x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

UAE medics on call to offer worldwide aid

Within hours of a humanitarian disaster, field hospital units could be dispatched to provide medical care.

Around 6,500 people have received free treatment at Emirates International Humanitarian Mobile Hospital in Juba, Sudan.
Around 6,500 people have received free treatment at Emirates International Humanitarian Mobile Hospital in Juba, Sudan.

Abu Dhabi // Medical teams from the UAE's first civilian field hospital will soon be poised to respond to humanitarian disasters anywhere in the world. Following a successful four-month stint in Sudan, the Emirates International Humanitarian Mobile Hospital is forming an emergency response unit. Teams specialising in trauma and critical care could be deployed within hours of a disaster.

"For example, if there is an earthquake, and the country calls for emergency aid, we could dispatch within the first 12 hours, which are critical. We have the manpower and equipment," said Dr Adel al Shamry, the chief executive of the Zayed Giving Initiative and the hospital's executive director. The medics and their equipment would be flown into emergency situations - both man-made and natural disasters - where they would be based for up to two weeks.

"The whole concept matured and developed after the great success of the mobile hospital," Dr al Shamry said. "Now we have the know-how, the resources and the experience." The mobile hospital, which aims to bring first-rate medical care to remote parts of the world, just completed its first mission, a four-month stint in Juba, in southern Sudan. A collapsible structure was set up, creating a field hospital with wards, an intensive care unit, an operating theatre and a pharmacy. The 50 international and Emirati staff treated more than 6,500 people, Dr al Shamry said.

The group will be deployed to Morocco in January for another four months, before moving to either Syria or Lebanon. The new project, the UAE Emergency Response Initiative, would temporarily dispatch medical staff from the mobile hospital during humanitarian crises. Travel would be arranged through the Zayed Giving Initiative's partnerships with airlines, or on commercial flights if possible. "The transport is not an obstacle," Dr al Shamry said.

The response teams will be ready to be deployed from the start of next year. The project will be launched during the Arab Giving Forum, being held in the capital in January. Dr al Shamry and the response initiative are also working at the local level, improving training in readiness to tackle potential emergencies at home. Community, medical, and search-and-rescue emergency response teams have been established.

In the past three months, a pilot project has trained more than 1,000 people in emergency response techniques. The initiative will be run by a board comprised of members from several partner organisations, including the ministries of Health, Interior and Defence, the UAE Red Crescent Authority, the Zayed Foundation for Charitable and Humanitarian Works and the Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan Foundation.

In 2003, Dr al Shamry, an Emirati heart surgeon, launched the Zayed Giving Initiative to promote sustainable community development, health care and education, and volunteering. International and local projects have been spawned through the group, including the UAE Emergency Response Initiative; Giving Heart, which provides free heart surgeries around the world; and Giving Hand, which sends paediatric surgeons to remote locations.