DUBAI– The Ministry of Health and Prevention has closed several medical and pharmaceutical establishments nationwide for one to four months, depending on their violations, following inspections conducted by the Health Governance Department. The inspections were undertaken to ensure that all health facilities operating in the UAE are compliant with existing health regulations.
Monitoring was also done amidst reports concerning safety violations by a number of health facilities in the country. The violations included poor storage of medicines and other pharmaceutical products, non-compliance with engineering standards and procedures for medical devices’ sterilization, non-disposal of medical waste, and lack of proper ventilation.
Dr. Amin Hussein Al Amiri, Assistant Undersecretary for Public Policy and Licensing of the Ministry of Health and Prevention and Vice Chairman for Supreme National Drug Registration, said the closures were disciplinary rather than punitive to ensure compliance with regulations at the highest standards. The move was in line with the Ministry’s mandate to safeguard community health and was based on laws and regulations governing medical and pharmaceutical establishments to guarantee that they are operating according to the highest standards imposed in the UAE and worldwide, in order to achieve the national index for all hospitals to have their facilities internationally accredited.
Ministry stages over 1,600 inspections in H1 of 2017
According to Dr. Al Amiri, the Ministry conducted 1,656 inspections of 548 medical facilities and 633 pharmaceutical facilities and warehouses; 470 engineering inspections of medical establishments; and five judicial seizures during the first half of the year. These accomplishments demonstrate the Ministry’s full support for all local health establishments through monitoring, supervising, and inspecting medical establishments in the country. Additionally, it has launched initiatives increasing the number of specialized medical staff working as inspectors who will carry out judicial seizures in the country backed by the latest technologies.
During the first half of 2017, the Ministry-led team conducted almost the same number of inspections covering pharmacies and medical warehouses held in 2015 and 2016.
Private health sector and sustainable development
Dr. Al Amiri emphasized that the Ministry has been encouraging the private sector to invest in the local health industry as the UAE’s strategic partner to achieve sustainable development according to enacted laws and regulations. He said that the Ministry leads the enforcement of local health policies and ensures good health governance in partnership with leading public and private institutions.
Three medical centers shut down due to poor drug storage and non-sterilization of devices
In coordination with the Department of Economic Development, the Ministry of Health and Prevention ordered the one-month closure of three medical centers in line with its Grievance Committee’s decision. The centers have one month to comply with the Ministry’s regulations and existing laws before they are allowed to operate again. The Committee cited an inspection report that enumerated their violations such as improper medicine preservation in terms of correct room temperature; direct light exposure; non-sterilization of devices; and the absence of medical waste disposal bags. The report also noted the absence of tools to combat infections, poor sterilization of medical tools and supplies, and the lack of a system preventing the transmission of viral diseases to patients.
Four-month closure for health facility
The Department of Operations has closed a one-day surgery hospital for four months in coordination with the emirate’s Department of Economic Development. The Department of Operations will evaluate the facility before its re-opening. The erring hospital is also required to undergo rehabilitation and the necessary engineering modifications, including on its ventilation system, for six months. In addition, the facility was found to be violating a provision concerning waste storage. The Radiology Department was also not up to the Ministry’s standards as the ceiling of its sterilization room was found to be not chemically washable. The department, which failed to implement and comply with the standards, was already informed about its violations within the prescribed six-month notice period.
Closure of three private pharmacies for one to two months
Three private pharmacies were also ordered to stop their operations for one to two months after they were found guilty of violating health regulations, certain provisions of the Pharmacy Law, and related ministerial decisions. The violations include the sale of controlled and semi-controlled drugs and antibiotics without prescriptions; poor drug storage; the absence of a responsible pharmacist; and allowing unauthorized personnel to work in these pharmacies.