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Articles from 2021 In May


Patients with liver disease should take extra precautions during COVID-19

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Liver disorder is a silent but progressive disease that affects thousands of people in the UAE. The most common liver disorder is Fatty Liver or Hepatic Steatosis due to obesity, diabetes and high cholesterol levels.

According to Dr Emad Fayyad, a consultant gastroenterologist at Medcare Hospital Al Safa in Dubai, the liver disease tends to affect more men than women, not just in the UAE but globally. “This can be partly because, in general, men drink excessively more alcohol than women and thus, tend to be affected by obesity more than women,” he explains.

When asked about whether people with pre-existing liver disease are more at risk of severe illness or death from COVID-19, Dr Fayyad says that the simple answer is yes, they are.

“Having a pre-existing liver disease makes the patient very vulnerable to any infection and can see serious complications arise when a person is affected by a virus such as COVID-19, which affects the immune system as the virus will be fighting against a weaker, already impaired immunity system,” he says. “COVID-19 generally has a tropism to the lungs, but in serious cases, it can attack the liver, which can sometimes lead to death.”

“There haven’t been any direct cases of those with COVID-19 developing liver disease, but it might be a secondary symptom because of the symptoms that COVID-19 might develop, “ he adds.

People suffering from liver disease must take extra precautions when trying to protect themselves from catching COVID-19. This includes avoiding excessive crowds, maintaining good hygiene, washing their hands thoroughly and often, ensuring they practice social distancing, and getting a periodic liver function test and complete blood test to ensure that their white blood cells aren’t too low.

Symptoms of liver disease

“The first level of treatment in helping to alleviate liver disease is to maintain a healthy diet, avoiding heavy and excessively fatty meals and alcohol, as this will help the liver to rejuvenate and regenerate itself, ” Dr Fayyad explains. “Some people don’t even realise that they might have liver disease as the symptoms tend to be quite vague, but if a person is experiencing fatigue, lethargy, loss of appetite, a mild fever, darker-than-usual urine, a yellowish discolouration of sclera, abdominal pain on the right-hand side, and wasting muscle, I’d recommend that they go and see their GP who might recommend they visit a gastroenterologist for a full check-up.”

Patient monitoring devices take a remote route

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Surging healthcare costs driven by a rise in chronic diseases necessitated innovative technology’s positioning in healthcare. Integration of the Internet of Things, cloud computing and big data technologies have paved the way for Remote Patient Monitoring, which is gaining prominence in the present landscape of a pandemic. A significant breakthrough has been in patient health monitoring platforms and smart devices which have real-time patient data collecting capabilities, enabling healthcare providers to continue the assessment of patients remotely. As Arab Health’s online focus days commence, renowned and award-winning speakers took centre stage to speak about the shifting paradigms in healthcare and its future. Innov8 talks followed suit introducing industry stakeholders to key disruptors such as Waire Health and GlucoActive, which enable patients to self-monitor.

The future of consumer wearables

Technology has been leveraged to provide healthcare stakeholders with effective solutions. This has led to an increase in the demand for a variety of commercial home and wearable health monitors. According to an article published in the journal of Biomedical Optics, these include, but are not limited to glucometers, digital stethoscopes, mobility trackers, blood pressure monitors and electrocardiograms. In 2019, the consumer wearables market, which includes health trackers like the Fitbit and Apple Watch, generated nearly US$19 billion in revenue. Accelerometers and photoplethysmography (PPG) are used in small, wrist-worn wearables to track mobility and heart rate. With the inclusion of multiwavelength optical sensors and electrical impedance sensors, newer models may track additional parameters such as peripheral arterial oxygen saturation and electrical impulses from the heart (ECG). The adoption of these consumer wearables in the healthcare space is beginning to impact clinical study design and healthcare delivery. 

