Yemeni doctor wins top international award

Dr Dhekra Annuzaili, from Sanaa, Yemen is the winner of the first ever Women in Focus Exceptional Service Award – a prestigious international accolade celebrating the crucial role women play in the ongoing fight against Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs).

The 49-year-old’s tireless work in Yemen made her a unanimous winner with the judging panel and she was invited to accept her trophy at a prominent awards ceremony in Geneva, Switzerland on 19 April.

Since graduating from medical school in 1991, in Yemen, Dr Dhekra has shown incredible commitment to her work on maternal and child health development, improving overall health and nutritional programmes across the country. Dr Dhekra moved to the field of NTDs, in 2009, specialising in Schistosomiasis Control. As a woman working in a country with one of the lowest rankings of gender equality in the world, Dr Dhekra has overcome extreme personal obstacles and yet her commitment to NTD control and in serving Yemen never wavered. With her support, Yemen’s National Schistosomiasis Control Program has made great strides towards controlling schistosomiasis and intestinal worms.

Dr Dhekra also works as an advisor on health and development issues for several agencies of the United Nations, USAID, World Bank and local NGOs in Yemen. Dr Dhekra was delighted with her award as it will help to highlight the issue of NTDs in Yemen. “I am thrilled to be the first recipient of this award and I am collecting it on behalf of all of the women working hard to fight NTDs in Yemen. My main aim is to reach children and contribute to the improvement of their overall health. It might sound strange, but I believe I’m lucky to be working in such a difficult field, under difficult conditions. It’s completely worth it to see positive improvements in the health of children, students and the community as a whole.”

As 2017 marks the 5th anniversary of the World Health Organization’s roadmap on NTDs and the London Declaration, the Women in Focus awards celebrate this milestone by recognising the inspirational women working behind the scenes helping to control, eliminate and eradicate 10 neglected tropical diseases.

King Salman honours scientists

King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud of Saudi Arabia honoured the winners of the King Faisal International Prize 2017 at a ceremony in Riyadh on 4 April.

The King Faisal International Prize honours exceptional achievements in a number of key areas, including Arabic Language & Literature, Medicine, and Science. Among the winners in the 39th session of the award this year were four scientists and researchers.

Giving away the award, King Salman commended the efforts of the scientists and researchers in creating a better world.

King Salman handed over the King Faisal International Prize for Medicine to Professor Tadamitsu Kishimoto of Japan for developing a novel biologic therapy for autoimmune diseases. Kishimoto is the Professor of Immunology Frontier Research Center at Osaka University.

King Salman also presented the King Faisal International Prize for Science; shared this year by Professor Daniel Loss and Professor Laurens Molenkamp, physicists from Switzerland and Germany. Loss is the Professor of the Department of Physics, University of Basel, while Molenkamp is Professor and Head, MBE Unit, University of Wurzburg.

Prof. Loss won the award in recognition of his work on the theory of spin dynamics and spin coherence in quantum dots, which has practical applications in spin quantum computers. Professor Molenkamp was honoured for his work in the experimental field of spintronics.

On the occasion, Prof. Kishimoto said: “The King Faisal International Prize deserves to be commended for encouraging efforts in the knowledge and research arena around the world. I am proud to be a recipient of this renowned prize, which has this year helped draw attention to the importance of immunology. This award will help further enrich research based initiatives to understand more about the human immune system.”

A world-renowned immunologist, Prof. Kishimoto, through his work of more than 30 years, is responsible for discovering interleukin- 6 (IL-6), its receptor and signalling pathways. He established the physiological function of the IL-6 pathway and its role in inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. Subsequently, he developed an IL-6 receptor-blocking antibody into a biological therapy, leading the clinical development of this therapy towards the first approval for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.

Qayyara Hospital in Mosul reopened

Five months after Al-Qayyara Hospital in Mosul was forced to close down due to extensive damages, the facility has been re-opened to provide trauma care and obstetric services to populations affected by the ongoing conflict. The hospital, which re-opened on 7 March, will respond to increasing health needs of people fleeing their homes in West Mosul, as military operations to retake the city continue.

“WHO and partners have stepped uphealth care delivery to cope with the new exodus of displaced population fleeing West Mosul,” said Altaf Musani, WHO Representative in Iraq. “The urgency of the situation means that only the ground floor of the hospital is functioning at this stage, but this will ensure referral health services are now available near the front lines, and that more lives can be saved through timely medical care,” he added.

Al-Qayyara Hospital is a secondary referral facility serving the entire catchment area in Al Qayyara, south of Mosul. Trauma cases from west Mosul who are stabilized at WHO-supported trauma stabilization points will now be transferred to the hospital for advanced surgical treatment. With support from WHO, the hospital is equipped with 2 operation theatres, a blood bank, laboratory, and X-ray, ultrasound, and sterilization units. There are currently 45 medical staff working in the hospital, including 6 surgeons and 4 anesthetists. In the first week since its opening from 7 to 13 March, the hospital conducted 540 surgical consultations and 1014 obstetric consultations, including 532 normal deliveries and 32 cesarean deliveries.

