40% of UAE population suffers from blood disorders

Friday, Mar 08, 2013

Dubai: With 40 per cent of the UAE’s population suffering from some type of blood disorder, the third DHA Haematology Conference

opened on Thursday with the aim of combining the latest research, statistics, and exploring global developments in the field of haematology.

More than 300 international and regional medical experts are attending and participating in the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) Haematology Conference taking place at the Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi.

Khowla Bel Houl, Director of the Thalassaemia Centre, who was present at the opening of the conference explained that with just under half of the UAE population suffering from blood disorders, blood cancer is considered the fourth highest cause of death in the UAE.

“Anaemia prevalence is high here especially iron deficiency — 40 per cent of the population have some type of anaemia,” she said

Aiming to increase awareness about blood disorders in the UAE, Khowla said that while more women and children are getting screened at the paediatrics and gynaecology level, premarital screening is also being carried out.

“Premarital screening is implemented through the DHA [Dubai Health Authority] where individuals are screened for anaemia, blood pressure, haemoglobin and other aspects,” said Khowla who pointed out that premarital screening was made compulsory in 2006.

Regardless of nationality, any couple who decides to get married in the UAE and have to submit their papers to the government have to undergo the screening process, she said.

“The degrees of implementation however varies from one emirate to another and there is a variation in screening depending on nationality,” she said, pointing out that other risk factors also determine the smart screening process.

“Prematrial screening for 10,000 people took place between 2006-2010 of which 4,000 to 5,000 were UAE nationals,” added Khowla. Organised by the Emirates Society of Haematology and supported by the DHA, the three-day conference also includes speakers from different medical fields such as gynaecology, cancer, and paediatrics along with two workshops on haematology and transfusion medicine.

Participating for the second time in the haematology conference, Ayalew Tefferi, a Professor of medicine and haematology at the Mayo Clinic Transplant Centre in Minnesota said that while the conference brings together medical experts from multiple disciplines, it is an important meeting for the development of treatment of blood disorders in the UAE and the regional community. “The conference is hard work by a few people who are educationally committed and have the ability to attract prominent regional and international experts in this field,” he added.

Tefferi, who is an adult haematologist primary involved in blood cancers, will talk about two different groups of blood cancers, their diagnosis and means of treatment in regards to new developments in the drugs for these diseases.

Another expert who will be speaking at the conference, Shakila Khan, a paediatric haematologist at Mayo clinic said she will be discussing different blood disorders in children and the development of treatments. “Most of the blood diseases in paediatrics like leukaemia are very curable with the right treatment,” she said. Also looking into the survivor rates, Khan will focus on the treatments undergone by long-time survivors who have experienced transplant, radiation, and chemotherapy treatments.

Other speakers at the conference include Alan Burnett, Head of Haematology at the Department of Medical Genetics, Haematology and Pathology in the School of Medicine at Cardiff University in Wales, and Ali Tahir, Professor of Medicine at the American University of Beirut Medical Centre.

By Jumana Khamis Staff Reporter

Gulf News 2013. All rights reserved.


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