Iran’s army sets up hospital in capital as virus toll climbs

Iran’s army sets up hospital in capital as virus toll climbs

The recent pandemic is sparing no country around the world. It is confronted in a variety of ways that are fundamentally tied to each country’s specificities. Iran’s army sets up hospital in capital as virus toll climbs by Amir Vahdat and Joseph Krauss could be a solution that if generalised throughout could not only bring results. It could shorten the hardships of all current healthcare facilities efforts of the neighbouring countries.

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran announced another 144 deaths from the coronavirus on Friday and said thousands more were in critical condition as the military completed work on a 2,000-bed field hospital in an exhibition center in the capital.

Iran has reported nearly 2,400 deaths among more than 32,000 cases. Iranian officials have repeatedly insisted they have the outbreak under control despite concerns it could overwhelm the country’s health facilities.

Iran’s army sets up hospital in capital as virus toll climbs
People in protective clothing walk past rows of beds at a temporary 2,000-bed hospital for COVID-19 coronavirus patients set up by the Iranian army at the international exhibition center in northern Tehran, Iran, on Thursday, March 26, 2020. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

In Yemen, meanwhile, the U.S. Agency for International Development began scaling back aid efforts in areas controlled by the Iran-backed Houthi rebels over their resistance to allowing measures that ensure aid goes to those who most need it. Yemen has yet to record any coronavirus cases, but an outbreak in the war-torn country could be catastrophic.

Iran’s military said the new facility, which includes three units and several isolation wards, was set up in just 48 hours. It will be used for patients who are recovering from the COVID-19 illness caused by the virus.

State TV on Thursday quoted Gen. Ali Jahanshahi as saying the hospital has been handed over to medical staff and will begin receiving patients next week.

Most people infected by the virus only experience mild symptoms, such as fever and cough, and recover within a few weeks. But the virus can cause severe illness and death, particularly in older patients or those with underlying health problems. It is highly contagious and can be spread by otherwise healthy people showing no visible symptoms.

The virus has infected more than half a million people worldwide and killed more than 24,000. More than 120,000 people have recovered, according to the Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering.

Iran is battling the worst outbreak in the region. Health Ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour announced the latest deaths on Friday, bringing the total number of fatalities to 2,378 amid 32,332 confirmed cases.

He said nearly all of the approximately 2,900 newly confirmed cases are in critical condition. More than 11,000 people have been released from hospitals, according to the ministry.

Authorities have urged people to stay home but have not imposed the sweeping lockdowns seen elsewhere in the region.

Iran has been under severe U.S. sanctions since President Donald Trump withdrew his country from Iran’s 2015 nuclear agreement with world powers. The U.S. has offered humanitarian aid to Iran but authorities have refused.

Earlier this week, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, refused American aid and seized on a conspiracy theory that the United States created the virus, something for which there is no scientific evidence.

Hundreds of Iranians have meanwhile been sickened or died from drinking methanol in the mistaken belief that it offers protection from the virus. Word of fake remedies has spread across social media in Iran, where many are deeply suspicious of the government after it initially downplayed the crisis.

Lebanon, which has reported 391 infections and seven deaths, will impose a nighttime curfew starting Friday. The country of nearly 5 million has been under lockdown for two weeks, with only essential businesses allowed to remain open, a measure that will remain in place for at least another two weeks.

Israel, meanwhile, has seen a surge in infections in recent days. It has reported 3,035 cases and 10 fatalities, mainly older patients with pre-existing conditions. The Palestinian Authority, which governs parts of the Israeli-occupied West Bank, has reported 84 cases.

Authorities in the Gaza Strip, which has been under an Israeli and Egyptian blockade since the Hamas militant group seized power there in 2007, have reported nine cases.

Gaza’s health care infrastructure has been severely eroded by years of conflict and isolation. A major outbreak in the territory, which is home to more than 2 million Palestinians, could be extremely difficult to contain.

Another major areas of concern is Yemen, where the Houthis have been at war with a Saudi-led coalition for five years. The war has killed more than 100,000 people, displaced millions more and driven the Arab world’s poorest country to the brink of famine.

A USAID spokesperson said it was suspending nearly $73 million in aid “in the face of long-standing Houthi interference in humanitarian operations.” The Houthis control the capital, Sanaa, and much of northern Yemen, areas home to 70% of the country’s population.

The spokesperson said USAID will continue to provide life-saving assistance in areas at risk of famine. It will also support U.N. flights, water and sanitation programs which are essential to preventing the spread of the virus. It will also continue providing aid in southern Yemen.

The spokesperson spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity in keeping with regulations.

The Houthis have long sought to divert aid to their fighters and supporters. Last year, the rebels blocked half of the U.N.’s aid programs and resisted efforts to expand biometric registration and other measures to ensure aid was delivered to civilians.

But Samah Hadid, director of advocacy for Oxfam Yemen, expressed concern that USAID’s pullback could leave the country even more vulnerable to the pandemic.

“With the start of the rainy season, we are projecting that Yemen could face over one million cases of cholera this year,” she said. “Coupled with coronavirus, this would spell a catastrophe for Yemen.”


Krauss reported from Jerusalem. Associated Press writers Isaac Scharf in Jerusalem, Maggie Michael in Cairo and Sarah El Deeb in Beirut contributed to this report.

Read more on the above-linked APNews original document and all the following related topics.

The Arab World’s Perfect COVID-19 Storm

The Arab World’s Perfect COVID-19 Storm

Nasser Saidi describes in a Project Syndicate article The Arab World’s Perfect COVID-19 Storm. The author holds that this recent pandemic analysed here impacts will be significant. It is perhaps the first time that these are equally shared not only throughout the MENA region but the world at large. Any differences will, however, be in the manner with which this pandemic is specifically confronted locally. Read on for a better perspective view of the GCC region’s future.

March 24, 2020 

In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, policymakers in the Gulf Cooperation Council states are rolling out stimulus measures to support businesses and the economy. But the camel in the room remains oil, especially the immediate impact on demand of the Chinese and global economic slowdown.

BEIRUT – Middle Eastern and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) economies are heading toward a recession in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, collapsing oil prices, and the unfolding global financial crisis.

