Organ transplants are becoming accessible in the UAE
In the past, many patients in need of an organ transplant would need to fly to another country in order to receive the required treatment.
However, this is set to change, following The UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention’s decree that organ transplantation can be facilitated in the country, which was also supported by His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the President of the UAE.
Incorporated for living donors who wish to donate, the Decree now covers three main provisions: death resulting from cardiac-respiratory arrest, death resulting from complete loss of brain functions and paediatric brain death, according to The Khaleej Times. The decree was established in consultation with the General Authority for Islamic Affairs and Endowments.
Set to become available within UAE hospitals, hundreds of medical staff are undergoing the required training in order to provide the required treatment, in addition to building organ transplant units on site and ordering essential equipment in order to undertake such procedures.
Taking effect earlier this year, the Organ Transplant Law will see the possibility of common transplantations, such as kidney and liver transplants, as well as bone marrow transplants. Approximately 2,000 patients in the UAE are on dialysis and waiting for a transplant, according to a recent survey.
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Upon death, the patient will undergo a number of tests, including tissue matches, in order to match with a patient in need of a transplant. The process will therefore significantly reduce illegal transplant procedures, which have long been occurring behind closed doors. However, with the new decree in place, offenders will now face life imprisonment.
“It will significantly reduce the number of patients needing to travel abroad for transplants,” said Dr Muhammad Badar Zaman, Head of Transplantation Services at Seha’s Sheikh Khalifa Medical City.
Crucially, the country is now beginning to ask families of patients who are critically ill in hospital, whether they would allow their loved one’s organs to be donated, in order to reduce current waiting lists and provide increased quality of life for other patients.
Dr Tomislav Mihaljevic, CEO Cleveland Abu Dhabi has said: “Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi is developing transplant facilities to support a full range of transplant operations and to provide patients with a high level of care closer to home.
We are working to contribute to the national transplant programme, in-line with recent changes to the legal framework, and – while the donor program will not be in place over night – in time we will be able to promote a wider spectrum of transplant options within the UAE.”
Citizens in the country will now, similarly to the UK, be able to register an Emirates ID card and highlight their donor status. However, since its inception, significant interest has been attained by the public in the UAE.
"We want to establish an environment where people will be motivated to donate their organs to help thousands of patients in need of transplants,” commented Dr Amin Hussein Al Amiri, Assistant Undersecretary for Public Health Policy and Licensing Sector. “It will reduce burden on hospitals, lessen costs on the state and society and urge insurance companies to cover organ transplants,"
The move will also be aligned with the country’s 2021 Vision, which focuses on improving its health care system and the delivery or personalised, patient-centric services to its patients, adopting the highest standards.
Advances in health "must ensure self-sovereign identity"
The UK government has announced that from September onwards COVID-19 vaccine passports will be necessary to gain entry into places with large crowds, such as nightclubs.
This has reignited the debate between those who believe having proof of vaccinations will enable people to gather in public places and travel safely, and those who view the digital certificates as an attack on personal freedom.
The arguments have increased in intensity since the recent announcement to drop COVID-19 restrictions in England, in a move to reopen the economy that has attracted fierce criticism both domestically and overseas.
Cross-party ministers are set to defy the government’s latest plans to introduce vaccine passports over civil liberties concerns. A number of MPs have already signed the Big Brother Watch declaration against “Covid status certification to deny individuals access to general services, businesses or jobs” in recent months.
However Mark Shaw, CEO of Tento Applied Sciences, says the Big Brother Watch campaign is based on false assumptions. “Big Brother Watch puts forward a compelling argument based around civil liberties, but some of the assumptions they make are simply incorrect” he says.
“For example, the BBW campaign claims that all Covid passes are discriminatory, counterproductive and would lead to British citizens having to share personal health information with anyone in authority, from bouncers to bosses. However, there are already privacy-first digital wallets that give individuals the freedom to store and share anonymised medical documents, work credentials and other types of documentation quickly, simply, and securely.
“I wholeheartedly agree that individuals should not be required to share their own personal health information with unknown third parties or with anyone in authority who demands it" Shaw adds. "But I strongly disagree with the suggestion that ‘events and businesses are either safe to open for everyone, or no one’. It creates a false dichotomy that either everyone is safe, or nobody is safe. If employers or event organisers don’t take action to properly manage workplace or venue safety, then they risk curtailing the safety and freedom of movement for the majority."
The subject of personal health data is under scrutiny in the UK at the moment, following controversial plans for the NHS to share patient data with third parties. These have been put on hold following public criticism.
Meanwhile a new report has found that the majority of the British public is willing to embrace digital healthcare tools such as apps and digital therapies prescribed by a trusted healthcare professional.
Shaw adds: “The vital point to make is this: innovations in health technology must ensure self-sovereign identity. This means the data held about an individual is owned by the individual and stored on their device. And, in the case of medical data, that data can be delivered from healthcare professionals to the device in an encrypted format, and the user chooses how they share their information."