Renovation work in the hospital was carried out by WHO implementing partner WAHA. Together with national health authorities, WHO is supporting the provision of trauma care services through the delivery of medicines, medical supplies and equipment, and incentives for health workers. Obstetric services are provided with support from UNFPA. The hospital is one of many health facilities in Iraq supported by WHO through generous donations from the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO), Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA), the Government of Kuwait, and the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF).

Leaders in nursing discuss health improvement strategies for ME

The Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI) convened a regional meeting of the Global Advisory Panel on the Future of Nursing and Midwifery (GAPFON) in March in Abu Dhabi in collaboration with the Emirates Nursing Association (ENA). More than 30 key nursing and midwifery leaders from 13 countries in the Middle East region participated.

“The Global Advisory Panel on the Future of Nursing and Midwifery is an important conference to identify and develop recommendations to address the most important issues facing health at the global level,” said Her Royal Highness Princess Muna Al-Hussein of Jordan, Patron of the GAPFON Middle East Regional Meeting. “Nurses and midwives will play an integral role in leading change to improve the quality of life of people globally by capitalizing on their best assets and collective potentials.”

Dr Huda Abu-Saad, Professor of Nursing Science and Director of the Hariri School of Nursing at the American University of Beirut added: “GAPFON is a visionary and commendable initiative with promising global impact that brings regional leaders together to discuss the future of nursing and midwifery and their impact at the global level.”

Participants confirmed that priority issues and action strategies to achieve global health must focus on leadership, policy/regulation, education, and workforce. Participants felt strongly that these priorities are inter-related and each is integral to the achievement of regional goals. Additionally, they noted that recommendations for action in any of these areas must be evidence-based and linked to achievement of outcomes.

These stakeholders verbalized the importance of developing nursing and midwifery leaders and positioning them in roles where they can be most effective. They noted the importance of leveraging the return on investment that nurses and midwives contribute to the attainment of health. The stakeholders reiterated that promoting quality nursing/midwifery practice and education, including the development and promotion of community initiatives, social justice, and human rights, are areas where nurses and midwives have a pivotal leadership role. They agreed that health promotion focused on disease prevention is vital, along with the importance of adequate preparedness and response to natural and man-made disasters. They also agreed that education, awareness, and timely treatment of mental health issues is a priority in this region.

During their discussions, stakeholders identified specific strategies to enhance health, including utilizing data and evidence to inform health policy and to increase national commitment and funding. They also stressed the importance of employing an accountability framework, including state-of-the-art technology, to monitor and evaluate performance against targets. In addition, the participants recognized the need for coalitionbuilding and interprofessional collaboration at all levels to improve health, along with the development of an adequate, competent nursing/midwifery workforce. These strategies are especially important to address the consequences of frequently overlooked or minimized mental health concerns, including those stemming from violence, poverty, and natural disasters. The strategies identified by the Middle East stakeholders are congruent with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The GAPFON Middle East Regional Meeting represents one of seven global regions where STTI is holding meetings. In the coming months, STTI will convene the remaining two meetings, to be held in Europe and Africa. Data from these meetings will provide the basis for an overall action plan with regional policy implications. GAPFON will analyse and prioritize key recommendations that address each of the region’s challenges in both global and regional summary reports and will post these reports at

UK’s Priory Group opens wellbeing centre for mental health care in DHCC

The UK’s Priory, which is most commonly associated with treating celebrities, has just opened its first overseas facility in Dubai’s Healthcare City (DHCC).

The Priory Wellbeing Centre, which is now accepting patients, provides treatment for a wide range of conditions including depression, stress, addiction, and anxiety-related conditions including obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and panic attacks.

Will Goodwin, managing director of Priory Group in the Middle East, said: “The UK mental healthcare system is considered among the best in the world. I am extremely excited to expand our care internationally, particularly within the UAE.

“Every year many people reach the point of needing mental health support. Our specialists can provide confidential bespoke support and treatment tailored to particular needs and goals.”

The Priory Group has invested Dh2 million in the centre which will be staffed by psychiatrists and counsellors, led by Priory’s Middle East Medical Director, Dr Saaed Islam.

Dr Islam said: “The opening of this new wellbeing centre, under the internationally acclaimed Priory brand, will be a huge asset to the effective delivery of mental health services in Dubai and will allow our team to reach out to patients - both Emirati as well as expats. We know from the ongoing success of these clinics in London and other key cities across the UK that there is a demand for accessible mental health support and treatment and I believe that nobody – whatever their age, gender, profession or culture - should ever be scared or ashamed to seek help.”

He added: “There are many reasons why a region or country sees a higher prevalence of a specific condition but we hope that by offering a friendly and discreet service, we can play an active part in identifying and addressing these issues and supporting our patients towards long-term recovery.”


Al Jalila Foundation receives grant for UAE-based vitamin D deficiency study

The Al Jalila Foundation has received a two-year Health Access Grant for US$100,000 from Medtronic Foundation.

The grant will fund a research programme focusing on Vitamin D deficiency in adults and children across the United Arab Emirates. The study will focus onobearly detection, evaluation, and treatment of vitamin D deficiency. The grant will allow Al Jalila Foundation – a philanthropic organisation dedicated to transforming lives through medical education and research – to screen thousands across the UAE to promote early detection and prevention of the debilitating disease.