The fast-spreading global pandemic – with Europe its new epicenter – is generating both supply and demand shocks. The supply shock results from output cuts, factory closures, disruptions to supply chains, trade, and transport, and higher prices for material supplies, along with a tightening of credit. And the aggregate-demand shock stems from lower consumer spending – owing to quarantines, “social distancing,” and the reduction in incomes caused by workplace disruptions and closures – and delayed investment spending.

The two largest Arab economies, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, are proactively fighting the spread of COVID-19, for example by closing schools and universities and postponing large events such as the Art Dubai fair and the Dubai World Cup horse race. Likewise, Bahrain has postponed its Formula One Grand Prix.

Saudi Arabia has even announced a temporary ban on non-compulsory umrah pilgrimages to Mecca, and has closed mosques. Because religious tourism is one of the Kingdom’s main sources of non-oil revenue, the umrah ban and likely severe restrictions on the obligatory (for all Muslims) hajj pilgrimage will have a large negative impact on economic growth.

True, policymakers across the GCC are rolling out stimulus measures to support businesses and the economy. Central banks have focused on assisting small and medium-size enterprises by deferring loan repayments, extending concessional loans, and reducing point-of-sale and e-commerce fees. And GCC authorities have unveiled stimulus packages to support companies in the hard-hit tourism, retail, and trade sectors. The UAE has a consolidated package valued at AED126 billion ($34.3 billion), while Saudi Arabia’s is worth $32 billion and Qatar’s totals $23.3 billion. Moreover, policymakers are supporting money markets: Bahrain, for example, recently slashed its overnight lending rate from 4% to 2.45%.

But the camel in the room remains oil, especially the immediate impact on demand of the Chinese and global economic slowdown. The International Energy Agency optimistically estimates that global oil demand will fall to 99.9 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2020, about 90,000 bpd lower than in 2019 (in the IEA’s pessimistic scenario, demand could plunge by 730,000 bpd). Indeed, successive production cuts had already led to OPEC’s global market share falling from 40% in 2014 to about 34% in January 2020, to the benefit of US shale producers.

The weakening outlook for oil demand has been exacerbated by the Saudi Arabia-Russia oil-price war, with the Saudis not only deciding to ramp up production, but also announcing discounts of up to $8 per barrel for Northwest Europe and other large consumers of Russian oil. Although the Kingdom’s strategic aim is to weaken shale-oil producers and regain market share, the price war will also hit weaker oil-dependent economies (such as Algeria, Angola, Bahrain, Iraq, Nigeria, and Oman), and put other major oil producers and companies under severe pressure. Indeed, in the two years after oil prices’ last sharp fall, in 2014, OPEC member states lost a collective $450 billion in revenues.

That episode prompted GCC governments to pursue fiscal consolidation by phasing out fuel subsidies, implementing a 5% value-added tax (in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain), and rationalizing public spending. Nonetheless, GCC countries continue to rely on oil for government revenues, and their average fiscal break-even price of $64 per barrel is more than double the current Brent oil price of about $30 per barrel. The UAE and Saudi Arabia have estimated break-even prices of $70 and $83.60, respectively, while Oman ($88), Bahrain ($92), and Iran ($195) are even more vulnerable in this regard. More diversified Russia, by contrast, can balance its budget with oil at $42 per barrel.

The near-halving of oil prices since the start of 2020, the sharp fall in global growth, and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic will put severe strains on both oil and non-oil revenue. As a result, GCC governments’ budget deficits are likely to soar to 10-12% of GDP in 2020, more than double earlier forecasts, while lower oil prices will also result in substantial current-account deficits.

Governments will respond by cutting (mostly capital) spending, magnifying the negative effect on the non-oil sector. Some countries (Kuwait, Qatar, and the UAE) can tap fiscal and international reserves, while others (Oman, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia) will have to turn to international financial markets.

But will GCC governments be able to borrow their way out of this phase of lower oil prices? Global equity and debt markets currently are close to meltdown; with investors fleeing to safe government bonds, liquidity is drying up.

The GCC countries will suffer a negative wealth effect, owing to losses on their sovereign wealth funds’ portfolios and net foreign assets. And, given bulging deficits and the prospect of continued low oil prices, sovereign and corporate borrowers will find it harder and more expensive to access markets. The ongoing financial crisis will therefore exacerbate the effects of the oil-price shock and the pandemic.

The pandemic itself is still unfolding, and its eventual global impact will depend on its geographical spread, duration, and intensity. But it is already clear that in the coming weeks, there will be heightened uncertainty about global growth prospects, oil prices, and financial-market volatility. And as the pandemic continues its deadly march, the GCC economies – like many others – will be unable to avoid recession.

Coronavirus in the Middle East: updates for March 3

Coronavirus in the Middle East: updates for March 3

Coronavirus in the Middle East: updates for March 3 by Brian Whitaker cannot be wrong. Referring to the above-proposed BBC map dated a day earlier, it is not difficult to measure the extent of such pandemic. The MENA region located at the junction of three continents had known in the millennium past all sorts of passing winds. The latest of these blowing from and to all directions is not the first neither the last. In the meantime here is an account of the current drought.

Daily totals of new coronavirus cases in the Middle East (excluding Iran)
Daily totals of new coronavirus cases in the Middle East (excluding Iran)

Iran reported a further huge increase in the number of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases on Monday. The official figure now stands at 1,501, with 66 deaths so far, though the official figures are disputed.

On Tuesday, local media reported that 23 members of Iran’s parliament are among those infected. On Monday it was reported that Mohammad Mirmohammadi, a member of the Expediency Council which advises the Supreme Leader, had died of the virus.

One indication of the scale of Iran’s outbreak is that the health ministry is assembling 300,000 “treatment and hygiene teams” which will carry out house-to-house checks.

Elsewhere in the Middle East, there are 23 new cases since yesterday’s update, bringing the cumulative total to 197. Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Tunisia joined the list for the first time, each reporting one case.

