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A new seasonal flu device detects and provides results in minutes - picture for illustrative purposes Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: A new device can detect seasonal influenza in less than 13 minutes and provide results in five minutes or less, it was announced at Arab Health on Monday.

The announcement was made by the UAE’s Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP) in cooperation with Abbott Park at the annual health conference being held at Dubai World Trade Centre from Monday to Thursday January 27-30 and involves A, B and ‘Strep A2’ strands of the virus.

MoHAP will be the first to use the device in the region

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved test gives physicians the confidence to make fast clinical decisions and prescribe the proper treatment at an early stage. It also helps curb the improper use of antibiotics, when treatment depends only on the patient’s symptoms.

Dr. Yousuf Al Serkal, Assistant Undersecretary for the Ministry’s Hospitals Sector, said, “The new device, one of the world’s latest in detecting flu type A, B, RSV and Strep A2 bacteria, is a pioneering breakthrough which helps MoHAP raise its healthcare quality and reduce and control infectious diseases.

“Preventing seasonal influenza is one of MoHAP’s strategic priorities, to develop the health system and enhance its efficiency, and to achieve prevention and control of community members from infectious diseases, by raising the efficiency of health practitioners and attracting the best preventive and treatment methods.

Raising awareness

“Our cooperation with the manufacturing company ‘Abbott’ comes as part of MoHAP’s vigorous efforts to enhance innovation in healthcare for respiratory patients and raise awareness about influenza in all its categories, as well as raise the capabilities of doctors and health care professionals, in terms of disease diagnosis, and management and treatment. This falls under MoHAP’s endeavours to develop the results of national indicators in the field of respiratory and chronic diseases to achieve the goals of the National Agenda 2021.”

Dr. Kalthoum Al Baloushi, Director of MoHAP’s Hospitals Administration, said: “The Strep A2 device for the early and rapid diagnosis of seasonal flu and respiratory-track diseases brings together the speed and effectiveness of delivery of results. The tests provided by this device enable clinicians to give the correct diagnosis and the proper treatment in a timely manner.

“It is a quantum leap in the methods of early detection of Bacterial pharyngitis, especially when it comes to giving accurate results, through which doctors can prescribe the proper antibiotic. The device, in more than twice the speed of other molecular tests, is able to partially detect the DNA of group A bacterial streptococcus, which is the main cause of bacterial pharyngitis, where molecular results are provided in six minutes or less, and positive results in as few as 2 minutes,” Al Baloushi added.

Vulnerable group

The most vulnerable groups to seasonal influenza are pregnant women at all stages of pregnancy; children from six months to five-years-old, elderly people (over 65-years-old); those with chronic disease states; and health workers.

She concluded that the seasonal flu poses a major challenge to health systems around the world, owing to its health, social and economic burden.

This calls for strengthening epidemiological surveillance and infection control in all health facilities and providing preventive measures to raise awareness of community members.

Heart failure detection

The Ministry of Health and Prevention in partnership with Abbott, has revealed the success of implanting the highly precise device “CardioMEMS PA sensor” for patients with heart failure. The new device reduces hospital admissions by 58 per cent as it can predict the health condition of the patient’s heart and send an email to his doctor if there are indications of heart failure, thus taking the necessary treatment measures.

The CardioMEMS ™ HF system features a wireless sensor that is implanted in the pulmonary artery (PA) to directly measure PA pressure of patients with advanced heart failure.

Organ Transplantation Centre

The Ministry of Health and Prevention, MoHAP, in partnership with the Mohammed Bin Rashid University of Medicine and Health Sciences, MBRU, also announced the launch of the Human Organs and Tissues Transplantation Centre at Al Qassimi Hospital, Sharjah.

“The new centre is one of the outcomes of the Federal Law No. (5) of 2016, issued by His Highness Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, with regard to the regulation of the transplantation of human organs and tissues to cope with the latest global health standards and develop a legislation system for organ transplantation,” said Dr Youssif Al Serkal, Assistant Undersecretary for the ministry’s hospitals sector.

He noted that organ transplantation is a sustainable solution to a large number of patients, especially those with cancer, heart disease, pulmonary failure, hepatic fibrosis and kidney failure.