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23 Apr 2001. 29 Muharram, 1422

Scholar plans N-medicine department

By a staff reporter

THE world may be his oyster, but for UAE national research scholar, Dr Saleh Al Yafei, his dream project involves establishing a nuclear medicine department right here in the UAE, with advanced technologies like the Positron Emission Tomography (PET) imaging being used to diagnose diseases, instead of more conventional CT Scans and MRI Scans.

Dr Yafei, who was sent to Japan in 1995 on a Japanese non-degree research scholarship which is awarded to two UAE nationals every year, studied at the Gunma University School of Medicine in Japan, and recently received his Ph.D in Nuclear Medicine.

He also holds Bachelor of Health Sciences in Nuclear Medicine degree from the University of Louisville in the United States of America.

Having worked in the capital's Al Jazira Hospital's Nuclear Medicine Department before his departure for Japan, Dr Yafei said that PET imaging was a high resolution, sensitive imaging technique for the early diagnoses of different diseases.

Dr Yafei, whose research thesis for his doctorate was on 'Image Fusion System Using PACS for MRI, CT and PET Images', said that in Japan there were nearly 30 PET Centres, as compared to 125 in the US.

PET images could be used to record the body's physiological functions, such as blood flow, metabolites and tumours, compared to CT and MRI scans, which always examine the structural changes that occur, typically at a later stage of the disease, which can be non-specific about the type of disease, Dr Yafei said. Hence his dream of setting up a PET Centre in the UAE.

Sent to Japan on behalf of the Ministry of Health (MoH), Dr Yafei, now hopes to increase awareness of the benefits of such advanced technology among MoH physicians, administrators, medical personnel, so that it may be introduced in everyday diagnoses of diseases, especially in the field of Radiation Oncology, Neurology and Cardiology.

Asked about his Japanese experience, Dr Yafei said the Japanese people were an extremely hard-working, and helpful community, anxious to lend assistance to tourists.

He admitted that Japanese food was not something he found palatable, but that snag too was resolved with his wife and son coming to stay with him, and make him feel right at home.

He added that Japanese technology in Nuclear Medicine and Scientific Research is on par with , if not better, countries like USA, Germany, and the United Kingdom.

Another UAE national aspirant for the Japanese scholarships for the year 2002, Saif Rashid Al Shamsi, has become the first candidate to complete application procedures with the embassy, and wishes to pursue his Master's degree in International Law.

A graduate in Law and Police Science from the Abu Dhabi Police College, Mr Shamsi said that he was keen to be selected as this would give him a greater exposure to international maritime laws, a subject close to his heart.


International gangs blamed for drug trafficking

By a staff reporter

INTERNATIONAL criminal gangs are behind attempts to spread drugs in the world in general and in the Gulf region in particular in order to make quick money and to destroy the human resources of the targeted countries, according to a senior Abu Dhabi Police officer.

Inaugurating an advanced training course on combating drug at the Interior Ministry on Saturday, Lt-Colonel Hashim Sarhan, acting director-general of the Police College in Abu Dhabi, said the problem of drugs was not confined to a specific country, but all countries in the world were suffering because of it.

The two-week course has been organised by the Interior Ministry, in cooperation with the UN Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention.

Twenty-four officers from AGCC anti-drug departments, including 10 from the UAE, are taking part. Lt-Col Sarhan said the course had been organised in line with efforts made by the UAE anti-drug departments to fight this serious problem and to "curb the spread of this epidemic behind which stand criminal gangs which attempt to circulate this deadly poison in our region to gain profit illegally and deplete the strength and energy of our human resources."

Underlining the need for joint efforts at the national and international levels, Lt-Col Sarhan called for unified policies and programmes to fight the menace. He said that drug-trafficking operations had now taken a new form and dimension, using the latest technology and communications systems. He said the police should cope with these developments to counter the advanced methods used by trafficking gangs.

The official said high income in the UAE, travelling of youths abroad, and geographical location of the country near drug-producing countries had attracted drugs trafficking gangs to target the country.

He said the UAE paid special attention to curb such phenomena, on the instructions of the Interior Minister, Lt-General Dr Mohammed Saeed Al Badi, and the ministry's under-secretary Maj-Gen Shaikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

The inauguration ceremony was also addressed by Nadeem Haj Hamo, Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). He said the course was the first of its kind to be organised by the UNDP, in coordination with the British Police, at the AGCC level.

The course programme covers important subjects including drug combating from an international perspective, the role of regional and international institutions in curbing drug-trafficking, techniques and technologies used in producing drugs and related substances as well as the tools and technologies used in investigation and survillance.


Minister stresses role of technology

By a staff reporter

TECHNOLOGY is assuming a fundamental role in education by offering huge opportunities to explore, convey and create knowledge as never before, according to Shaikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research.

"Technology is assisting in improving personal independence and encouraging creativity and innovation. The emphasis in education is no longer on mastery of subjects, but mastery of learning. We should respond with our best efforts to grasp the opportunity that technology presents for transforming the structure of teaching and learning," he told the E-education Without Borders Conference which opened at the Federal National Council in the capital yesterday.

Shaikh Nahyan stressed that the three-day event aimed to develop a critical vision that would promote student-centered rather than teacher-centered education in the country.

He called on around 300 students from 47 countries participating in the event to closely discuss and understand how computer networks can affect the nature of learning and the future relationship between students and colleges.

[We want to build partnership relations with friendly countries in the e-education field to enhance this kind of education in the country in addition to assess and develop our e-education programmes and offer advanced training for our students," he said.

Shaikh Nahyan also highlighted the security of the Internet and computer networks to guarantee the safety of e-education.