Algeria 5 (+2)
Bahrain 49 (+2)
Egypt 2 (-)
Iraq 22 (+3)
Israel 12 (+2)
Jordan 1 (+1)
Kuwait 56 (-)
Lebanon 13 (+6)
Oman 6 (-)
Qatar 8 (+5)
Saudi Arabia 1 (+1)
Tunisia 1 (+1)
UAE 21 (-)

TOTAL: 197 (+23)

CLICK HERE for previous updates

New cases reported in the region during the past week show two distinct geographical patterns. In the Arab Gulf states, plus Lebanon and Iraq, almost all have been linked to people arriving from Iran. In most of these, the people involved have been quarantined on arrival.

Further west – in Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan and Tunisia – new infections appear to be connected mainly with Italy and France. 

Country-by-country round-up

● Algeria reported two new cases – a father and daughter who were living in France – bringing the total to five.

● Bahrain reported two new cases – a Bahraini woman and a Saudi man – bringing the total to 49.

● Egypt: A few details have emerged about Egypt’s second confirmed coronavirus case which was reported on Monday. He is described as a “foreign expert” working for an oil company in the north-west of the country. The Egyptian authorities have repeatedly denied allegations that they are concealing a number of other cases. On Monday the Egypt Watch website claimed that some are being treated in military hospitals which – since they don’t come under the aegis of the health ministry – are not being reported to the World Health Organisation. There is no independent confirmation of this claim.

● Iraq: The health ministry reported two new cases in Baghdad involving people who had returned from Iran. The Kurdistan Regional Government also reported that a relative of three people diagnosed earlier had tested positive.

● Israel reported two new cases, bringing the total to 12. The two people affected had returned from Italy towards the end of February.

● Jordan reported its first case on Monday – a Jordanian man who had arrived with a friend from Italy two weeks ago. The man’s family and friend (who has so far tested negative) are in quarantine. The health ministry says that if the number of coronavirus cases in Jordan reaches 20, schools will be closed and public gatherings will be banned.

● Lebanon: The total number of cases has risen to 13, with six new cases reported since Sunday. Arab News says most of those detected were either passengers or relatives of passengers on a flight that arrived in Beirut from the Iranian city of Qom a week ago.

● Qatar reported four new cases on Monday – two Qatari citizens and two domestic workers who had accompanied them on a private plane from Iran on February 27. On Tuesday morning a fifth person – who had been quarantined immediately after arriving from Iran (apparently on the same private flight) – was also diagnosed

● Saudi Arabia reported its first case – a Saudi citizen who had arrived from Iran via Bahrain. The health ministry said that when the man arrived in Saudi Arabia he did not disclose to the authorities that he had recently been in Iran. Although this is the first case in the kingdom, reports from other Arab countries indicate that at least nine Saudis have been diagnosed with the virus outside the kingdom. The Saudi health ministry said on Sunday it has prepared 8,000 hospital beds for possible future cases.

● Tunisia reported its first case – a 40-year-old Tunisian man who had returned from Italy by boat on February 27.

Military dominating Civilian life and Society in Egypt

The MENA region countries, notably the republics amongst them, have undergone upheaval of vital importance lately. The latest but not least would be the military dominating civilian life and society in Egypt. This country being at the forefront of all the republics in all domain of governance could be an indicator of the trend for the other governments. Algeria and Sudan come literally on the brink of following, such as their own military dominating the country’s civilian and societal life.

Amgad Hamdi in his 20 May 2019 article elaborates thus on the Egyptian Institute for Studies.

Militarization of Egyptian Ministry of Health

It is no longer a secret that the military dominates civilian life and society as a whole in Egypt. The present cabinet with all its civil ministries is no longer the only civilian front for the military rule. In fact, the military has tightened its grip on all aspects of civil life through employing military officers, both retired or in office.

On 22 December 2018, Hala Zayed, the current Minister of Health, announced that directors of 48 model hospitals (29 of which belong to the Ministry of Health and 19 to the Ministry of Higher Education) will be chosen from among the military. This decision violates all legal and constitutional values ​​of ensuring that all citizens have equal opportunities when applying for a job based on objective evaluation criteria, not due to belonging to any State body or party, whether civilian or military. This move comes after founding the Faculty of Military Medicine, a critical development in the course of military dominance over the civilian sphere, and within the framework of seeking to tighten control over service sectors that are directly related to citizens, such as the health sector.

Militarization of leading positions in the Ministry of Health

As the Egyptian government that came after the military coup sought to exclude all components of the civil society, the phenomenon of controlling the vital sectors in the Ministry of Health, including the security, finance and administrative sectors, in addition to dozens of jobs in the middle administration at the level of director-general, which is difficult to monitor because of lack of transparency in the announcement of mechanisms of military personnel appointment in those positions.

The prevalence of the presence of the military in various sectors of the Ministry of Health contributed to increasing anger among employees, in light of the huge salaries that those military commanders receive added to the huge salaries they receive from the army starting from 15 thousand pounds to officers with the rank of Colonel and up to 25 thousand pounds for officers with the rank of Maj. General, which increases the psychological burden on civil servants in those sectors, whose salary may not exceed 1500 pounds per month.

A- The military in the Ministry of Health

Among the most important military figures that were appointed in leading positions at the Ministry of Health after the July 2013 coup:

1- Major General Mohamed Fathallah, an anesthesiologist in the Armed Forces, was appointed to the position of spokesman for the Ministry of Health, from 29 July 2013 to 25 November 2013, and was then promoted to the Head of the Health Minister’s Office.

Fathallah only made one statement on the number of deaths during the dispersal of the Rabaa and Nahda sit-ins as well as subsequent events all over the country, during his tenure as an official spokesman of the Ministry of Health. On 15 August 2013, one day after the massacre, the Egyptian Ministry of Health officially announced that the incidents left 578 dead and 4201 injured all over the country, including 288 deaths in Rabaa only.

Meanwhile, the Anti-Coup Alliance, known as the National Alliance Supporting Legitimacy, announced that the number of victims after the dispersal of anti-coup sit-ins reached 2,600 in Rabaa Adawiya alone; and some Brotherhood leaders, such as Mohamed El-Beltagy and Essam El-Erian, said 3000 protesters were killed by the army and security forces on 14 August, while the number jumped to 4000 or 5000, including those viewed as “coup victims” in general. However, the Human Rights Watch said the death toll reached one thousand.

Commenting on this:

– The Ministry of Health was supposed to issue several consecutive statements on the situation following the initial statement. However, only three statements were issued between 14 and 17 August.