Innovations in the pipeline

Waire Health

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Source: Waire health, https://www.waire.health/medicalgrade

Waire Health builds state-of-the-art wearable vital signs monitors that offer consumer levels of usability with medical-grade accuracy. These provide an end-to-end solution for doctors, nurses, administrators, procurers, carers and can be used offline. “Our monitors work for patients in hospitals and in their homes post-discharge, we offer an end-to-end solution, not just a monitoring device. Today, the telehealth industry has suffered supplying several disparate connected devices to patients and it's not realised that they lacked consumer levels of usability. Accurate vital signs are fundamental to any clinical decision. In 2017, the EU attempted to build the next generation of vital signs monitors, 198 companies applied, and our sensor product made it to the final four before COVID-19 hit,” says Dave Hurhangee, CEO.

In addition, C-Detect, a device that alerts users to get tested to reduce the spread of COVID-19 is presently in the wings. “As a winner of the IIT digital token tracing project, we will also have international talking tracing capability added to the device by November. The market for C-Detect is large, especially in a global pandemic,” adds Hurhangee. The device is autonomous and works off-grid, without routers or hubs, with the sensor warning the wearer to seek assistance if they are unconnected. It also calculates blood pressure accurately without an inflatable cuff and has a continuous ECG integration.

GlucoActive

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source: GlucoActive, https://gluco-active.com/glucowear/

The World Health Organization reports that 10 per cent of the global population suffers from diabetes, with 422 million patients globally. “Up to 20 per cent of the population is undiagnosed, this leads to almost 3.7 million deaths yearly. The huge social impact is also reflected in the value of our market. Studies relay that the down value of European blood glucometer market is worth around US$2 billion. When you look at the global glucometer market, it is over US$22 billion. There are two main reasons behind the problem of blood glucose myenteric, one that it is painful, and secondly, people feel the fear of diagnostics,” says Robert Stachurski, co-founder, and CEO of GlucoActive.

GlucoActive uses noninvasive laser light which penetrates the skin and reacts only with the glucose molecules. By measuring the intensity of the signal, the blood glucose concentration can be evaluated. “We have currently free versions of the devices in the pipeline, stationary for professional use, like hospitals and medical facilities and the other which can be worn by patients, sports enthusiasts or by people who want to take care of their health.”

Currently, the non-invasive glucometer developer’s technology is secured with two billable PCT button submissions and other developments are on the way. Its operational devices have passed clinical trials and are undergoing the medical certification process. “The glucose station device is the first device that we are currently preparing for the production and commercialisation. The second device that will be commercialised is GlucoWear, a wearable armband offering mobility and continuous monitoring. Our goal for the future is to achieve higher accuracy than the laboratory tests, which is below 8 per cent,” he states.

Prevalence in digital transformation

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Omnia Health (@omnia__health)

Migration towards smart systems has also impacted traditional clinic settings – continuous patient monitoring has always been essential in the intensive care unit (ICU) for detecting critical changes in patients' health statuses and guiding therapy. The use of digital health technologies to monitor patients have proven beneficial in improving patient safety. Healthcare stakeholders are focused on promoting a rapid and sustainable implementation of digital health solutions in the ICU through user derived findings. The findings from the alarm management or mobile device studies could be used to train the ICU staff to use new technology, reduce alarm fatigue, improve medical device usability, and advance interoperability standards in intensive care medicine. Increasing the trust and awareness of ICU staff in digital health technology may be a prerequisite for digital transformation in healthcare.

The 2021 Medical Imaging Report

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COVID-19 resulted in patients holding off most procedures related to oncology, cardiology and neurology. Also, elective procedures came to a halt. Moreover, restructuring of procurement budgets had to be done to address COVID-19 related requirements first. This caused disruptions in trade, supply chain, and manufacturing globally. The medical imaging industry was especially hit hard as this resulted in a delay in procurements of capital-intensive equipment. 

Developed with insights from global research and consulting firm Frost & Sullivan and leading technology research provider Omdia, the 2021 Medical Imaging Report does a deep dive into the impact of COVID-19 on the medical imaging industry, how AI is disrupting the industry, the latest trends shaping it, and the evolution of the discipline from being a diagnostic modality to playing an active role in patient care.

From 2017 to 2019, the imaging industry was growing and adding US$2 billion every year, according to Frost &. Sullivan. However, due to the pandemic in 2020, there was a drop of about 15 per cent in revenue. While recent research from Omdia highlights that as markets stabilise, much of the pent-up demand from delayed equipment purchases in 2020 will be met in 2021 and 2022. Read more of these insights below.

