Dr Mulk revealed.
He explained that as one of the benefits of the modern tool, teleradiology moves the patient’s information and not the patient. It has positive impacts on emergency neurosurgical care, by reducing the time for diagnosis and treatment of the patient, who needed to be transferred, by avoiding unnecessary transfers.
“In the event of medical emergencies or unexpected illnesses for people who are traveling by ship or have been moved far away from the land, the patient can seek medical aid of specialists from anywhere in the world through the telemedicine network,” he noted.
“The radiographic image files are electronically transmitted from one location to another through the teleradiology network. The technological advances in digital imaging, telecommunications, digital storage, and viewing technologies have made it readily available and reasonably affordable,” he said.
“Being able to review and interpret case studies without physical presence, teleradiology could increase efficiency of the procedures, simultaneously decreasing the chances of delay for completion of study. The report is archived in a comprehensive electronic medical record system,” Dr Mulk added.
According to him, wireless transmission portable viewers potentially improve the application of the procedures and accessibility to the teleradiology technology.
He said that the patients’ radiological images are stored in encrypted temporary storage on the Global Hawk Tele-radiology servers, making them available to the networked international sub-specialist radiologists, who review and provide highest quality specialty reports.
“In the orthopedic trauma application through the teleradiology, the consulting orthopedist at a remote location reviews the case to improve the diagnostic accuracy, and plans surgical procedures and outlays emergency departments of hospitals,” he pointed out.
According to him, the system improves the comfort level of the consulting orthopedic surgeons and limits the risk of litigation for incorrect diagnosis, having the radiographic images available on hand-held devices.
Dr Mulk is currently working on the launch of a mega project for a dozen super specialty centres, named as Global Hawk Imaging and Diagnostic Centres (GHIDC) across the region and other parts of the world.
“Eight centres will be opened in the next two years in the UAE, the KSA, Oman and Qatar. One centre will be set up in Malaysia and the other two are planned to establish in India’s Bangalore and Jaipur. The first imaging and diagnostic centre among the series will be operational soon in Jumeirah,” he said.