According to the International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF), up to 90% of those living in the emirates suffer from a Vitamin D deficiency. IOF stated that the number of UAE residents suffering from the deficiency, which causes osteoporosis, a bone degeneration disease, is one of the highest in the world with the highest incidences among women. Osteoporosis causes the deterioration of bone tissue and creates low bone mass, leading to bone fragility and a higher risk of broken bones.

Dr Abdulkareem Sultan Al Olama, Chief Executive Officer, Al Jalila Foundation said: “Vitamin D deficiency has become a global health concern. Studies have shown that insufficient levels of Vitamin D can lead to a number of chronic illnesses and life-threatening diseases. We are grateful to the Medtronic Foundation for their support and look forward to working together on this important study. It is our hope that through increased awareness and early detection patients will be better equipped to manage the disease to lead a healthy, happy and productive life.”

Medtronic Foundation Health Access Grants are awarded in 72 different com-munities around the world in recognition of community-based programs and organizations that demonstrate a commitment to expanding access to chronic disease care for the underserved.

Immunisation campaign protects 5 million children against polio in war-torn Yemen

In an effort to keep Yemen polio-free, nearly 5 million children under the age of 5 have been vaccinated in a nationwide campaign covering all governorates in the country. The campaign was supported by a partnership between the World Bank, UNICEF and WHO launched in February 2017.

Despite intensifying violence in Sa’ada governorate, more than 369,000 children between the ages of 6 months and 15 years were immunized against measles – a highly contagious and potentially fatal disease – and over 155,000 children under the age of 5 were vaccinated against polio.

Thousands of dedicated health workers, health educators, religious leaders and local council officials played a key role in mobilizing their communities to maximize the immunization campaign’s reach. Thanks to their support, high-risk groups, such as internally displaced persons and refugees, have also been vaccinated.

“WHO, UNICEF and the World Bank, are working closely with health authorities to keep Yemen polio-free and curb the spread of measles,” said Dr Nevio Zagaria, WHO Representative in Yemen. “This partnership provides continuous support to national health authorities to increase vaccination coverage for vulnerable children across Yemen.”

Before 2006, measles was one of the leading causes of death in children under 5 years old in Yemen. But several measles campaigns supported by WHO, UNICEF and the World Bank have succeeded in drastically reducing child deaths from the disease.

The 2 year-long conflict in Yemen has all but destroyed the country’s health system, including the national immunization programme to protect all children from preventable diseases. WHO and UNICEF have provided sustained support for the programme, along with other essential health services for children, including:

Delivering fuel, generators and solarpowered refrigerators to keep vaccines at a constant cool temperature,

Support for transferring vaccines from national and governorate cold rooms to local health facilities and vaccination teams.

“Every minute, the situation of Yemen’s children gets worse. It is unacceptable that children in Yemen are dying of preventable diseases. This is why, together with partners, we are sparing no effort to save more lives,” said Meritxell Relaño, UNICEF Representative in Yemen.

“The World Bank is committed to investing in children’s health, which is a vital investment in the country’s future, through working with our UN partners in Yemen and strengthening the local health institutions,” said Sandra Bloemenkamp, World Bank Country Manager for Yemen.

Immunization campaigns are critical to keep Yemen polio-free – a major priority for WHO, UNICEF and the World Bank – and to help minimize the risk of poliovirus being imported into the country. Vaccination is one of the safest and most cost-effective health interventions to protect children from potentially fatal and debilitating diseases.

UAEU device brings extra hand to OR

Medical technology developed at United Arab Emirates University (UAEU) is set to help surgeons navigate complex and delicate procedures by acting as a robotic aid to accuracy.

Created within UAEU’s College of Engineering, the Manipulator for Surgical Tools – for which patent approval has now been secured – employs a novel compactor robotic manipulator which is specially configured with a remote “centre-of-motion” function that effectively gives the surgeon an extra hand.

The device can easily and accurately manipulate and reorient special-purpose surgical tools for minimally-invasive procedures – including those used to treat some forms of cancer – with a freedom range of two degrees, and lock them in place. Capable of operating either manually, autonomously, or via remote control, it has also been designed in a way that ensures it stays out of the surgeon’s field of view as they work in a confined area where even the slightest twitch or error is unthinkable.

“The tools which this device can manipulate are used in surgeries such as biopsies, where it helps the surgeon reorient the needle before inserting it,” explained Dr Basem Yousef, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering, College of Engineering, UAEU.

“It can also be used for a type of radiotherapy called brachytherapy – a procedure used to treat lung, prostate and breast cancer – where radioactive seeds are planted to break up cancer cells. The device helps to implant these seeds. That is the overall aim – to help the surgeon by making the process more efficient and more accurate.”

The device comprises a sophisticated joint-link structure and configuration that allow the surgeon to comfortably manoeuvre the tool at a “pivot point” – typically where it enters the patient’s body – while avoiding the keyhole being widened.



Date of upload: 14th May 2017

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