– The total number of victims announced by Major General Mohammad Fathallah, the official spokesman of the Ministry of Health, (578 people), after only one day of the Rabaa sit-in dispersal cannot be accurate due to the state of liquidity and severe disintegration of the State institutions at the time.

– No subsequent data were issued to indicate the status of the injured and the hospitals to which they were transferred, and whether there were subsequent deaths among the injured.

– The Ministry of Health did not play its role in preserving the rights of the dead and injured through issuance of official death certificates showing the real causes of death or injury, which could support the legal position of the families of those affected in the course of criminal prosecution of army and police forces involved in killing demonstrators.

– So far, the Ministry of Health has not released any new data or statistics regarding the massacre of dispersal of Rabaa and Nahda sit-ins, especially causes of death.

– The Ministry of Health did not respond to the complaints raised by the Egyptian or international press about discrepancies in statements about the numbers of victims and remained silent.

The appointment of a military doctor in this position as spokesman of the Ministry of Health, at this specific stage, begs a question about the accuracy and transparency of information regarding the incident, where the victims were civilians and the convicts were army and police forces, amid silence of the official spokesman of the ministry.

2- The position of assistant to the Minister of Health for Financial and Administrative Affairs was mostly occupied by the military except for the period from January to October 2015, where the current Minister of Finance, Mohamed Maeit, held the post: Major General Ahmed Farag took over from 2006 until the January Revolution (2011), then Major General Ashraf Khairi, and after that Dr. Maeit as we mentioned earlier, and finally Major General Sayed Al Shahid, who has been in this position until today.

3- The Central Department of Administrative Affairs: Dr. Ahmed Emad Eddin, former Minister of Health in March 2017 appointed Major General Ahmed Baligh Al Hadidi as Head of the Health Ministry’s Central Department of Administrative Affairs. The Administrative Affairs Sector is responsible for all types of maintenance within the ministry office including plumbing, carpentry, electricity, as well as sending and receiving the office correspondence.

4- General Security Department: Dr. Ahmed Emad Eddin, the former Minister of Health, appointed Major General Ahmed Zaghloul as Assistant to the Minister of Health for Political Communication and Security Affairs, replacing Major General Ahmad Said, former Director of the Ministry of Health’s Security Department. Also, the former minister of health appointed Major General Hisham Abdel Raouf as assistant to the minister for basic care.

As we have seen, the military control all sectors of the Ministry of Health as well as the overall policy-making within the Ministry and the Ministry’s resources, logistics, personnel files, communication systems, facilities and services, in addition to the operating system and internal regulations.

B- Management of model hospitals

The decision of Hala Zayed, the current Minister of Health, to appoint the directors of the model hospitals (48) from among those who have a military background is the most dangerous decision in the context of development of the course of military dominance on the health sector in Egypt, for the following reasons:

– The decision is the first of its kind that restricts applying for a civil position to the military.

– The decision allows the military to systematically invade the Ministry of Health’s middle administration, as directors of hospitals, which enables them to control the joints of the health sector as a whole, not only the top administration and policy-making, but also extends to the executive.

– The decision represents a qualitative leap in the path of imposing military hegemony on society, through the appointment of soldiers in service or retired in civil service sites where there is direct interaction with citizens on a daily basis.

– The appointment of the military as directors of government-owned hospitals, this time not as military doctors, but as professional soldiers assigned to work in administrative not technical positions. Therefore, the decision represents a quantitative and qualitative transformation in this regard.

– The decision will increase the drop-out and emigration of doctors due to deprivation of the possibility of promotion and holding administrative positions in the ministry.

– This military move is an encroachment on the civil rights and social structure of the Egyptian working environment. It is also a negative indicator of the tendency towards a full militarization of society.

– The aim of such decision is to appease the military, who were fired from their positions in the armed forces, especially after the coup of 2013.

To Read Text in PDF Format Click here.

State of Happiness in the world of 2018

State of Happiness in the world of 2018

The World Happiness Report 2018 is the annual report published by the U.N. Sustainable Development Solutions Network and as a relatively new survey of the state of happiness in the world of 2018, gives an idea of the state of the world’s countries per the resulting ranking of 156 countries by their happiness levels, and 117 countries by the happiness of their immigrants. This ranking graph would perhaps be the most sought-after outcome of such an endeavour.

Where is Happiness in 2018 ?

In few words, this year’s report zeroed in, in addition to its usual “ranking of the levels and changes in happiness around the world, on migration within and between countries”.

The MENA region amongst other regions of the world was assessed in its own right and the resulting ranking is below :

  • ·         Israel                                      11th
  • ·         United Arab Emirates             20th
  • ·         Qatar                                      32nd
  • ·         Saudi Arabia                         33rd
  • ·         Bahrain                                  43;
  • ·         Kuwait                                    45
  • ·         Libya                                      70
  • ·         Turkey                                    74
  • ·         Algeria                                   84
  • ·         Morocco                                 85
  • ·         Lebanon                                88
  • ·         Jordan                                    90
  • ·         Palestinian territories            104
  • ·         Iran                                         106
  • ·         Tunisia                                   111
  • ·         Iraq                                         117
  • ·         Egypt                                      122
  • ·         Syria                                       150

Apart from some countries that unexpected ranked high such as Algeria and way down such as Lebanon, Egypt and Tunisia, most ranking in our view tend to reflect quite diligently wat is going on the respective countries ground. The reasons obvious for some countries are not exactly as clear as one would think as off one’s deep knowledge of the region. It remains in any way that generally the proposed ranking would be in correlation with the movement of populations or migration as labelled in the report as literally the resulting effect of all those socio-political and economical mutations that each country is going through in its own specific way.

The report dwelling on migration found that people’s tolerance as a predominant character trait towards newcomers could be that whilst the least accepting countries were amongst those of Europe, four were from the MENA region and are Israel, Egypt, Iraq and Jordan. Those most accepting are of course those of the GCC, whose settled populations are overwhelmingly foreign born.

The report goes on to wonder “What determines the happiness of immigrants living in different countries and coming from different, other countries?

Three striking facts emerge.

