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Excerpts from UAE Dailies

Dubai Hospital proceeds with first 'bionic ear' implant surgery on UAE national

Dubai - Nov. 15: Doctors at Dubai Hospital have implanted a bionic ear in a 35-year-old woman, the first surgery of its kind in the UAE public healthcare sector, paving the way for more procedures.

Cochlear implant, surgeries have been done before in the UAE, but only in private hospitals.

Dr Hussain Abdul Rahman, head of the Ear, Nose and Throat department at the Department of Health and Medical Services (Dohms), told Gulf News that the woman could no longer hear, even with her hearing aid.

"We did the surgery to give her the ability to hear. Her hearing had deteriorated [too much for the hearing aid]," he said.

Doctors then decided the UAE national woman was an ideal candidate for the devicet.

Dr Abdul Rahman said the woman was doing well and undergoing auditory therapy, to teach her how to use her new ability.

He added that the success of the surgery meant Dubai Hospital could include it in its list of services, performing it daily.

"We plan to do the surgery for adults and children, [who can be] as young as six months. The younger, the better," he said, cautioning that not everyone with a hearing problem was suitable.

Unlike a hearing aid, which amplifies sound, a cochlear implant works by stimulating functioning auditory nerves with electrical impulses. It is used to help the profoundly deaf.

The cochlear implant costs Dh110,000 in the public sector, compared to more than Dh200,000 in the private sector.


New camp checks

Dubai - Nov. 15:A newly formed committee will pay random visits to labour camps to inspect health, safety and living conditions following Sheikh Mohammad’s recent directive calling to “preserve the dignity” of foreign workers. Salim Al Mesmar, the director of the public health department in Dubai Municipality said today’s inspection of workers’ housing in the Al Qusais labour camp, where several companies’ workers live, would be the first of many to check for hygienic and safety standards.

Our inspectors will have to check a list of requirements and companies that rate low will suffer legal penalties,” Al Mesmar said. Those penalties include warnings and fines that range from dhs500 to dhs500,000. Hadi Ghaemi, a researcher with Human Rights Watch (HRW), which recently released a report critical of UAE companies, said the move is a positive step in the right direction, but added: “Unless the results of the inspections along with punitive action taken against violating companies are publicised, this won’t make any difference.”

According to the US-based organisation, more than 75 per cent of camps inspected by the Permanent Committee for Labour Affairs were found to be below government standards, “but the question is, what action is going to be taken against them and how will standards be enforced,” Ghaemi said. Al Mesmar said the committee already has an idea of which companies rate as good, medium or low.

“But we want to catch them red handed,” he said. The committee’s required modifications to existing conditions in camps will be taken up with company directors immediately and followed to ensure the changes have been made, Al Mesmar confirmed.

Another task force will inspect health and safety conditions in factories and workshops while the third will ensure preventive safety measures are enforced at construction sites to reduce injuries and deaths. Ghaemi called on the committee to create a public database with the names of violating companies and any penalties levied against them.

“Transparency would help solve the problem,” he said. Al Mesmar said his committee will file a monthly report to the municipality, but refused to comment on whether those reports would be made public. By Zainab Fattah


Depleted fish stocks will not affect UAE

Dubai - Nov.15: Everything is being done to reduce depleting fish stocks in the UAE with more than half a million fish released into the Gulf annually, according to the Ministry of Environment and Water.

Fish farms in the UAE are working to increase this number to release more fish, mainly sea breams, mullets and rabbit-fish.

The report issued last week by the journal Science claiming that fish could be off the menu in less than 50 years due to over-fishing and depleting fish stocks, has been refuted by fishery officials in Dubai who say the UAE will not be affected.

"We don't believe the report as it doesn't match up with the references that we are getting from abroad. I don't believe the fish stocks are going down that much because most countries are controlling their fish stocks," said Ahmad Al Jinahi, director of the fisheries department at the Ministry of Environment and Water.

He added that fishermen were not reporting that they are catching less fish. "We carried out a survey in 2002 and from our observations the fish stocks are under control. We don't allow big companies with trawlers to operate in the Gulf and there is not the big trade here that is allowed in other countries," said Al Jinahi.

"People fish for their need. Overseas there is a big trading in fish but those companies are not allowed to fish in our waters," he added.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) the report was a global one and no UAE-specific threat exists of fish supplies decreasing.

Kayan Jaff, the UAE representative of the FAO said the UAE is actively working to restock the main stock of certain fish varieties.

"If you took a fish map of the world you would see in certain areas that there is over-fishing but the UAE is not directly or indirectly being affected by this and they have fish farms to repopulate the sea of its consumption," said Jaff.


Mounting garbage sparks eco-concern

Dubai - Nov. 15: The amount of waste collected in Dubai is increasing every year by nearly 20 per cent, triggering calls for more recycling and better management of waste in the UAE.

This is necessary to protect the environment and reduce contamination of land, water and habitats of species, according to international environment experts.

According to Hassan Makii - head of waste services at Dubai Municipality speaking on Tuesday at an environment symposium called Challenges and Threats to the Environment organised by the Environment Centre for Arab Towns - strategies to keep the city clean were being implemented such as fining litter-bugs and anybody disposing waste improperly.

He said that since the inception of the local order, Dubai Municipality had fined 12,000 violators for littering and collected Dh4 million.

Guidelines to stop pollution, services to maintain cleanliness and waste management were being applied in different areas, said Makii. He said the amount of waste increased annually by 18 per cent.

Mismanaging waste can have dire affects on the environment and cause pollution, leaks and contamination to land and water, said Mohammad Raouf, senior environment researcher at the Gulf Research Centre.

"The waste in the GCC is very different to waste in any other part of the world. The industry is growing and there is a lot of waste from the oil industry.

The characteristics of the waste are fluctuating with different quantities and composition every year which poses a big burden on waste management," said Raouf.

He said the high rate of construction and demolition add to the amount of waste produced in the country with no proper plants dealing with this and all construction waste ending up in landfills.

"Landfills then pose problems for water tables and land pollution if they are not properly controlled. Recycling more would also lessen desertification and water pollution problems," said Raouf.

The Minister of Environment and Water, Dr Mohammad Saeed Al Kindi, said it is necessary to benefit from the experiences of advanced countries in waste management and a sustainable method of treatment to protect the environment.



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