New programme by UAE health ministry will see nine hospitals providing screening services

Dubai: Newborn babies will be screened for critical congenital heart disease (CCHD) under a new programme launched by the Ministry of Health and Prevention (MOHAP), an official said on Wednesday.

The ministry is equipping nine hospitals across five emirates where all newborns delivered at these hospitals will now be screened using Eve, a critical CCHD newborn screening application.

This will be the first large-scale worldwide installation of Eve on Rad-97 Pulse CO-Oximeters from Masimo, the global health technology company.

In a statement, the ministry said “global statistics indicate that congenital heart disease is a common birth defect, affecting approximately eight new births per 1,000 live births. Failure to detect critical congenital heart disease can lead to critical complications that threaten the patients life.”

The ministry said it has put in place necessary logistical and technical infrastructure for the effective implementation of the programme, which includes providing trained personnel and the required medical devices to hospitals providing delivery services, across six emirates, to cover 50 per cent of the population of the country.

Early examination of congenital heart defects takes three minutes, using the latest international devices, and is done within 24 hours of delivery.

The programme was inaugurated at the Sharjah Training and Development Centre by Dr Yousuf Mohammad Al Serkal, assistant undersecretary of the Hospitals Sector; Dr Kalthoom Mohammad, director of the Hospitals Department; Stacey Orsat, Massimo president for Europe, Middle East & Africa; and Dr Sumaya Al Zarouni, technical director of Al Qassimi Hospital & CCHD programme director.

Dr Al Serkal pointed out that the aim of the Newborn Critical Congenital Heart Screening Programme is to ensure that all affected infants receive appropriate confirmatory testing, counselling, and treatment according to the latest evidence and guidelines.

He said the programme is crucial for reducing infant mortality and morbidity in babies with heart malformations and easing the financial, social and psychological burden on patients and their families owing to the prohibitive costs of heart surgeries.

He added that the ministry proposes to set up a database of children with congenital heart defects and develop clinical performance indicators to monitor the progress of the programme.

Dr Al Serkal said: “This programme has been approved by several scientific organisations and global entities such as the American Association of Paediatric. It is already being implemented in many countries of the world, such as the United States, Sweden, Germany and Denmark. With MOHAP adopting this programme, [the] UAE has also taken its place among developed countries that provide CCHD screening for newborns. This programme aims to enhance health services in the ministrys hospitals and give them a cutting edge.”

Dr Mohammad said a new smart app has been developed to help health professionals record information and data of children with congenital heart defects, so as to create a standardised database and put in place clinical performance indicators to track the progress of the programme.

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