Abu Dhabi : Medical Database to Reorganise Health Care


Medical database to reorganise health care

Abu Dhabi - OCT 08: An online database of patients’ medical records will start in the northern Emirates next year, connecting public hospitals and clinics under a Dh300 million (US$82m) Ministry of Health programme.

The ministry signed a contract yesterday for the project, called Wareed. The ministry hopes to expand it nationwide eventually.

Its aim is to eliminate duplication and to reduce registration times, medication errors, adverse drug reactions and the length of hospital stays.

It would take three years for the system to be operating in the ministry’s 14 hospitals and 68 affiliated clinics, said Humaid al Quattami, the Health Minister.

He said he hoped the system would not only improve patient care, but also increase public confidence in the healthcare system.

“This is a pioneering project which is the first of its kind in the Middle East and which is in line with the world’s most advanced public healthcare regimes that will set new standards in one of the most valued facets of our society. It will mean that each hospital and clinic will be able to access and update a patient’s record regardless of where they are.”

Each of the 1.5 million patients in ministry records would get a unique number linked to an online record system.

Doctors and nurses will have access to each patient’s record, while people will be able to view their own records online. Security measures will be put in place to protect sensitive medical information.

Mr Quattami said two hospitals, probably Al Qassimi Hospital in Sharjah and one in another of the northern Emirates, would operate pilot programmes by mid-2009. If they were successful, two more hospitals and their affiliated clinics would join every three months. It is estimated that all the hospitals and clinics would be online by October 2011.

Mr Quattami said: “As physicians gain unfettered and faster access to medical records, Wareed will bring about improved inpatient and outpatient care whilst acting as an additional barrier against the possibility of medical errors.

“Furthermore, it will increase confidence levels in the overall quality and efficiency of the public healthcare system.”

Dr Salem al Darmaki, the head of the ministry’s strategic team, said he hoped that eventually the system would link with a similar one already operating in Abu Dhabi and the new one being set up in Dubai, to create a nationwide system.

A few ministry clinics in Dubai would use the system from the start, in addition to the northern Emirates facilities.

Dr Darmaki also said training was a major part of the project.

“Training of staff in the hospitals and clinics is a big part of the contract for this. We want to make sure the system works in the best way it can. We are doing this to serve the population of the UAE as a whole.”

To protect patients’ confidentiality, the system would limit access to some information on patients to specific doctors and nurses. Fingerprint passwords system are also being considered to enhance security. The system could enhance the role of the internet in health care.

The ministry said once it was in place, patients could contact their doctor via a home computer, sending and receiving information in an online consultation. The project is to be managed by Dubai-based Hybrid Health Solutions and implemented by a consortium led by IT systems integration and consulting company iCapital.

Other members include Cerner Corporation, Gulf Business Machines and Injazat Data Systems, a joint venture of Mubadala Development Company and Electronic Data Systems.

Dr Mohammad al Atar, managing director of HHS, said: “This is a highly complex and extensive technology-led project that will bring immediate and tangible benefits to millions of people interacting with the UAE public sector hospitals. Wareed will be the heartbeat of the UAE’s network of public hospitals and clinics.”

Court may not hear testimony in Dubai indecency case

DUBAI - OCT 08: A court session to hear evidence in the case of two Britons charged with having drunken sex on a Dubai public beach was cancelled unexpectedly yesterday. According to court records, the Dubai Misdemeanours Court will now issue its verdict on Oct 16, apparently without hearing the evidence.

The court had been due to hear testimony from the arresting officer, Ali Mohammed Yacoub. Mr Yacoub had failed to appear at a Sept 9 hearing, and no reason was given for the cancellation of yesterday’s session.

The decision to announce the verdict on Oct 16, apparently without hearing Mr Yacoub’s testimony, emerged in court records after the hearing was cancelled.

Hassan Mattar, the lawyer for the defendants, Michelle Palmer, 36, and Vince Acors, 34, who had asked the court to summon Mr Yacoub for questioning, was not available for comment.

The Britons are charged with having sexual relations out of wedlock, committing a scandalous public act and consuming alcohol in public. They were arrested early on July 5 after attending a champagne brunch the previous day and then going to the beach.

Mr Yacoub said in a statement to prosecutors that he was near a beach in Jumeirah close to the Burj al Arab hotel when two men stopped his patrol car and said a man and a woman were having sex on the beach.

“I took a torch and went down to the beach and saw them,” his statement read.

The prosecutor, Faisal Ahli, declined to comment on the case and said all information had to come from Judge Hamad Abdullatif.

Mr Mattar has said he is ready to refute the allegation that his clients had engaged in sex on the beach.

“The witnesses interviewed by the prosecution were too far away to be able to say for sure what they saw exactly. That, coupled with the findings of the medical report, will form the main thrust of our defence,” Mr Mattar said in an earlier interview. He has denied that Mr Acors had admitted to having sex with Ms Palmer to the police or the prosecution.

DNA tests after their arrest showed no evidence of intercourse, he said. Prosecutors interviewed five witnesses, mostly passers-by who allegedly saw the couple on the beach committing the offences. A policeman was reported to have seen the pair frolicking on the beach and warned them, but when he returned a half-hour later they had ignored the warning, so he arrested them.