Click to read The 2021 Medical Imaging Report


 

Australian Nobel Laureate Professor Marshall and Pankaj Savara partner to set up Tri-Med’s UAE office

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Australian based Tri-Med, a leading healthcare brand, has chosen Dubai/UAE as its regional headquarters in partnership with Former Western Australian Trade Commissioner, Pankaj Savara for the Asia and Africa region. Tri-Med is a Perth based organisation founded in 1996 by Nobel Laureate Professor Barry Marshall to satisfy a need for the design, development, and distribution of a safe, reliable diagnostic test to detect 'Heliobacter Pylori', commonly known as H. pylori bacteria.

In the ‘spirit of Aussie entrepreneurship’, Professor Marshall famously ingested H.pylori to prove the link between the bacteria and its role in gastritis and peptic ulcer disease. This single act of bravery has resulted in a cure for stomach ulcers which has helped millions of people around the world. It also resulted in a Nobel Prize for Professor Barry Marshall and Dr. Robin Warren. Professor Marshall has also been invited to speak at Arab Health, one of the world’s largest healthcare events, to be held in Dubai in June this year.

H.E. Ian Halliday, Australian Consul General in Dubai, and General Manager, Australian Trade and Investment Commission for the Middle East, Africa and Turkey stated that, “We applaud Professor Marshall’s achievements in the health sector and are delighted to learn of Tri-Med’s expansion plans of setting up a regional hub office in the UAE. Healthcare has become an increasingly important service sector globally, and we are pleased to introduce Australian capabilities and best practices in healthcare to this region,”.

Tri-Med’s Founder and Nobel Laureate Professor Marshall was excited to announce the appointment today, “The UAE offers a perfect hub for Tri-Med for its expansion plans in The Middle-East and Asia. Tri-Med has been exporting into the region since 2008 and coincidentally Pankaj Savara was instrumental in helping us to connect to markets in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia back then”.

“We are very happy to have Pankaj on board as a regional partner to help consolidate our presence in this marketplace. Pankaj brings a wealth of experience to our business, after having spent 18 years as a Trade Commissioner in Dubai. Our investment demonstrates a deep commitment to continuing to grow our international markets and improve the service to our existing clients”, added Professor Marshall.

Tri-Med has expanded both its product base and international footprint and now markets PYtest, CLOtest, Scintillation and Collection Fluids, and associated Therapeutics throughout Australia and to a worldwide market including over 30 export destinations.

When asked what attracted him to the role, Pankaj responded “I have watched Tri-Med grow its presence in the region for many years. I believe that Tri-Med will add tremendous value to the region and has excellent potential to grow and capitalize on the brand’s prominence as an Ulcer Diagnostic. I also feel a connection to the purpose of the business, which is the global detection and treatment of Helicobacter Pylori. I look forward to further strengthening the organisation’s position in the global market”.

Australia has been one of the countries to successfully contain the COVID-19 pandemic, and one of the objectives of this partnership is to share Australian best health practices and services with the rest of the world with the purpose of resolving health-related challenges.

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Pankaj Savara and Professor Barry Marshall

Professor Marshall will be in conversation with Omnia Health Insights Head of Content Matthew Brady today on 'How does one develop an innovative mindset in healthcare?' at the Arab Health Focus Days. Register here

Webinars

ISDM webinar: Smart laboratories and the future of workspaces

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As a Facilities or Lab Director, do you have data that shows how your workers are using your spaces and what workspace you actually need? As an IT Director, how are your systems supporting the use of smart buildings and how can you manage new technology in an integrated setting, not as standalone bolt-ons?

Data-driven optimization allows you to further improve your work environment, turning it into a catalyst for innovation and growth. Thanks to the advances in technology integrations, laboratories and other workspaces/buildings can become more than intelligent: they can evolve and adapt to the requirements of your company with flexibility.

