x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Three-month-old UAE medical charity is two-thirds of way to raising Dh100m

The Al Jalila Foundation aims to research diseases, offer scholarships for medical students and provide healthcare for those unable to pay for medical treatment.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President Ruler of Dubai, and his youngest daughter, Sheikha Al Jalila, at the official launch of the Al Jalila Foundation in April. Wam
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President Ruler of Dubai, and his youngest daughter, Sheikha Al Jalila, at the official launch of the Al Jalila Foundation in April. Wam

DUBAI // Al Jalila Foundation launched three months ago with ambitious plans to raise Dh100 million in its first year – but has already nearly hit this target.

The money will help fund improvements in the UAE's healthcare sector and boost crucial medical research.

The response, said Dr Abdulkareem Sultan Al Olama, the foundation's chief executive, has been staggering.

The Dubai-based not-for-profit medical charity – which aims to research diseases, offer scholarships to medical students and provide healthcare for those who cannot afford it – is already nearly two-thirds of the way towards meeting its funding goal thanks to donations from the public.

"We have managed to raise more than Dh60m since April thanks to support from philanthropists and the generosity of others in the UAE," Dr Al Olama said.

Many donations came during Ramadan, a month of giving.

"These philanthropists, they believe in the mission of Al Jalila Foundation to develop health care in the UAE," Dr Al Olama said.

"They know, for example, that diabetes is very common in the UAE and the only way to treat diabetes is through medical research."

Most large donations have come  from generous Emiratis but funds have also come from philanthropists from other countries, including India.

"We accept donations though our online portal or though SMS," Dr Al Olama said. "So we are receiving donations from different nationalities who believe in our mission and our values, and we are very grateful for them."

Al Jalila Foundation was launched by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, who named the charity after his youngest daughter.

It was established with three fundamental pillars in mind: health care, medical education and research. The charity will drive research into chronic disorders that are prevalent in the UAE.

"Al Jalila Foundation is unique in that we are purely a medical organisation where we invest this money in research such as diabetes, hypertension, genetic disorders, thalassaemia," he said.

One initiative, Ta'alouf (Harmony), aims to improve the lives of children with special needs.

"Part of Ta'alouf is the parents' training programme," Dr Al Olama said. "What we have noticed in the UAE is that there are many centres that treat these kids and there is treatment in schools but, at home, there is discontinuity in treatment.

"We are taking those parents who are interested and we send them to a specialised training course. The response has been overwhelming since we launched it in early June."

The foundation also aims to cultivate strong, home-grown talent by covering the cost of courses in several medical subjects. Scholarships will be available to promising students – both Emiratis and expatriates – who are interested in pursuing a career in medicine.

"This is what the foundation is trying to do: train scientists to carry out medical research. For example, research how they can prevent diabetes, how they treat diabetes," Dr Al Olama said. "With medical research and education, you are improving the quality of health care. You are giving patients more access to better treatment."

Dr Al Olama said he wanted to create "a pool of scientists", while the ultimate aim was to "put the UAE on the map for research and development in health care".

"In five years, I would like when someone thinks of medical research, the foundation comes to mind. That is our focus, building a community for medical research," he said. "We would like to attract the best minds around the world to come to the UAE and work with us on the advancement of health care."

Specific spending schemes and research topics will be announced after a meeting of the foundation's advisory council later in the year.

Prospective donors and partners should contact the foundation at info@aljalilafoundation.ae or call 800 ALJALILA (25525452).

 

jbell@thenational.ae