Abu Dhabi: The UAE's Ministry of Health (MoH) is now officially the only entity in the Arab world to be part of the International Bone Marrow Transplant Registry (IBMTR), said a senior official to Gulf News.

The Health Minister Humaid Al Qutami and Richard Crotty, Mayor of Orange County Government, representing the USA Transfusion Services (USA-TS) - Florida's Blood Centers - signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) yesterday morning that states that both parties will partner in exchange and advanced research regarding bone marrow, blood collection, storage, transplantation and transfusion.

"This is the first MoU we sign with the USA. Our physicians, clinical laboratory personnel, administrators, recruitment and marketing professionals and any other relevant personnel involved with blood banking and transfusion will now be given the opportunity to train at the Florida blood centre, while staff from Florida can equally learn more about the UAE-MoH," said Dr Amin Al Amiri, CEO for Medical Practice and Licence.

Al Amiri told Gulf News that bone marrow and transfusion services will be available at the Sharjah blood transfusion and research centre, which now consists of 38 employees. "Once we are up and running we will increase the number of employees to 60," he affirmed.

During a press conference, Anne Chinoda, Florida's Blood Centers President and CEO, referred to the partnership as a "historic day - one in which we see no regional barriers, just one vision, to save lives".

She spoke to Gulf News about the importance of introducing stem cell therapy (regenerating damaged cells and repair organs) in the UAE, which is especially beneficial in the treatment of leukaemia, anaemia and heart problems.

"Stem cell therapy is the medicine of the future and we are keen on performing researches on cellular therapy and the exchange of information between our UAE and US medical staff. Scientists of every kind and from all borders usually work better when they work together," she added. Chinoda admitted that the Florida based company are benefiting from their partnership with the UAE-MoH due to their strong involvement with the World Health Organisation.