With the rise of the hybrid model of working, designated spaces are losing ground to agile workspaces that can adapt to demand and increased workflow. Meanwhile, desk sharing in both the office and laboratory setting is becoming more popular than ever, bringing real infrastructure savings, and preventing potential capacity issues. With the correct solutions, you can manage occupancy, assets and systems, in real-time, to give you the data you need to repurpose spaces, meet H&S Strategies and Sustainability initiatives. These cost savings will allow substantial reinvestment into R&D while supporting a more efficient and effective workflow.

In this webinar, ISDM provides solutions and services that allow you to capture and analyse data, spot trends and support strategies that help your workforce communicate better.

Learning objectives

  • Learn how you can assess your workspace for optimized performance
  • Find out what technology can save you money across your estate by  investing in smart technology
  • What are the benefits of space management technology in the “new normal” and what metrics can influence strategic decisions both in the laboratory and in overall real estate
  • What solutions are currently available and what are the benefits
  • Understand who ISDM is as a brand and what solutions can benefit your laboratories 

 

Can COVID-19 vaccination help fight PIMS-TS?

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Recently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved administering the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children between the ages of 12 and 15, which is also now available to book in the UAE. According to Pfizer Inc and BioNTech SE, its study has shown that the vaccine is 100 per cent effective in preventing COVID-19 among kids in this age group.

According to the UK’s Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, most children don’t become seriously unwell with COVID-19. Between 1 and 5 children in 100,000 need admission to hospital for COVID-19 and even fewer of these require admission to an intensive care unit.

However, doctors have seen a small number of children and teenagers who develop a rare inflammatory condition that appears to be linked to the virus. Paediatric Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome (PIMS-TS) reportedly occurs in less than 0.5 per cent of children who have or who have had COVID-19. It is similar to Kawasaki disease or toxic shock syndrome. These children suffer from fever and inflammation, and some have rashes or abdominal pain.

In an interview with Omnia Health Insights, Dr Louis Grandjean, Infectious Diseases Consultant at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH), explains what PIMS-TS is, what are its symptoms and sheds light on the importance of vaccination in controlling the disease. Excerpts:

How is PIMS-TS associated with SARS-CoV-2? What are its symptoms? Can vaccination help control the disease?

PIMS-TS is a multisystem inflammatory disease temporally associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection. This condition is also called MIS-C or PIMS. It is a novel condition that was first reported in April 2020.

Children with PIMS-TS often present with fevers, hypotension, a rash, and a low lymphocyte count. The fevers usually last for more than three days, and there may be other associated symptoms including headache, stomachache, neck pain, swollen hands or feet and weakness or fatigue.

As well as protecting against severe disease, a vaccination can potentially prevent people from being infected with COVID-19 and, therefore, block the transmission of the disease. This would then decrease the numbers of PIMS-TS as it is temporally associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Could you share your experiences of treating patients with PIMS-TS at GOSH?

It’s been great to see the recovery of our patients. Sometimes it takes a while, but it’s been so encouraging to see so many have returned to full health.

This is the result of a massive group effort across the hospital. It is worth mentioning the incredible effort and hours of dedication from the nursing staff in responding to this new situation. Additionally, the physiotherapists have done great rehabilitation work to help children move off the ICU and wards, and the ICU specialists have also been great at rapidly responding to the influx of patients on the PICU.

What are the most significant challenges facing paediatric care in 2021?

I think in the short term the most significant challenge we’re facing is the possibility of a potential third and fourth wave of COVID. This is the most concerning thing at the moment given the strain on the workforce and disruption to normal paediatric care that are associated with this.

Is technology having an impact on paediatric care? How do you see it evolving in the future?

Technology has always impacted medicine and continues to do so. It is particularly relevant at a hospital such as Great Ormond Street Hospital, as we have the ability to employ the latest technologies. Technology continues to improve the way we deliver medical care.

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Dr Grandjean is a paediatric consultant in paediatric infectious diseases at GOSH and a Clinical Associate Professor and Honorary Consultant in Paediatric Infectious Diseases at University College London. He is also a Welcome Trust Post-Doctoral Fellow at Imperial College London, where he is leading a research.

Physiotherapy and rehabilitation metamorphosises as a prerequisite

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Rehabilitation is becoming more widely recognised as a critical step in the recovery from a variety of ailments. As a result, a growing number of hospitals and healthcare organisations are providing rehabilitation services.

