ABU DHABI //An initiative in which surgery fees collected from the wealthy are donated to treat underprivileged heart patients will be expanded this year, according to the state news agency Wam.
Emirati, Egyptian and French cardiologists volunteer to operate on wealthy patients, with their surgery fees used to finance heart operations for the underprivileged at public and private hospitals.
Procedures include open heart, endoscopic cardiac surgery and robotic cardiac procedures.
Dozens of wealthy heart patients in the UAE, Egypt and Sudan have volunteered for heart surgery with the International Doctors of Poor People Initiative.
The scheme, initiated by Dr Adel Al Shameri, a UAE cardiology consultant, is in its pilot phase in the three countries.
Many medics have volunteered to take part since the Saudi Arabian scholar, Sheikh Abdullah Al Mutlaq, said zakat charity could be given by healthcare professionals in the form of medical treatment and screenings for the underprivileged.
Medical teams provide free diagnostic, therapeutic, surgical and preventive services to the elderly and children through a mobile clinic and volunteer medical convoys.
The programme is supported by UAE social business entrepreneurs and public and private specialist centres, and work is done in coordination with the Ministry of Health.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide. The UAE has a disproportionate number of heart patients between the ages of 20 to 40, largely due to smoking, stress, poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle.