Abu Dhabi's Oldest Hospital Closes Down

Excerpts from UAE Media

Abu Dhabi's Oldest Hospital Closes Down

Abu Dhabi - Jan 30:  In cooperation with Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (SEHA), Sheikh Khalifa Medical City - managed by Cleveland Clinic - would like to notify the community of Abu Dhabi on the upcoming closure of the Emergency Department and Renal Unit at the Central Hospital, after four decades of excellent service.

These changes follow the upcoming plans of renovating SKMC facilities. These departments will be relocated to new locations immediately. As an alternative center for urgent care, the Khalidiyah Urgent Care Center will be opened on the 7th of February 2008- an ultra-modern Urgent Care Center while the Renal Unit will be relocated to a newly renovated ward in the Medical Pavilion (previously known as Al Jazeerah Hospital) in addition to the existing Renal Unit at the Outpatient Specialty Clinics of SKMC.

With the closure of the Central Hospital Emergency Department and the opening of the new Khalidiyah Urgent Care Center, Sheikh Khalifa Medical City (SKMC) will offer the public three options for patients previously treated at the Central Emergency. It is vital to the public to know the medical cases that should visit each of the following venues.

For EMERGENCIES, patients should go directly to Sheikh Khalifa Medical City's Emergency Department (ED).

These would include life-threatening cases such as: - allergic reactions - chest pain - difficulties in breathing - fever in young infants - poisoning - medications overdose - seizures - broken bones - Motor vehicle trauma - serious burns - serious wounds - head injuries - vomiting and diarrhea in young children - severe abdominal pain Stressing the importance of public awareness on this significant change, Dr. Kenneth Ouriel, CEO of SKMC, stated that the healthcare profession has an obligation to educate the community about the best venues for non-urgent and urgent problems. We are working to increase public awareness through various printed materials and publicity to ensure that medical care of patients is not affected by the closing of Central Hospital.

The Emergency department will prioritize serious versus less serious emergencies, providing transportation to the patients from the ED at SKMC to the Urgent Care Center for non-urgent cases who initially visit the ED at SKSP.

He added "the new Khalidiyah Urgent Care Center is modernly equipped and provides a friendly environment for patients receiving medical treatment in the community. The closure of the Central hospital and opening of the new Urgent Care Center will allow us to provide advanced emergency and urgent care services at the highest standard in both locations." Dr Ouriel said "SKMC is committed to raising the standards of health care services at its facilities to levels practiced around the world. We would like to thank our patients and staff during the transitional phase".


Indian 'agents' thrive on relaxed emigration norms

UAE - Jan 30: RELAXATION of Indian emigration rules that obviates the need of emigration clearance for people travelling on visit visas has become the latest vehicle for smuggling manpower to Iraq.

India relaxed its emigration rules in October 2007 by scrapping the mandatory clearance required for even those travelling abroad on visit visas if they did not have an "Emigration Clearance Not Required" stamp on their passports.

Passports of those who do not have a minimum educational qualification of Class 10 are stamped "Emigration Clearance Required." That meant everyone in the category had to seek the nod of one of the eight Protectorates of Emigrants scatted around the vast country before travelling overseas.

But when such a mandatory requirement came as a hindrance for even people visiting their spouses, children, or family members, the government relaxed the rule. "This relaxation has been a blessing for genuine travellers who can now travel on visit visas without emigration clearance," said BS Mubarak, consul for labour and welfare at the Consulate General of India in Dubai.

He said the rule was amended to facilitate easy travel. But cases of misuse have been reported like in any other facility.

Recruitment agents charge hefty fee from these job-seekers who dare to risk their lives in quest of the greenback they are promised, and put them in transit camps in Dubai or neighbouring emirates before shifting them to Iraq.

The so called recruitment happens mainly in the economically backward districts of Andhra Pradesh. That people from there already fuel the engines of the labour-intensive real-estate growth in the Gulf region works as a cue for job-seekers trying their luck in the Middle East.

Although an official count of Indians caught in the Iraq web is impossible since the country does not allow its citizens to travel there, rough estimates from victims indicate the total could be in thousands.

The most recent case, reported by The Gulf Today on Jan.22, was of two workers from Andhra Pradesh who were stranded in Kish island after being sent on a visa run when their Dubai visit visa expired. Just when they thought their nine-month ordeal was over when their "agent" faxed their visas to Kish, they were detained on arrival at Dubai International airport since the documents were fakes. The two were later deported to India at the cost of Indian Embassy.

An eight-member group of workers from Karimnagar and Nizamabad districts of Andhra Pradesh is now waiting for their promised jobs in Iraq. Five of the group, Brahmaiah, Ganesh, Durga Prasad Reddy, Vangala Srinivasa, and Kashi Ram, told this newspaper that they have been housed in Sharjah by their agent. Each of them paid Rs180,000 (around Dhs17,000) to a point-man in Hyderabad to land, what they believed, dream jobs that could take their families out of poverty.

Hailing from some of the most backward Indian districts, these men have borrowed heavily from local moneylenders since institutional loan demands procedures. With two younger sisters and ageing parents to look after, Ganesh who is all of 19 is willing to risk his life in Iraq. He, like others, was lured by higher wages offered in Iraq.

Defiant when told India does not allow its nationals to work in Iraq, the slightly built man for whom even facial hair seems to be a luxury was gung-ho about doing the next mile to reach Iraqi shores.

The others with him are older and seemingly apprehensive of the soup they have landed in. "We have to raise the money we owe moneylenders back home," said one of them in tone that carried more of helplessness than enthusiasm.

The modus operandi of the so called agents back in India seems to be to ferry aspiring migrants to various cities before putting them on cheap flights somewhere to the Gulf. This apparently helps the "agents" knock on receptive doors at the Indian emigration departments and slip the workers through by bribing officials in case they go by the rule book.

Some of them now in Sharjah had to travel from Hyderabad to Bangalore, a good 400 kilometres away to escape Indian emigration officials. They were then taken to Thiruvananthapuram, the capital of Kerala, and then to Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu, and later to Chennai from where they flew to Dubai.

Playing the waiting game in Sharjah now, one of them is already overstaying. The rest would slip into illegal residency within a week.

The men are now helped by a social worker Dr Shashikala, and Mallikarjuna who himself is a victim of this recruitment network.

The young man was stranded at Sharjah International Airport for six days before getting a visa in October 2007. Having rectified his residency with the help of social worker Dr Shashikala, Mallikarjuna has been assisting the medical doctor to help migrant workers caught in similar webs.

While Durga Prasad Reddy, one of the workers waiting for the Iraq trip, is anxious to travel even to the war zone if it can fetch some money, his wife has been pleading with Dr Shashikala not to let her husband travel to the war-hit nation. "She calls me on phone to prevent this man from going to Iraq," said the medical doctor whom many in distress approach.

But little does Reddy's wife know her husband too would soon become an illegal resident in the UAE if things do not work his way.

While these men await their fortunes to click, there are hundreds or perhaps thousands of their compatriots back in their hometowns selling valuables and real estate, or borrowing money to pay off manpower agents who promise them "dollar" jobs in Iraq, and better lives for their dear ones back home.


New 3 Billion Bridge

Dubai - Jan 30: A new dhs3bn bridge will soon be built across Dubai Creek, the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) announced yesterday - the sixth crossing over the water. The new bridge, which will connect Jeddaf in Bur Dubai with Festival City in Deira, looks set to become the world’s longest arch bridge when it is completed in 2012, with construction set to get under way in the coming months.

“The bridge will be completed in six phases with the first phase of work set to begin in March this year,” Mattar Al Tayer, Chairman of the board and executive director of the RTA, said. The 1,600-metre long structure will have six lanes in each direction and is aimed to ease the traffic flow along the banks of the water as well as serving the new developments springing up Creek-side.

“The new bridge will provide access to an opera project coming up on an artificial island in the middle of the creek. It will also have a metro station, an abra station and special lanes earmarked for pedestrians and bicycles,” Al Tayer said. The project involves the construction of 12 kilometres of roads, including 22 intersections and junctions linking it with Sheikh Zayed Road, Oud Metha Road and Ras Al Khor Road.

