Thalassemia Centre - Latifa Hospital, Dubai

UAE Awards

Hamdan Award for an Outstanding Clinical Department in the Public Sector in UAE
2005-2006
The Thalassemia Center in Dubai is the only such center in the United Arab Emirates and the Arabian Gulf countries.  TCommencing its services in 1 989, it was then the only such center in the Middle East and the Gulf region. At both the regional and global levels, the Center remained unique in the quality of the services it offered to Thalassemia patients through the years.
In 1994, a decree was issued by HH Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid AI-Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of .Dubai, Minister of Finance and Industry, Chairman of the Department of Health and Medical Services for the building of new premises for the Thalassemia Center and to hold the most up-to-date equipment. In 1 995, HH inaugurated the new premises in the presence of the elite of world-class eminent doctors and scientists during the Third International Pediatrics and Hematology Conferences.
 
The Thalassemia Center in Dubai has since its establishment acquired local, regional and world prestige through its numerous research activities and unprecedented medical breakthroughs achieved in fruitful collaboration with the Genetics Laboratory located in the same building. These breakthroughs have been published in world journals. Six types of hitherto unknown genetic types of Thalassaemia have been discovered in this laboratory. This accomplishment helped facilitate diagnosis and effective management of these types. Meanwhile, the Center and its staff have won several significant awards, and an advanced status at the level of Dubai government departments represented in the Quality Award.
 
The Thalassenmia Center currently has a specialized medical staff consisting of four doctors with extensive experience in genetic blood diseases and Thalassemia. It also has a highly experienced nursing team, especially qualified for such cases. Social workers also have an outstanding role at the Center as they help promote the services offered to patients. Recently, a new division for quality control and quality assurance has been developed with a view to applying world quality criteria and ultimately to obtain accreditation by the Joint Commission for International Accreditation (JCIA).
 
The Center has gained international recognition through the International Thalassemia Association and, the World Health Organization (WHO) both of which consider the Center as one of the best in the world considering the quality of the services it offers free of charge to UAE nationals and residents alike.
 
Accordingly, the Center has been selected as the regional headquarters for the training of medical cadres from different countries of the region in different aspects of Thalassaemiamanagement. Meanwhile, Dubai was selected to organize the Tenth Thalassemia Conference, and the Twelfth Conference of the International Thalassemia Association, an association that includes Thalassemia patients and families as members, in 2006.
 
The Center was the first in the Middle East to genetically identify the sickle cell disease. Moreover, the Center has succeeded in diagnosing hepatitis-C through identifying the diseasecausing virus rather than anti-bodies in the blood. 
Together with the Genetic Lab, the Center is the first in the Gulf region to have undertaken a study to explain the molecular basis of genetic blood diseases, starting with Thalassemia. It is also the first Center to have undertaken special tests on hemoglobin H in the Gulf region through a joint study with the Sultanate of Oman, lasting more than four years. Furthermore, it was the first center to have identified the genetic disorders of more than 200 sickle cell patients in the Gulf region. Additionally, it is the first center in the Gulf region to test DNA by means of novel and innovative ways. 
To these accomplishments should be added the fact that the Center was the first to discover a very high rate of Alpha-Thalassemia in the United Arab Emirates (more than 50 per cent of the population), a disease that leads to mild anemia and used to be wrongly diagnosed in the past as being anemia resulting from lack of iron.
 
Additionally, the Center was the first to discover than one in every 12 nationals in the United Arab Emirates carries Beta-Thalassemia (minor Thalassemia). Moreover, it succeeded in 
collaboration with the Genetics Lab in determining the genetic basis of the G6PD enzyme. It has also conducted a comprehensive study on that enzyme in newborn babies. 
Participation by the Thalassemia Center in the various governmental events in Dubai through the Department of Health and Medical Services has been effective in offering health education and promoting awareness among nationals and residents alike. Examples of such participation are contribution to the Dubai Shopping Festival, Dubai Summer Surprises, and the Month of Offering. 
 
The Center has established cooperation with the various authorities and departments of the state, such as the Dubai Police, Dubai Municipality, and the Ministry of Education. Part of the biology curriculum for the Grade 1 2 has been assigned as comprehensive material on Thalassemia. Moreover, there is scope for extensive cooperation with the Al Ain-based United Arab Emirates University, and several authorities and public welfare societies. An agreement was signed with the Mohamed Bin Rashid Organization for Charity Works whereby the Organization would cover expenses of the treatment of resident Thalassemia patients in order to ensure continuity of such treatment and in the best possible ways.
 
The Center plans to gain GCIA accreditation by the end of 2007, in order to stand on equal footing with the other hospitals of the Department of Health and Medical Services. It also aims at controlling Thalassemia through a national program designed to identify people with Thalassemia trait and eventually to offer integrated genetic consultation thus enhancing awareness of the disease. Over the last three years, the Center has confirmed the possibility of achieving this end by the successful implementation of the first stage of the program, which involved families of Thalassemia patients, ultimately checking the birth of children suffering from the disease.
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