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UAE-funded clinic focuses on children

posted on 28/09/2010: 815 views

More than 3,000 Pakistani children have received free medical care at a paediatric field hospital opened by a UAE-based organisation this month.

The 110-bed UAE International Humanitarian Field Children's Hospital opened on September 12 in the town of Thata, near Karachi, for children under 18 affected by Pakistan's recent floods.

Dr Adel al Shamry, the chief executive of the Zayed Giving Initiative, which is funding the hospital, said the project is the first mobile field unit to cater specifically to the needs of children in a disaster zone.

Millions of children were endangered by the floods, while malnutrition and a lack of clean water is increasing the risk of disease. "The aim was to respond to the needs of the children affected,” Dr al Shamry said from Pakistan on Sunday. "We think we can make a huge difference. Most of the cases we have been seeing are preventable, so early intervention is critical. If not treated, some of the conditions can lead to death.”

The mobile hospital was set up in the middle of a camp for internally displaced people in Thata, an area "highly affected” by the flooding, according to Dr al Shamry, an Emirati heart surgeon who launched the Zayed Giving Initiative in 2003.

The mobile facility, established in partnership with the Pakistani ministry of health, is equipped with emergency and surgical units, a pharmacy, a specialist clinic and a general paediatric ward. In addition to providing on-site care, it has two mobile units. One team travels to the region around Thata to provide medical care, while another runs health awareness clinics and workshops.

Dr al Shamry and his team have launched a satellite paediatric medical centre for children unable to travel to Thata and plan to launch more. Patients who require longer-term care are transferred to government hospitals in Karachi.

The paediatric hospital, under the patronage of Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, widow of the late Sheikh Zayed, was set up as a "satellite” branch of the UAE International Humanitarian Mobile Hospital, Dr al Shamry said.

The UAE International Humanitarian Mobile was initially stationed in Juba, in southern Sudan, for four months last year, and is in the middle of a six-month deployment to Morocco.

The idea for the paediatric hospital is connected to the Zayed Giving Initiative's One Million Giving campaign, which has set a goal of providing medical care to a million children worldwide during the next three years.

So far, Dh25 million has been raised from government, private and NGO donors.

Dr al Shamry and his team expect to remain in the country for six months to a year.

The hospital is staffed by 40 full-time workers, about half of whom were recruited from the local medical community. The hospital also has a network of about 200 volunteers – medical professionals from countries including Australia, the US, the Philippines, Jordan and the UAE – who travel in for short stints.

Dr Nizar Kherallah, a Syrian-American, is among those who has volunteered his time and skills. The 44-year-old Abu Dhabi-based paediatric pneumologist spent several days working at the hospital this month.

"The main reason I went was to help those in need,” he said. "It's my belief everyone has to help when there's a crisis. I also wanted experience dealing with disaster.” – The National


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