  1. In the typical country, immigrants are about as happy as people born locally. 
  2. The happiness of each migrant depends not only on the happiness of locals but also on the level of happiness in the migrant’s country of origin.
  3. The happiness of immigrants also depends importantly on how accepting the locals are towards immigrants.

Further to the  above, we excerpted this piece of the report’s Chapter 1 Happiness and Migration: An Overview that best illustrates what such study was all about.

In conclusion, there are large gaps in happiness between countries, and these will continue to create major pressures to migrate. Some of those who migrate between countries will benefit and others will lose. In general, those who move to happier countries than their own will gain in happiness, while those who move to unhappier countries will tend to lose. Those left behind will not on average lose, although once again there will be gainers and losers. Immigration will continue to pose both opportunities and costs for those who move, for those who remain behind, and for natives of the immigrant- receiving countries.

Where immigrants are welcome and where they integrate well, immigration works best. A more tolerant attitude in the host country will prove best for migrants and for the original residents. But there are clearly limits to the annual flows which can be accommodated without damage to the social fabric that provides the very basis of the country’s attraction to immigrants. One obvious solution, which has no upper limit, is to raise the happiness of people in the sending countries – perhaps by the traditional means of foreign aid and better access to rich-country markets, but more importantly by helping them to grow their own levels of trust, and institutions of the sort that make possible better lives in the happier countries.


Non Communicable Disease epidemic in the MENA

Non Communicable Disease epidemic in the MENA

Preventing risk behaviours among young people is key to curbing the Non Communicable Disease epidemic in the MENA, according to a new set of Population Reference Bureau(PRB) publications. NCDs are the leading cause of death globally, and they account for 74 percent of all deaths in MENA. These deaths occur at the peak of individuals’ economic productivity, imposing a significant burden on families and health systems, as well as challenging economic growth and sustainable development.
Per Wikipedia, the Population Reference Bureau is a private, non-profit organization that was founded in 1929. The organization specializes in collecting and supplying statistics necessary for research and/or academic purposes. It informs people around the world about population, health, and the environment, and empowers them to use that information to advance the well-being of current and future generations.
This article by Toshiko Kaneda, senior research associate in International Programs at PRB and Sameh El-Saharty, program leader for human development in the Department of the Gulf Cooperation Council Countries at the World Bank is about the MENA would not be clearer than it portends. The often-desperate situation of most parts of the region tend to make us overlook the real facts that there are such things as these noncommunicable disease epidemic like elsewhere in the developing world.

Curbing the Noncommunicable Disease Epidemic in the Middle East and North Africa

Download Policy Report

(December 2017) Preventing risk behaviours among young people is key to curbing the noncommunicable disease (NCD) epidemic in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), according to a new set of PRB publications.
NCDs are the leading cause of death globally, and they account for 74 percent of all deaths in MENA. The likelihood of dying prematurely from four main NCDs in MENA is 19 percent, compared to 12 percent in higher-income countries globally. These deaths occur at the peak of individuals’ economic productivity, imposing a significant burden on families and health systems, as well as challenging economic growth and sustainable development.
The four principal NCDs threatening MENA are cardiovascular diseases, cancers, diabetes, and chronic respiratory diseases. They share four behavioural risk factors:
• Tobacco use.
• Physical inactivity.
• Poor diet.
• Harmful use of alcohol.
These modifiable risk behaviours often begin in adolescence and young adulthood. Since young people ages 10 to 24 account for an average of one in four people in MENA, it is crucial to address the risk behaviours of this young cohort to change the trajectory of NCDs in the region.
This package of publications, supported by the AstraZeneca Young Health Programme (YHP), includes a policy report and data sheet that highlight the importance of taking action now to address NCD risk factors among young people in MENA. The report describes the scale and scope of NCDs and their risk factors in MENA; provides examples of promising policy and programmatic interventions for young people; and highlights the need for data collection and rigorous monitoring and evaluation of policies and programs to identify the most effective and sustainable interventions for MENA countries. The data sheet includes the latest available data on the four risk factors among young people for 19 countries and territories across the MENA region.
Downloadable PDFs:
Policy Report.
Data Sheet.

Africa Diabetes retailing Medtronic insulin pump in Morocco

Africa Diabetes retailing Medtronic insulin pump in Morocco

Capitalising on its technological expertise in the field of E-health and Diabetes, Africa Diabetes retailing Medtronic insulin pump in Morocco started a well publicised marketing operation; it is about an insulin pump and a wide range of innovative accompanying solutions for all health professionals in Morocco.

Details as provided by Zineb Nafii of Jankari Consulting follow below.

The MENA region

Innovation: Africa Diabetes, a company specializing in innovative supply to diabetes, starts marketing off the catalogue of the American leader Medtronic insulin pump.

Goal: To allow Insulin-dependent diabetics to monitor 24/7 their blood sugar and be able to protect themselves from the hypos.

In practice, two ranges of pumps are available in Morocco. It’s the last pump generation “MiniMed 640 G” and the pump “MiniMed Paradigm Veo”. The offer covers, in addition to the supply of these two insulin pumps, an accompaniment of potential pump holders in consumables to monitor on the day to day their blood sugar (catheters, quick-set infusion set, silhouette infusion set, safe-T infusion set, tanks of insulin and Enlite Sensor).

The deployment of this innovative technology by Africa Diabetes, which requires a closer follow-up of a patient by a health care professional, including endocrinologists, relies on the expertise of two strategic partners, in this case, Eramedic and teams of Medtronic in the Middle East and North Africa region.

At the same time, Africa Diabetes makes available to the type 1 diabetics, children and adults, sensitive to pain of injections of insulin or who suffer from anxiety related to injections, the I-port Advance technology. It is a solution to use with a syringe or an insulin Pen for several injections a day without repeated bites, for a maximum of three days (72 hours).

In another line, Africa Diabetes makes accessible, the “IPro2” solution from Medtronic for the measurement of glucose for professional use by ecosystem health (endocrinologists, diabetologists, clinical, and University Hospitals).

In addition to the advanced offer on the insulin pump supply, Africa Diabetes has, through its platform e-Commerce of a catalogue of 100 products that cover the daily needs of type 1 and 2 diabetes such as test strips to measure blood sugar and urinary, needles, injection, insulated kits pens, books, diabetic foot, nutrition… Patients can order and pay online through the interbank electronic payment Center (IJC) platform.