For healthcare providers, rehabilitation devices play a crucial role in facilitating and administering specialised treatments for patients. A wide variety of rehabilitation products used by physiotherapists, speech therapists, rehab nurses, occupational therapists, and other practitioners is growing in popularity, indicating that the market will expand. Biospace predicts that exercise and mobility, cognitive therapy equipment, test supplies, orthopedic soft goods, hot and cold therapy, heel and elbow support, cushions, and lymphedema products are expected to be some of the market's most important segments by category.

The global demand for rehabilitation equipment can be divided into home care facilities, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, clinics, and physiotherapy centers in terms of end users. Hospitals are projected to account for a significant share of the market.

Physiotherapy in ICUs

According to the findings from a study published in the Turkish Thoracic Journal, physical therapy in the intensive care unit (ICU) has many advantages, including improved quality of life, body functions, peripheral and respiratory muscle strength, and shortened hospital and ICU stays. Mobilisation, positioning, percussion, vibration, manual hyperventilation, suctioning, coughing, inspiratory muscle training, and bed and breathing exercises are some of the physiotherapy techniques used in the ICU. These treatments can be classified as chest physiotherapy and mobilisation.

According to the core standards for ICUs, physiotherapy should be accessible 24 hours a day, if required, depending on the patient's needs, and one physiotherapist per four beds is recommended to provide both respiratory management and rehabilitation care.

Positioning, active range of motion exercises, breathing exercises, passive range of motion exercises, percussion, mobilisation, vibration, and postural drainage were the most prevalent interventions in ICUs based in Turkey. In a study conducted in ICUs in Australia and New Zealand, vibration followed by manual lung hyperinflation, percussion, postural drainage/positioning, and mobilisation were identified as the most common secretion clearance techniques. A preliminary survey by Japanese Society of Education for Physicians and Trainees in Intensive Care, states that current rehabilitation procedures in Japanese ICUs include range of motion exercises, practicing sitting, and standing for patients on mechanical ventilation, as well as respiratory muscle conditioning and walking on rare occasions. Findings from the same study indicated that patients did not undergo electrical stimulation or used a cycle ergometer.

The primary obstacles to practicing physiotherapy in the ICU were a shortage of assistive equipment and a lack of priority to buy equipment/material. In order to practice proper physiotherapy in the ICU, assistive equipment like in-bed mobilisation bicycles, free weights/elastic bands, and walkers must be supplied.

Early ICU rehabilitation interventions may reduce physical and mental health complications, with potential benefits including improved muscle strength, physical function, and quality of life, as well as a reduction in healthcare costs and ICU stay.

Remote Care

The Remote Physiotherapy Market is expected to expand at a high CAGR from 2021 to 2026, according to a new market research report published by Global Market Estimates. Remote Physiotherapy is a technology-driven program that uses a virtual environment to include goods and services. These are computer-based programs that allow patients to virtually consult and interact with therapists or doctors. The impact of Covid-19 on people's lifestyles, have paved way for these systems have been widely adopted, and they have proven to be a popular platform for patients who need consultation.

In developed countries, these therapies are not a new occurrence. However, as a result of social distancing and lockdown incidents, remote physiotherapy has reached patients of all ages, interests, and locations.

Treating osteoarthritis of the knee with Partial Knee Replacement as a minimally invasive alternative

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In the UAE, while knee problems are common, most often, they are neglected. Studies indicate that seeking early medical intervention for knee problems can help the patients maintain their joint health without undergoing surgery.

Recently, a 75-year-old Dubai resident successfully underwent a first-of-its-kind Partial Knee Replacement based on the most advanced technique known as the Oxford Procedure at the Adam Vital Hospital in Dubai. Unlike the Total Knee Replacement (TKR) procedure in which all the knee joint surfaces are removed, an Oxford Partial Knee Replacement is performed to only replace damaged tissue and bone in the knee joint with artificial implants called prosthetics, and the rest of the knee remains unharmed and preserved.