Some of Internet hackers are only 14 or 15 years old and this represents severe risks on computer networks, he said. The conference will address this issue in detail to ensure the security of future e-education programmes.

Mohammed Khalifa Al Habtoor, FNC Speaker, also addressed the inaugural session highlighting the need to keep abreast with technological developments to avoid isolation from the rest of the world.

"The FNC sponsored this event to affirm its continuous interest in educational issues to support human resources development and prepare required manpower to promote the development process in the country," he said.

He pointed out that despite differences in cultures and civilisations of the participants, all had common interests and concerns about the future of education.

The conference was organised by Abu Dhabi Men's College students. Students from universities and educational institutes world across are actively taking part in the conference delivering lectures and holding discussions.

Several wide ranging topics including the use of technology in education fostering online education in the developing world, globalisation of education alservices and challenges to strategic management, as well as the quality of teaching and learning through e-education programmes were addressed.

The agenda also includes discussions on technological perspective of building an e-education system and explanation of technological practices in Internet education as well as means of expanding education beyond national boundaries through the Internet, networking inside universities and learning to live in the e-world.


New health and environment office

By a staff reporter

DUBAI Municipality has set up a new Health and Environment Education Office under its organisational structure with the objective of educating the public on important environment and health matters.

Qassim Sultan, Director General of Dubai Municipality, issued an administrative order on the establishment of the new office whose prime task is to implement the general policy and strategies of the civic body in the field of raising the level of awareness about health and environment among different segments of the society.

The office, which will report to the assistant director general for environment and public health affairs, will also propose and implement plans, work programmes and an annual budget to carry out environment and health awareness programmes as well as other related services in an efficient and effective way.

Another important task of the office will be to conduct field surveys and studies to evaluate the services provided by various administrative units of Dubai Municipality in the fields of health, hygiene and environment safety and the level of public satisfaction over these services.

In coordination with the concerned administrative units, the office will identify crucial health and environment problems facing the community and lay down the necessary solutions for them through special awareness campaigns and with participation of the community.

To expand the awareness of the public in the field of public health and environment safety, the office will undertake awareness programmes through schools, public places, NGOs, clubsEetc. It will also coordinate and cooperate with specialized technical cadres and institutions inside the municipality and outside to organize various activities and celebrations on special occasions like the National Environment Day, Municipalities and Environment Week, the Earth Day, Occupational Safety Day, World Environment Day, Clean Up the World, and World Nutrition Day.

To use in such programmes, the office will produce documentary films and slides, and print brochures, bulletins and booklets.

As per the decision, the office will also coordinate with the local media to spread environment and health awareness and hold seminars on major environment issues to facilitate exchange of information, expertise and visit by experts.

Waste collection

The waste services section at the environment department of Dubai Municipality collected 3,36,000 tonnes of waste from Deira, Bur Dubai and suburbs during the month of March, according to the monthly report of the section.

The waste services section is currently monitoring the procedures followed by various industrial and trading houses in disposing of the hazardous waste generated by them. The section ensures that these procedures are in line with the approved rules and guidelines for waste management in Dubai.

The report further notes that as part of the Target 555 programme, the section, in coordination with private companies and establishments, has recycled 3,762 tonnes of paper waste and cartons, 29 tonnes of plastic, seven tonnes of aluminum, 13 tonnes of glass and 178 barrels of oil residues.

Inspectors of the section have issued 603 fines to individuals and companies for violating the local order (No.28/85) pertaining to the general cleanliness in the emirate of Dubai.

The violations included littering in the streets, pouring water into the roads and improper transportation of waste and other materials. From various venues of the Dubai Shopping Festival, the section has removed 1,498 of solid waste and 2,128,000 litres of liquid waste.

The section has also attended to 148 complaints from the public with regard to the waste services.


Consumer body official cautions on GM food

By a staff reporter

GENETICALLY-MODIFIED food could be carrying several risks to public health and environment in addition to its religious and ethical implications, according to Hasan Al Kuthairi, Assistant Secretary General of the Arab Consumers Protection Society.

Addressing a women's conference in Abu Dhabi yesterday, he said that research centres and producers of genetically-modified food should present accurate and full information about the risks through detailed studies and analyses to ensure the safety of foodstuff consumed by people around the world.

"The genetic engineering of food depends on restructuring the DNA of crops to introduce some positive characteristics in the new crops which are not present in the original.

But primary assessments give indicators of several risks for consumers of the food," he said.

Such foodstuff may cause allergy while some may resist antibiotics and this could pose severe health hazards Environmentally, interference with the DNA can lead to imbalance in the biological diversity which may have a negative impact on natural resources in general, he said.

Mr Kuthairi pointed out that religious forums worldwide do not support such operations and considered it as intervention in God's creations. "During the restructuring of the DNA, scientists may use genes from some forbidden animals such as pigs so there is an ethical implication of the legality to eat such food," he added.

He called on the government to enforce laws to protect consumers after studying experiences of other countries in the field..


Urdu poet Aali gets ARY literary award

By a staff reporter

PROMINENT Pakistani writer and columnist Jamiluddin Aali has been selected for the ARY Literary Award for the year 2000-2001.

The award was instituted by ARY Gold last year and the first recipient was writer Hameed Kashmiri. Aali will receive the award at a ceremony on May 3 at Le Meridien Hotel Dubai.

The award ceremony will be presided over by Hameed Kashmiri.

A panel of five literary figures from various parts of Pakistan - Taj Seed from Peshawar, Hakeem Baloch from Quetta, Dr A. Ansari and Mehmood Shaam from Karachi and Ather Javed from Lahore selected Aali for his lifetime services to Pakistani literature.