Mr Mattar said the media spotlight had been devastating for Ms Palmer and particularly her sick mother. Ms Palmer was fired from her job with a Dubai-based publishing group after her arrest.

If convicted the two Britons could face jail terms or a fine, or both. Mr Acors, a sales director for a television company, was on a four-day business trip to the UAE when he was introduced to Ms Palmer.

Negligence blamed in Naif fires

DUBAI - OCT 08: Civil Defence officials have blamed a recent spate of fires in the Naif area on the negligence and carelessness of residents.

“There is no evidence to imply the existence of serial faults that have led to the rise in the number of fires in the Naif area, apart from people being careless when it comes to fire hazards and gas canisters,” said Major Gen Mahmood Hamad, head of the information and documentation unit at Dubai Civil Defence.

The comment came after another fire erupted yesterday in a three-storey building in Naif where hundreds of residents lived. Everyone escaped unhurt, with panicked residents seen rushing out of their rooms fearing another deadly blaze. Civil Defence reached the building within minutes and everyone was evacuated, witnesses said.

“People are throwing garbage, cigarette butts and all kinds of flammable material anywhere without thinking,” said a building security guard. The guard said it was lucky that all residents got out alive.

“Being daytime, many were out of their rooms and the fire officials controlled the blaze in less than half an hour,” he said.

Residents claimed the fire started in an open balcony on the first floor, where residents had dumped all their unwanted baggage and furniture.

“I am left with just the clothes I am wearing,” said an African resident. “Everything else is destroyed.”

The building, like many in Naif, was home to single men and women, with dozens living together in one room.

The fire followed Monday’s announcement that the municipality would be launching a campaign to clean up the city, including targeting littering and the dumping of large amounts of rubbish onto the streets.

The city will target the Naif area first.

Naif, home to thousands of Asian, African and Arab expatriates, has witnessed a series of deadly fires this year that have destroyed property worth millions of dirhams. On April 2, at least 183 shops were gutted and two people injured in a fire at the old Naif Souq. On Aug 26 another fire killed 11 men at a traditional villa that had been housing hundreds of men. While investigations continue into the causes of both fires, authorities suggested that negligence was a key reason.

Civil Defence said its biggest challenge was controlling fires in the ever-expanding Al Quoz, Al Qusais and neighbouring industrial areas, where the number of industrial companies and storage warehouses had more than tripled in recent years.

“Most fires that take place [happen] in areas where factories and warehouses handle flammable material, but we have been more than capable in controlling and stopping the spreads of such fires,” said Major Gen Hamad.

However, residents of Naif said yesterday that fires were commonplace. They blamed some on rubbish dumped behind buildings and cramped quarters. “It is getting increasingly dangerous to live here,” said one resident. “There are many buildings which have poor ventilation, wiring and there is flammable material dumped dangerously all around it.”

Dubai Municipality is making inroads into educating the public with 1,000 requests made to the bulk domestic collection service in three-and-a-half months, it was revealed yesterday. The service was introduced this year for picking up unwanted goods such as furniture, refrigerators and washing machines to avoid people throwing them outside their homes or onto the roads, marring the appearance of the emirate and causing potential hazards, said Eng Abdllah Rafia, Assistant Director General for Environment and Public Health Affairs.

Dubai Municipality’s latest campaign, Say YES to a clean Naif, officially launches today and will see senior officials visiting residents and asking them to clean up.

The initiative will also target those who spit in public, discard cigarette butts on the ground and hang clothes out to dry on their balconies.

Media campaigns have been launched in newspapers and on radio stations, urging residents to help with the campaign.

“This is a good initiative,” said another resident. “However, a lot more is needed since the safety of the residents from such fires is still to be addressed.”


Tall buildings put us on the map, says Burj Dubai architect

DUBAI - OCT 08: In a city where it seems that almost all development seeks to be iconic, the architect behind the Burj Dubai said a greater concern is allowing buildings whose designs are different for the sake of being different and will not add anything to the social life of the city.

Adrian Smith, speaking at the World Architecture Congress at the Dubai International Exhibition Centre, discussed tall buildings and their role in developing civic identity.

“A super-tall building puts a city on a map,” he said. Emaar, the Burj Dubai developer, “wanted a super-tall building to anchor the district and distinguish it from other areas”.

Mission accomplished. The effect of the world’s tallest construction on the city cannot be underestimated. Love it or hate it, people around the world talk about it.

In addition to raising Dubai’s profile, Mr Smith said, the building’s design employs some of the latest and most advanced techniques for sustainability. Those include a wind tunnel running down the centre of the structure, having glass occupy 70 per cent of its surface area to optimise natural light indoors and a 2,000-square-metre solar-powered water heater on the roof.

It may be the tallest, but the Burj Dubai has competition from other buildings to become the symbol of Dubai. With the Burj Al Arab hotel just a few kilometres away and a handful of other super-tall buildings planned, the Burj Dubai will get a run for its money.

Some architects and design professionals question the need for so many iconic buildings.

Hisham Youssef, president of the Architectural Association of the UAE, said in some cases landmark buildings seemed to be examples more of shock architecture than of good architecture.

“The Burj Al Arab? Personally I think of a landmark more as a civic structure than a hotel,” he said.

“There is intent to build landmarks here, though. We want to draw attention to the fact we’re prosperous and wealthy. We’re building just because we can.”


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