By preserving all the undamaged parts, the knee joint can bend and function more naturally in a regular movement using its unique mobile-bearing design with low wear rates, potentially giving patients relatively longer life expectancies. Besides having relatively longer durability, Oxford Partial Knee Replacement has several advantages: smaller incisions, shorter hospital stays, faster recovery and minimal post-operative pain.

Recent research indicates that Partial Knee Replacement patients post one year of operation were 1.81 times more likely than Total Knee Replacement recipients to report that their knee felt normal and 2.69 times more likely to be satisfied with their ability to perform routine day to day activities.

When can partial knee replacement be done?

According to Dr Allaeldin Elbadawi, Consultant Orthopedic Surgeon at Adam Vital Hospital, any patient who has medial or lateral knee osteoarthritis can be considered for partial knee replacement.

“Partial Knee Replacement can be done when the damage is confined to a particular compartment of the knee,” he explains.

There are numerous advantages of partial knee replacement, says Dr Elbadawi. “It is less invasive, the patient will have a quick recovery, there is natural knee motion, no long-term activity restrictions, it has low complications related to total knee replacement, and all the healthy bone and ligaments are retained.”

Break the silence: UAE IBD Society launched to support patients

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In line with World IBD day, Dr Maryam Al Khatry, Gastroenterologist and Head of Department at IBHO Hospital and former President of the Emirates Gastroenterology and Hepatology Society, announced the formal launch of the UAE IBD Society. Established under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Sultan bin Hamdan Al Nahyan and the supervision of Ministry of Community Development, the society aims to make a difference in the lives of those who are affected by this disease.

One of the key objectives of the UAE IBD society is to increase awareness by addressing misconceptions and creating a community of support by empowering patients to share experiences. The society will offer an inclusive programme to enhance patient quality of life by partnering with prominent figures who can advocate for the community's needs. The launch of the region’s first dedicated IBD patient website (www.IBDUAE.ae), will also serve as a vital instigator in education and awareness activities elevating public understanding and empathy. To fill the gap in understanding and deriving an accurate estimate of people affected by IBD in the UAE, the society will develop a UAE patient registry.

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We want to encourage people to come forward, to actively seek advice, to share knowledge, and to ultimately support one another to achieve a better quality of life. Scientific research is also a key area of focus for the society. By dedicating resources that encourage research into IBD in the UAE, we can work side-by-side with our patient community to further assess the challenges they face and develop meaningful solutions that can make a real impact on their lives,” says Dr Maryam Al Khatry.

Commenting on the launch of the society, H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Sultan bin Hamdan Al Nahyan said: “The launch of the UAE IBD Society supports the UAE Vision 2021 of a world-class healthcare system, by improving education and access to treatment. In recognition of our wise leadership’s objectives, I am proud to be a patron of such an important initiative as we work together to protect and improve public health and the wellbeing of our precious community.”

Chronic illness

IBD (inflammatory bowel disease) is a broad term that refers to a variety of conditions that cause inflammation in the digestive system, the most common of which are Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. It's a chronic illness for which presently there is no cure. While the exact number of people suffering from IBD in the UAE is unknown, it is estimated to be between 2-4 per cent of the population, with the onset occurring most frequently in adolescents and young adults aged 20-30.

Janssen GCC, the Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson Middle East FZ LLC, has supported the establishment of the IBD UAE society. “Janssen is proud to partner with the UAE IBD Society to empower patients with knowledge for the management of their IBD condition. This partnership falls in line with our commitment to place the patient at the heart of our endeavours and to bring in the support to help improve access to quality care,” said Jamie Phares, Managing Director, Janssen GCC, the Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson Middle East FZ LLC.

Those affected by IBD, as a patient or carer, can become a member of the society at www.IBDUAE.ae

Malaffi supports Abu Dhabi COVID-19 vaccination campaign

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The UAE has set ambitious targets for COVID-19 vaccinations. Thanks to the ‘Choose to Vaccinate’ campaign, the country is among the leading countries in the world in terms of vaccination rates, with over 11 million doses administered so far.

