x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 July 2017

Paediatrics boost for Emirati student medics

Emiratis will soon get the opportunity to participate in paediatric sub-specilaity programmes abraod.

ABU DHABI //Emiratis will get the chance to pursue paediatric sub-specialities abroad thanks to fellowship programmes with the US Children's National Medical Centre.

This would help meet the growing demand for paediatric care, said Hatem Al Ameri, manager of the professional licensing department at the Health Authority-Abu Dhabi (Haad).

Specialities students can pursue will include endocrinology, gastroenterology and cardiology.

Training will take place at the Sheikh Zayed Campus for Advanced Paediatric Medicine, the centre's primary campus in Washington.

"Because entry requirements for fellowships in the US are different, students will go there three to six months in advance to prepare for entrance exams, collaborate with researchers and publish papers," Dr Al Ameri said.

More details will be announced once the programme is launched.

Haad offers Arab Board-accredited residency programmes in primary care and is working towards approval by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, but fellowships are limited.

"We are facing a shortage of highly qualified physicians and their sustainability within the UAE," Dr Al Ameri said.

"We want to enrich our programmes so that students don't have to travel outside to seek these opportunities. That is very important for long-term results."

Shortages in the paediatric field include cardiac surgeons. Sheikh Khalifa Medical City (SKMC) is the only facility in the country to offer a programme, with only two specialised surgeons and neither are Emirati. The hospital is in the process of hiring a third surgeon.

"It would be extremely important to train local surgeons in this very demanding field," said Dr Haitham Talo, a consultant physician in paediatric cardiology at SKMC.

"The requirements to achieve this goal are extensive and involve multiple aspects, including recruitment of well-qualified and interested candidates and supporting them through training programmes locally and overseas."

But more students are showing a growing interest in health care.

Tanseeq, which funnels Emirati medical students into necessary fields, is proving a success with more than 400 applying for the programme's 120 seats last year. There was just a 30 per cent occupancy rate when it launched in 2010.

"The response has been excellent," Dr Al Ameri said. "We want physicians our country can depend on."

mismail@thenational.ae