In terms of logistics, Africa Diabetes delivers its products through Morocco using Aramex services that allow users to track their orders online.




How Technology Is Improving Your Health

How Technology Is Improving Your Health

Danielle Roberts, a friend recommended to link her website work on how Technology Is Improving Your Health to this MENA-Forum site. We decided after review of the positive healthwellness to publish some excerpts of an article with compliments to its authors. It is all about how technology is affecting healthcare generally and wellness in particular.  State of the Art technology is no doubt changing our life for the better in the developed countries but appears however to encounter some difficulty in penetrating and committing to the good welfare of the MENA countries peoples. The reasons would be multiple and varied from one corner to the other of the region.
We propose these excerpts of this article below in the hope to spread its words further out in the MENA region and beyond.

8 Ways Technology Is Improving Your Health

We hear all the time about how technology is bad for us. Since the introduction of computers, we spend more time sitting at a desk than moving around at work. We have created this sedentary lifestyle that is causing havoc in our overall life.

What if I were to tell you that technology has produced benefits? Would you believe me if I said that technology is good for your health?

Most of you wouldn’t look at first. Well, you may be able to think of a couple of ways that the computer has helped, but you are still stuck on all the negatives that ‘experts’ have shared in the past. The problem with the ‘experts’ is that they are only focused on the negatives. They haven’t looked at so many of the benefits.

So, that’s what we’ll do today. We’ll consider all the ways that technology improves our health. We’ll discuss just how it has boosted results in certain areas of healthcare and what it does for us daily.

Technology Is Everywhere in Medicine

Before we do move onto all the benefits, it’s worth discussing just how technology is used. It is found everywhere in medicine. Think about the x-ray machines, MRI scanners, and even the research equipment used daily. [ . . . ]

It Pushes Us to Do More Activity

Sure, technology has led to us sitting more. And sitting is the new smoking when it comes to health problems. However, technology has also helped to push us to do more activity.

We just must take the examples of the Fitbit, pedometers, and apps that track our steps. They all encourage us to meet our daily targets—setting personal targets to get us to walk more and meet the goals that we know are realistic to us. While there is the goal to walk at least 10,000 steps a day, that just doesn’t seem realistic for many. The pedometers and smartphone apps give us more control. [ . . . ]

Better Ability for Communication Between Doctors and Patients

With technology being widely available, there are chances that everyone has some sort of access to doctor and health websites. These sites can create chat boxes and instant messengers, where real doctors and nurses can monitor communications. When a patient comes on with a question, the doctors and nurses can provide factual answers and share their thoughts and advice. [ . . . ]

More Ability to Do Research into Problems

Medical students and professor using laptop at the university

The internet has certainly opened the ability to research. We all tend to turn to Google, calling it Dr. Google at times. The search engine allows you to input your symptoms or ask questions about a certain symptom to find out all the ailments that involve them/it. People can look through a list of other symptoms to determine the chances of suffering from certain ailments. [ . . . ]

There Are Devices That Keep the Body Working as It Should

Man after heart surgery in a hospital ward

Some devices are created purposely to help promote a healthy body. They are placed inside or outside to help keep the body working as it should. There are also other types of treatments that cause reactions in the body to support organs and the overall health.

The pacemaker is just one that will come to mind for everyone. This is a device created for those who have heart problems. The pacemaker helps to send electrical currents into the heart to prevent it from suffering from spasms. This little device is a lifesaver for so many people. It keeps the heart pumping as it should, which will support the rest of the body. [ . . . ]

Better Treatment Options for Various Ailments and Diseases

equipment and medical devices in modern operating room

It’s no secret that treatments have advanced in recent years to the point where some ailments are virtually unheard of. Vaccinations and various medical advances have completely eradicated the likes of smallpox and led to the point where polio is now less common and far more treatable.

Some of the advances have only come in the last few years, and are all due to technology. We’re able to do more research and test without the use of animals and humans. There are ways to create vaccinations and treatments without putting people at risk, increasing the chance of a better quality of life. Just look at how HIV treatments have changed since the disease was noted in the early 1980s. It is now at a point where the virus doesn’t have the chance to develop into AIDS. [ . . . ]

Improved Prediction of Diagnosis and Life Expectancy

Ever wondered if you could get a disease later in life? Maybe you wonder if a current symptom is a sign that you could develop a condition. You could even wonder just how long you have left to live when you are diagnosed with a condition.

Technology has helped to improve the prediction process of a diagnosis. Doctors will have information all in one place and can see all the symptoms at the same time. They have formulas to work out averages of when a condition occurs.

You get this type of risk assessment, and doctors will be able to predict if you are more likely to suffer from a certaintype of disease or ailment. [ . . . ]

Faster and More Accurate Diagnosis of Conditions

While the prediction side of diagnosis is improved, technology also improves the accuracy of a diagnosis. Like before, doctors gather all the information in one place and will be able to keep an eye on results more closely. They can also put together symptoms and signs sooner than before, meaning an earlier diagnosis for many people. [ . . . ]

Technology Improves Recording of Information in Real Time

Many of the benefits mentioned above rely on an accurate and timely recording of information. There is no denying that recording of symptoms between doctors has led to issues of conditions not being diagnosed and the right treatment not being administered.

Before computers, doctors would write all the information on charts. They would document it through paperwork, and that paperwork would need to be sent to various doctors. If you changed family doctor, there was a chance of the information going missing. If you went to see a different doctor in between visits, such as at the hospital or a locum, you ran the risk of the information not being sent to your regular doctor. [ . . . ]

There Are Two Sides to Technology


Technology has helped to improve the health. It will continue to do this as there are more advancements made.

There is no denying that technology can be bad. We are at a point where we sit more because we don’t have the need to go outside anymore. Socializing is possible online, and recreation is often spent watching TV shows and movies. ‘Experts’ tend to focus on all these negatives of technology, without really focusing on the ways that technology is helping us. [ . . . ]



National Health Service

National Health Service

Healthy Britain . . .

