As part of its program to educate local and regional communities on key health problems, MSD UAE refocused its campaign on the ill health effects of sandstorms to emphasize the causes and symptoms of allergic rhinitis – through its newly launched ‘Assess Your Nose’ campaign.
The event was co-hosted with BinSina Pharmacy at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Dubai and was attended by Dr. Abdulla Ibrahim, FRCS(ENT) Consultant ENT – Al Qasimi Hospital, Sharjah, UAE and Assistant Clinical Professor – University of Sharjah, UAE; Expert Mr. Sufian Farrah from the National Centre of Meteorology & Seismology; the general manager of BinSina Pharmacy, Dr. Saleema Shurrab; and MSD Gulf’s Managing Director Mr. Mazen Altaruti.
The purpose of the discussion was to educate UAE citizens on how best to protect themselves against the effects of sandstorms and how to determine whether their congestion is due to allergic rhinitis through MSD’s Assess Your Nose campaign. Congestion is a symptom of both allergic rhinitis and the common cold; not receiving proper treatment for allergic rhinitis can significantly impact a person’s quality of life.
Dr. Abdulla Ibrahim, FRCS (ENT) discussed allergic rhinitis in the UAE and how to differentiate between the condition and other viral infections: “The UAE is susceptible to sandstorms especially during certain parts of the year when the weather changes. Unfortunately, this weather phenomenon triggers allergies resulting from the pollens, fungi, and other pollutants they carry. Addressing this illness in the UAE is of paramount importance as this is something that effects the entire population. Ensuring understanding of the condition will also help to curtail longer absences from work and decreased productivity in addition to avoiding more serious conditions that can arise from lack of proper attention. The aim of our ongoing campaign is to educate patients on the health risks from sandstorms, and to provide better information for medical professionals to diagnose respiratory and allergy-induced problems accurately. Accurate diagnosis relies upon differentiating between congestion as a result of allergic rhinitis versus a common cold. Highlighting the urgency of receiving proper treatment for allergic rhinitis will help to avoid any negative impact on the person’s quality of life. It is our hope that this awareness-raising program will benefit the health and wellbeing of the UAE’s citizens and residents.”
Mr. Mazen Altaruti, Managing Director of MSD Gulf said, “The UAE faces a number of severe sandstorms annually. The months of May to September are peak seasons for sandstorms, and consequently, for allergies among inhabitants. MSD is committed to addressing the health issues faced by local communities such as allergic rhinitis and providing innovative solutions with an optimal health benefit for the UAE community. Failure to receive the correct treatment for allergic rhinitis can lead to rhino sinusitis, nasal polyps, and asthma, which are more serious conditions that can be avoided if patients make the correct assessment of their symptoms when they first appear. The Assess Your Nose campaign and its congestion quantifier is a simple and effective way to bring a greater understanding.”
General manager of BinSina Pharmacy, Dr. Saleema Shurrab, commented, “Our pharmacies frequently receive customers suffering from respiratory conditions and nasal congestion caused by weather changes, and they are often ill-informed as to what those conditions might be. It is essential that an awareness and understanding of symptoms is promoted among UAE citizens and residents, and that healthcare professionals are in a position to make well-informed diagnoses on behalf of their patients.”
BinSina has 50 branches across the UAE, and has been a licensed pharmacy in the country since 1965. The chain provides pharmaceutical, medical and healthcare advice and products to customers nationwide in retail and residential locations.
Mr. Sofian Farrah of the National Centre of Meteorology & Seismology, emphasized, “Sandstorms are caused by a confluence of particles that are carried by turbulent and strong winds to a higher altitude. There are a variety of causes that contribute to dust eruption, dust transportation and pollens rising locally, most of which are related directly to changing pressure systems. Within a sandstorm are several triggering factors for allergies including fungi, pollens, dust mites, and other allergen producing particles. The variety of different pollutants in sandstorms cause a great many people to be affected as there is such a diversity of what can trigger allergies in these storms.”
Sandstorms are a major cause of allergic rhinitis, in particular. Their speed and range means they have the capacity to carry a large number of allergens that include dust mites, fungi and pollen. The risk of allergic reactions increases because of the large distances these meteorological phenomena cover during the sandstorm season, which runs between May and September in the Gulf region.