In Abu Dhabi, the response to the pandemic has been exemplary from the beginning. As recently recognised by an independent survey by London-based Deep Knowledge Group, which assessed the COVID-19 response of cities around the world, analysts ranked the Emirate on top. Against more than 50 parameters, including vaccination and testing rates, Abu Dhabi led the world with a robust and rapid response that helped protect the health and safety of the community. Mass testing centres, field hospitals, and drive-through facilities were established immediately to help contain the virus. The UAE Government took the strategic decision early on to secure vaccinations for residents as soon as possible, and the Ministry of Health and Prevention was among the first regulators globally to approve vaccines for emergency use. It then established vaccination stations in existing healthcare facilities and purpose-built facilities around the country to ensure that supply of vaccinations would meet the demand.

The country now has a vaccine distribution rate of 115.75 per 100 people. From regulatory approvals to managing a supply chain, from setting up field centres to mass communications campaigns – all at record scale and speed – the logistical complexity of rolling out such a vaccination programme at a national level successfully, is immense.

Malaffi, the established Health Information Exchange, has been an integral part of the Emirate’s pandemic response. Connecting electronic medical records to centralise patient information, the platform created a database of COVID-19 test results in the Emirate – a staggering 29,401,060 million tests to date. As part of the National Vaccination Program, Malaffi enables frontline healthcare workers and health authorities to manage patient vaccination data within the Emirate, which ensures that the right patients are getting the right dose at the right time, no matter where in the Emirate they go to be vaccinated.

"We are seeing good progress on a daily basis. Vaccination programmes are a challenge to manage but having Malaffi’s health information exchange technology in place is a significant enabler of the success of vaccination in the UAE. We can look at overall vaccination rates at an Emirate-wide level and monitor different indicators over time, that provides insights for the capacity planning, and at the patient level, we can record adverse reactions and check for any contraindications such as allergies. This makes the process more efficient and improves safety," notes Dr Farida Al Hosani, official spokesperson for the UAE health sector.

There are three main ways in which Malaffi is supporting the vaccination campaign:

Centralising vaccine information from points of vaccination

Through a dedicated Vaccination Module, Malaffi is currently collecting and sharing vaccination information more than 100 facilities in Abu Dhabi that are part of the vaccination program. Due to the vaccination information being centralised in Malaffi, the DOH and the government have real-time insights about the Emirate's vaccination status. Having access to this information enables the authorities to generate operational reports, plan the vaccination capacities, streamline the logistics and the vaccine supply chain, and inform public outreach programs. Healthcare professionals in Abu Dhabi have access to the COVID-19 vaccination information in Malaffi, which improves clinical decision making and the efficiency of the vaccination program. In the near future, healthcare professionals will be able to see other immunisation data for patients – beyond the COVID-19 vaccine – easily within Malaffi.

Confirming eligibility for vaccination

Having access to the Malaffi vaccines information enables medical staff at the point of vaccination to establish the status of the patient, verifying whether they have been part of any vaccination trial or whether they have already been vaccinated. To enhance safety, medical staff at the point of care can also check the medical history of the patient and identify any possible contraindications to receiving the vaccine, such as allergies. Access to these sources empowers informed decision-making and greatly improves the safety of the vaccination efforts.

Monitoring and reporting of adverse events

Any vaccine side effect noted at the point of care by the clinicians in their electronic health records will be centralised through Malaffi. This information will be an invaluable source for the authorities to monitor the safety of the vaccines longer term. 

Looking toward the future, with the digital infrastructure provided by Malaffi, including the recently launched population risk management platform, the Department of Health will have a much clearer picture of the prevalence of chronic diseases or other conditions within the Emirate, that put patients at greater risk of developing severe illness. This information can be used to enhance its current outreach efforts to those individuals, and prioritise vaccine distribution accordingly. 

It is thanks to the foresight and strategic investments in such innovation that the UAE is one of the world leaders in COVID-19 vaccination. Malaffi is proud to play a supporting role in its success. 

The information available in Malaffi and its population risk management tools will also contribute significantly to any advanced systems tailored for syndromic and pandemic surveillance and response. Such systems will be of the utmost value for early alerts and increased readiness to handle any potential future outbreak for the local and global population's safety, ensuring Abu Dhabi remains at the forefront of public health.