For all the lovely things in Britain, for me and most others the best thing about Britain is our National Health Service.   You don’t pay to see a doctor or use a hospital for things you need.  It has often been called the Envy of the World and rightly so.   It might be one of the greatest advances in social justice  ever seen and has remained unmatched since its inception in 1948.

The health of the general population has been crucial to those in power at many key points in British history.  No-one, of course, escaped the effects of the Black Death which killed up to a third of our population.  Many whole communities were destroyed.  But the whole ancient feudal system entered a terminal decline that allowed people to become untethered to their overlords, free to sell their labour to the highest bidder.


For most of our history, treatment, such as it was, was administered (freely) by religious communities and these provide the roots of many of our oldest established hospitals.  Most people, in history, however, were cared for at home using traditional medicines.  And therein lies some of the reason for the late growth of comprehensive free healthcare, and that is, until recently, most illnesses were pretty much untreatable and accepted as part of life.  However, things changed rapidly from the eighteenth century onwards.  When Edward Jenner created a vaccine to cure Smallpox, it was freely promoted in order to stop the spread of this deadly disease.  Vaccines for Smallpox have been so effective that the disease itself was declared eradicated in 1979.

Crossness Pumping Station of London's Sewer System

Crossness Pumping Station of London’s Sewer System

Through the Victorian era there were various Public Health Acts, including the 1848 establishment of (still working) sewers that stemmed the spread typhus and cholera.   The government also came to glance into the most personal aspects of citizen’s lives.  In the 1800 it was estimated that as many military personnel were lost to venereal disease as in battle and in the Victorian era there was a real fear, for the same reason, that there were not enough healthy sailors to man the fleet if it needed to sail into battle.  In 1864, the Contagious Diseases Act allowed women to be snatched off the street, examined and hospitalized if they were suspected of carrying VD.

The general health of the population continued to be worry to governments during the First World War.  Many potential recruits had be turned away because of ill-health often stemming from the effects of poverty and neglect.  During this time, the cogs slowly rolled towards the establishment of our National Health Service.   A National Insurance Scheme was established in 1911 and access to medical help improved.  In 1943, at the height of the Second World War, the Beveridge report proposed the `Cradle to Grave’ welfare system that has improved the life of every person in the country, directly or indirectly.

Great Ormond Str Hospital Junior Doctors demonstration

Great Ormond Str Hospital Junior Doctors demonstration

UAE / India Economic Forum

UAE / India Economic Forum

A second edition of the UAE / India Economic Forum will take place in Dubai in October.  It is aimed at increasing bilateral trade between the two countries.  An article on the subject is published by Arabian Business on September 2, 2016.  Arabian Business that is close to the subject, has published early this year, the List of the 50 Richest Indians in the GCC in 2016  and 100 most powerful Indians in the GCC.  Also and as reported by The Times of India, Indian expatriates were hit hard as Gulf economies slip on free fall in crude oil prices, the situation has not improved and to a large extent, should remain the same for the foreseeable future in the GCC whereas, it is getting notoriously known that India’s economy seems to be ‘flowering’.   What would the outcome of such a gathering be?

UAE, India to hold second summit to drive bilateral trade

Building on the success of the event’s first edition last year, Consulate General of India in association with UMS Conferences have announced that the second edition will take place on October 19-20 at Madinat Jumeirah.

It will provide a vital platform for business leaders and government authorities to discuss key opportunities for diversifying and deepening the economic partnership between the two countries, a statement said.

India is considered to be the UAE’s primary trade partner, accounting for about 9.8 percent of its total non-oil trade.

Bilateral trade between the UAE and India has grown significantly from $180 million in the 1970s to around $60 billion per annum, and is predicted to reach $100 billion by 2020.

Aimed at addressing the policy framework and guidelines needed to attract investors, sovereign wealth funds, large corporates and industries, the forum will include an investors roundtable, government panel on bilateral trade and a start-up zone.

Jamal Al Jarwan, secretary general of UAE International Investors Council (UAEIIC), said: “Economic ties between the UAE and India go back hundreds of years and we are proud of the two countries’ sustained efforts to strengthen this relationship further. As an initiative founded on the success of the two countries continued commitment to boost mutual bilateral ties, the UAE India Economic Forum provides UAEIIC members with a constructive platform to discuss challenges and opportunities concerning their investments in India.”

Ravi Raman, member of the organising committee, added: “We are enthused and encouraged by the tremendous support that the second edition of the forum is receiving. The UAE and India are stepping into the future with a renewed strategy for mutual business growth and we are looking forward to contributing to this partnership with an even bigger and impactful event with a range of speaker sessions, panel discussions and participation of government entities and well-entrenched business houses.”

The 2015 event attracted more than 300 delegates from the C suite as well as Ministry and Government officials in addition to business owners from UAE and India.

In May, five Indian-owned businesses in the UAE committed more than AED13.44 billion ($3.65 billion) towards infrastructure and industrial development initiatives in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.

The milestone development was announced at the Uttar Pradesh Investment Forum and comes as UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav’s government launched a programme to attract investments from across the globe, especially from the Middle East.

Improvement of Human Development of Algeria

Improvement of Human Development of Algeria

But not a great deal of Innovation !

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in its latest report on Human Development 2015 notes a marked improvement of Human Development in Algeria.  This report examines the links, positive and negative, between work and human development in a rapidly changing world, where rapid globalization, demographic transitions, and numerous other factors create new opportunities, but also risks, which generate winners but also losers

1 – The Human Development Index or HDI was developed in 1990 by Pakistani economist Mahbub ul Haq and Indian Economist, Nobel laureate Amartya Sen.  The HDI is a composite index between 0 (abysmal and 1 (excellent), calculated by the average of three indices.  The first aspect (A) quantifies health and longevity (measured by life expectancy at birth), which indirectly measures the satisfaction of basic material needs such as access to healthy food, to drinking water, decent housing, good hygiene and medical care as adopted by the Programme of the United Nations Development in 1990.

It is more reliable than the previously used indices, Per Capita GDP, which gives no information on individual or collective well-being apart from quantifying economic production.  In 2002, the United Nations Population Division took into account when estimating the population impacts of AIDS epidemic for 53 countries, compared with 45 in 2000.