Al Tayer also revealed that additional projects planned across the Creek, including crossings at Shindagha and close to the Sheraton in Deira, will help to reduce traffic congestion considerably over the next couple of years. The RTA also revealed that his organisation is looking at a number of ways to reduce traffic congestion.

“I cannot tell you whether we are going to have more Salik gates or not. We will inform people in advance if we are going to have more Salik gates. Salik has been successful and has benefited a large number of people,” he said.


Accidents cause morning logjam

Dubai/Sharjah - Jan 30: FIVE acccidents in four hours brought traffic on Dubai-Sharjah roads to a standstill on Tuesday morning.

Roads linking Sharjah to Dubai were blocked due to congestion in four vital areas.

Traffic police tried to solve the problem by suggesting alternate routes but it took some time before traffic gained normalcy.

Motorists were seen munching sandwiches on the pavement as the roads were reduced to a virtual parking lot.

The snarl-up that continued from 6am to 10am upset the schedule of many school and office-goers.

A number of readers shared their plight with The Gulf Today and said that they had to apologise for being late.

Major Saif Mehir Al Mazrou'ai, deputy chief of Dubai General Traffic Department confirmed that the accidents was the cause of the logjam.

In one of the accidents an Asian was hit while crossing the road. He was later hospitalised.

The second was a collision that blocked the Sharjah-Dubai road.

The lack of exits till before Garhoud Bridge aggravated the problem and prevented police patrols from reaching the affected locations.

The congestion worsened as two trucks broke down in seperate incidents in the airport tunnel and near Mazaya Centre near Sheikh Zayed Road.

Traffic on Emirates Road were affected as a bus collided with three cars.

Mazrou'ai said: "These five accidents took place at morning rushhours and resulted in blocking of these roads. Traffic policemen used horns to guide drivers to use alternative roads."

He said the situation began to ease after the vehicles involved in accidents were towed out.

The Dubai Police operations room was flooded with calls from people who couldn't report for work on time.


Grading system: CBSE plan falls flat

UAE - Jan 30: The long-awaited plans of Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) to implement Grading system in class X for the academic year 2007-08 seems to have fallen flat. The Board had decided to introduce a nine-point grading scale in class X in order to do away with the stigma associated with students being marked 'failed.'

CBSE chairman Ashok Ganguly, who made a stop over in Dubai on Tuesday on his way to Bahrain, said the Board has to take the opinion of various parties into consideration.

He said that there are more than 40 examination boards in India. To start the grading system, the CBSE was aiming to take along at least 8-9 boards.

"Eight boards are almost ready to implement the grading system, but we have to get nodding from another important stakeholder ­ Ministry of Human Resources Development. We are waiting for the official approval by the ministry. We can not implement it without the official nod," he said.

Under the proposed nine point grading system, students will be required to qualify grades in four of the five subjects to get promoted to the next level. The main highlight of the system is that the students' mark sheets will no longer carry 'pass' or 'fail' remark and students would also be entitled to try four options to improve their grades in two subsequent years.

Speaking about the initiatives, Ganguly pointed out that the Board is set to include languages for class X board examinations very soon. The Board introduced internal evaluation in Social Science, followed by Science and Mathematics. The initiative is expected to help students to feel a little relaxed and score better marks as well.

"We had introduced internal evaluation in Social Science in 2006 and last year along with the last subject, Science and Mathematics have been included in that fold. Now we are going to include languages to the list," he said.

However, he stressed on the need of establishing good co-relation between internal evaluation, practical and theory examination, which would increase the credibility of internal evaluation.

Ganguly rejected people's apprehension about negative impacts of the Board's decision to allow a student drop mathematics and opt for a more "mellow" subject like computer, music or art if he fails in mathematics in second compartment.

A number of educationists have opined that the Indian education system is respected worldwide and fiddling with it will mean lowering of standards. Many of them believe that the decision means denigrating the whole system and this may, in future, have global ramifications. While parents believe that children will have an escape route. Earlier, a do-or-die approach saw many students through the finals. Now just the more serious ones would be bothered.

"You have to provide them flexibility. We do not want to dilute the strength of our system, but bringing global opportunity to them," he said.




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