The second aspect (B) is knowledge or education level measured by the adult literacy rate (percentage of 15 years and more as knowing to write and easily understand a short and simple text dealing with everyday life) and the gross enrollment rate (combined measurement of the rate for primary, secondary and higher education).  This translated the intangible needs such as the ability to participate in decision-making on the workplace or in society.

The third component (C) is concerned with the standard of living (logarithm of gross domestic product per capita in purchasing power parity), to include elements of quality of life which are not described by the two first indices such as mobility or access to culture thus giving HDI = A D E/3 .

2 – According to this World Report 2015, the score of Algeria has improved with its ranking at the 83rd in 2014 against 93rd in 2013 out of 188 countries, i.e. ten position up, and at the third position in Africa behind Mauritius Islands and the Seychelles which were not on the list of countries concerned by the multidimensional poverty index. So with an Index of Human Development (HDI) valued at 0.736, Algeria is amongst the 56 countries with a ‘high’ human development, with a life expectancy at birth in 2014 estimated to be 74.8 years while an average duration of enrollment of 7.6 years and a gross national income per capita (GNI) estimated at $13,054.

In the Maghreb, Libya has been classified in the category of countries with high development (94th), Tunisia ranked in 96th place (high HDI), Morocco at the 126th (average HDI), and Mauritania at the 156th (low HDI).  The last ten countries in this ranking are all African with Mali, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Chad, Eritrea, the Central African Republic and Niger.  The top ten countries with the best HDI in the world (ranging from 0.944 in 0.913 indices) are Norway, Australia, Switzerland, Denmark, Netherlands, Germany, Ireland, USA, Canada and New Zealand.


Despite the extent of poverty, the report notes that the number of people living in a not very favourable background for human development, has decreased from 3 billion people in 1990 to a little more than one billion in 2014 on 7.3 billion people on 4 hours of unpaid work, women make it 3, more than 200 million people whose 74 million young people are unemployed, 2 billion people were able to get out of a low level of HDI over the past 25 years, 7 billion people today subscribe to a mobile phone service, 61% of those working in the world have no contract and only 27% of the world’s population enjoys full social protection.

3 – HDI represents a significant breakthrough in the field of the use of indicators more credible than the gross domestic product (GDP).  But according to many international experts this indicator has significant gaps which are mainly :

  • The choice and weighting of the chosen indicators remain arbitrary;
  • The quality and reliability of the data used to calculate it are highly variable from one country to another;
  • It uses averages, without taking into account inequalities such as socio-professional as well as space related, hence the concentration of national income to the benefit of a minority of rentier;
  • The level both of schooling and health, vary considerably depending on the country;
  • Some social indicators are hardly quantifiable, distorting comparisons from one country to the other;

The qualitative analysis must necessarily complement quantitative deficiencies.  It is also desirable to complete this index by new indicators that take into account the participation, the kind, the enjoyment of human rights, civil liberties, social integration, and environmental sustainability and especially for Third-Word countries, perhaps the weight of the informal sphere.  All this however would suppose another statistical performance apparatus to be adapted to social situations.  As previously analysed, in the future it should include the participation rate of women, signs of development, in the management of the city, of environmental and democratic indicators including freedom of the press and corruption indices.

4 – In short, I welcome the positive note attributed to Algeria by the UNDP, hoping that the country’s structural reforms are initiated quickly in order to consolidate these very achievements.

Meanwhile, I also noted that in its latest report on Global Innovation Index, the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO-2016) reported that Algeria got a score (admittedly very mixed because no development could be had without innovation and no correlation with the important education budget) of 24.5 points and ranked 113rd out of 128 countries, but up 13 notches. Its neighbours, Morocco has progressed six places from 2015, and arrives at the top of the countries of North Africa, followed by Tunisia (77th) and the Egypt (107th).

For Arab countries, we have the United Arab Emirates at the 41st followed by Saudi Arabia (49th), Qatar (50th) and Bahrain (57th).   South Africa (54th) comes at the head of the African countries.

Globally, Switzerland, Sweden, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Finland and Singapore are the most innovative countries.  In the bottom of the ranking, there are five African countries (Burundi, Niger, Zambia, Togo and Guinea).  Also, let us both avoid any free pessimism and be lulled into complacency :  many achievements since political independence, but also many shortcomings that it is correct, taking account of the transformation of the world, avoiding utopian schemes of the past.  Before all of the internal actors, adaptation, depending on strategies must be based on both fundamental development of the 21st century, namely, good governance and the knowledge economy.

 Dr. Abderrahmane Mebtoul, University Professor, Expert International,

Translation from French by Microsoft / FaroL

(1)- Human Development-Report 2015  -Work for Human Development (288 pages)

See – The future of human development measures – 08 June 2016. Selim Jahan, Director of the Office of the UNDP  and the Human Development Report 2015 on Algeria.


Chiselling Away a Mountain

Chiselling Away a Mountain

My new diet and exercise regime.

This week, I took up membership of my local gym undeterred by many previous episodes of overwhelming enthusiasm followed by overwhelming apathy.   It was a reaction to looking in the mirror one day without squinting my eyes or adjusting the angle of my pose, I actually frightened myself.

The problem with dieting is that we are trying to achieve something quite contrary to our internal wiring.  We are hardwired to expect famine after periods of plenty and it is quite a job to convince yourself there is a famine when the larders are stocked full of food.

As you get past your twenties you earn the body you have.  There is something odd about the fact that you have do so much to create less of yourself, after all, we are used to feeding our minds like gluttons with only benefits arising.

The Gym

The only piece of good news I found was that weight loss best occurs in the lower ends of the training zone and people who are most overweight lose weight the quickest.  This means that I should not tear at the static bicycles like a beetroot-faced maniac.   I actually found that when I exercised in the correct training zone, my mood was enhanced and I felt well afterwards.

The World Health Organisation recommends thirty minutes of MODERATE exercise a day to help us 300 million obese people lose weight.  It also recommends reduction in sugar and fat and an increase in fruit and vegetables.

I am avoiding sugar at the moment, I hope that’s enough but I expect it isn’t.

Inspiration is the best weapon against apathy and I am going to try and inspire myself with pictures of mountains I could climb if only I didn’t have to carry all this fat with me.

Good luck finding your own inspiration for the week.

%d bloggers like this: