ELT Conference Focuses on Quality in Teaching
News Round Up
The Economic Potential of Camel Meat
Mind Over Matter
SQU Explores Ties with Canadian Universities
News Update
Child Maltreatment
Needs More Attention
Department of Public
Relations and Information
Sultan Qaboos University
Issue 240
View Point
Are You in a Rush?
We hope the University Security Department’s decision to open two lanes
of Gate 3 (from Al Khoudh) for entry of vehicles for 45 minutes from 7.15
am till 8.00 am instead of the previous 30 minutes from 7.30 am, is practical. This could further reduce the morning traffic rush caused by vehicles
coming to the university. However, there are a few drivers, either students
or university employees, who are in a rush even during the slow movement of vehicles resulting from traffic congestion. Some of them even go
for excessive lane changing which is one of the worst driving habits. Always in a rush is a symptom of poor time management. Those who are
in a rush to get the office or classroom do not factor in adequate extra
time needed either in the morning or right after work when traffic is the
heaviest.
Mohamed Salem Al Ghailani
Editorial Supervision
Humaid Abdullah Al Adwani
Editor in Chief
M.K. Santhosh
Senior Editor
Ahlam Al Wahaibi
Design & Layout
Rashad Al Wahaibi
& Photography Dept., CET
Photography
It is always better if students and staff could wake up earlier in the morning and go to bed earlier the night before so we are alert behind the wheel.
We could prepare as much as possible during the night by setting out our
work materials and wardrobe. As far as possible we could schedule appointments and travel outside of rush hours even though this may not be
possible for students and staff who have to reach the lecture hall, lab or
office on time.
As far as we know, none of the car accidents inside the university premises resulted in any loss of life but there have been injuries requiring ambulances and vehicles requiring tow trucks. We are sure that we watch on
television and read in newspapers everyday about other accidents where
the circumstances were much worse.
Fender-benders, occurring frequently within the university premises are
totally preventable. If only individuals learn not to be in so much of a
rush, a lot of damage, injuries and grief could be avoided. This is always
a very expensive lesson for those who were the offending drivers as they
not only put themselves at risk, but also other innocent drivers, passengers and pedestrians in danger. We have all heard that by improving our
time management habits, we will become more productive. But now we
also know that better time management in terms of advance preparation
can also possibly save lives and limbs.
Horizon invites contributions from SQU members of staff and faculty. Contributions in the form of articles,
news, travelogues, stories of unique and interesting experiences, encounters, etc., are welcome. Contributions
may be edited for the sake of clarity and length. Please send your contributions to [email protected] preferably, as MSWord attachments. Authors will be suitably credited.
Horizon is published three times a month by the Department of Public Relations and Information,
Sultan Qaboos University, P.O. Box 50, P.C. 123, Muscat, Sultanate of Oman.
Phone: +968 24141045
E-mail: [email protected]
20 April 2012 P2
Fax: +968 24413 391
Website: www.squ.edu.om
New Zealand Minister at SQU
News Update
SQU Explores Ties with
Canadian Universities
Hon Steven Joyce, Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister of
New Zealand visited Sultan Qaboos University last week in order to explore
collaboration in higher education between the universities in his country
and SQU. The minister was received by HH Sayyida Dr. Mona bint Fahad
Al Said, Assistant Vice Chancellor for External Cooperation, SQU.
Both sides discussed on enhancing exchange of medical students between
SQU and the universities in New Zealand for overseas clinical elective
programs and residency programs. They also discussed on strengthening
research collaboration and capacity building in different areas including
environmental science, agriculture, fisheries and water resources.
In a statement the minister said that the aim of his visit is to raise New
Zealand’s profile as a destination for international students and to support
education companies seeking to grow their business in the region. “Since
2008 students from the Gulf States studying in New Zealand have grown
by 33.4 per cent and are now approaching 7500. This makes the Gulf States
our fifth largest source of international students,” Hon Joyce said.
SQU Hosts Arab-German
Medical Conference
A high level delegation from Sultan Qaboos University headed by HE
Dr. Ali bin Saud al Bimani, the Vice Chancellor, is currently visiting
Canada in order to explore possibilities of partnership with the Canadian universities. The Vice Chancellor is accompanied by Dr. Hilal Al
Sabti, Deputy Director General of SQU Hospital, Dr. Abdullah Rashid
Al Asmi, Chairman of Hospital Training Committee, Salahaddin Al
Saadi, Deputy Director, Office of External Cooperation, and Dr. Abdullah Al Harthy and Dr. Hani Al Qadhi, Consultant Surgeons.
The SQU delegation is having numerous meetings with some of the
top Canadian universities--University of British Columbia, University
of Calgary, University of Manitoba, McGill University, Dalhousie University, University of Toronto, and The Michener Institute. The main
agenda of this trip is to explore residency and fellowship opportunities
for Omani doctors in the fields of Emergency Medicine, Anatomical
Pathology, Internal Medicine, Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, Psychiatry,
Ophthalmology, Diagnostic Radiology, Surgery, Anesthesia, Family/
Com Medicine, Obstetrics & Gynecology, and Hematology.
Dr. Al Bimani, being a North American-trained Petroleum Engineer,
will also discuss potential collaboration in the field of Petroleum Engineering. The delegation is also meeting with McGill Centre of Genomics and Policy to discuss collaborative initiatives. On the final leg of the
trip, the Vice Chancellor will fly to the US to attend the Falaj Exhibit in
the University of Arizona to be held on 20 and 21 of April.
Ninth Translation
Forum Held
The opening ceremony of the Arab-German Medical Conference, organized
by the College of Medicine & Health Sciences at Sultan Qaboos University
in association with the Republic of Germany, the Ministry of Health, and
the Research Council, was held at Al Bustan Palace Hotel, under the patronage of HE Dr. Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Saidi, the Minister of Health.
HH Sayyida Dr. Mona bint Fahd al Said, SQU Assistant Vice Chancellor
for External Cooperation, and HE Angelika Storz-Chakarji, Ambassador of
Germany to the Sultanate of Oman, participated in the opening ceremony.
Dr. Adil Alajmi, Consultant Breast Reconstructive Surgeon at SQU Hospital
and Chair of the Conference said that the three day conference covered 42
papers from different specialties. Three workshops where held on the sidelines conference, two in the role of ultrasound in breast and pelvis and the
third is in orthopaedics.
“A number of prominent professors and doctors from Germany and Oman
gave presentations which covered debatable and controversial topics in surgical and medical fields, such as breast and reconstructive surgery, bariatric
surgery, child health care, colorectal surgery, pancreas and hepatobiliary
surgery, orthopaedic surgery and upper medical and surgical gastroenterology”, he said.
The 9th Translation Forum organised by the Translation Group at
SQU was held recently under the theme “The role of translation
in intercultural communication”. The opening ceremony was held
under the patronage of HE Dr. Abdullah bin Nasser al-Harrasi,
Chairman of the Public Authority for Radio and TV. Dr. Al-Harrasi
said that the event reflected the interest of SQU students in translation in Oman as the Sultanate has a prominent role in translation
and it has been a centre where throughout history different civilization had met. Specialized exhibition was held on the sidelines of
the forum which centred on a number of themes. The first theme
was programmes and strategies used in teaching simultaneous
interpretation, challenges facing simultaneous interpreter, the
method of improving the performance of simultaneous interpreter
and how far does the simultaneous interpretation contributes to
intercultural communication.
The second theme dealt with literary translation represented in
the importance of literary translation in conveying various cultural identities among nations, the quality of literary translation
and challenges facing translation and translator. The last theme
focussed on media translation in terms of features of media translation, common mistakes in media translation, how to find out appropriate solutions to correct such mistakes and avoiding them in
the future and how far does the media translation contribute to
intercultural communication.
20 April 2012 P3
Insight
“Child Maltreatment
Needs More Attention”
Six case studies published in the current issue of SQU
Medical Journal (February 2012) by Dr. Muna Al Sadoon,
Assistant Professor in the Department of Child Health
at Sultan Qaboos University, and her colleagues, indicate that there are different instances of children being
maltreated in Oman. SQU medical researchers state that
though there are no statistics to indicate the frequency
of such treatment, clearly it does exist, as evidenced by
the reported cases.
The cases reported in SQU Hospital are the following:
1. A newborn boy, the result of an unwanted pregnancy,
was abandoned by the mother after admission to the hospital. Later the mother was brought back by the police.
The case was referred to the Ministry of Social Development for social evaluation and support. The mother was
forced to take the baby home following completion of
the treatment, even though the SQUH Child Protection
Team advised against discharge. At the age of 1 month,
the baby was brought by his father and stepmother to
the emergency room in a state of cardio-respiratory arrest, with bleeding from the nose and mouth. Resuscitation was performed, but efforts were not successful and
it was not possible to revive him. This raise questions
regarding the preceding events.
2. A 12-year-old girl was admitted to the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit with multi-organ failure. All investigations as to possible causes of the above were negative,
but the girl had high mercury levels. Parents admitted
to applying mercury as a traditional treatment for hair
lice. The girl, who had been completely normal prior to
the lice treatment, unfortunately died of acute mercury
poisoning.
3. A 22-month-old girl was admitted to the hospital following apparent strangulation. She had been playing
unattended in a swing in her house when the child’s
mother had found her hanging from the neck by the
swing’s rope. The child was unresponsive, floppy, and
not breathing, and required mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and chest compressions at home. On arrival at the
emergency room she was conscious but drowsy, with a
weak cry and evidence of strangulation on the neck and
face. The child was admitted and treated as an inpatient
and fortunately survived. An evaluation of the home environment and the height of the swing in comparison
to the child’s height and physical abilities should have
been carried out to ascertain whether the incident was a
consequence of physical insult or child neglect.
4. A 12-year-old girl was referred to SQUH for an evaluation of chronic abdominal pain, bloody stool, perianal
abscess and progressive weight loss over the previous
year. She had been seen previously by many paediatricians, but her mother repeatedly refused to consent
to any invasive diagnostic investigations. Upper and
lower gastrointestinal tract endoscopies were done at
SQUH and the diagnosis of Crohn’s disease was estab20 April 2012 P4
lished. The child was started on the necessary standard
medications as advised by the gastroenterologist. Poor
compliance with treatment was later suspected based
on uncontrolled symptoms and a non-reduction in inflammatory indices. A subsequent colonoscopy showed
persistent lesions and the mother admitted to not giving
the child her medications. The child subsequently developed a urinary tract infection and the mother refused
admission for intravenous antibiotics. The child was
then discharged against medical advice.
5. A 3-year-old boy was brought to the clinic by his
mother, who had observed remarkable changes in his
behaviour. The boy had become aggressive and had begun expressing sexualised behaviours. The parents were
separated and in the process of divorce. The mother suspected recurrent sexual abuse of the child by three teenaged male relatives during the weekly visits to the father’s family home. Accordingly, the child was seen once
in the local health centre and reported to have bruises
around the anus. The child was referred to a paediatric
psychologist for analysis and therapy. The huge efforts
of the mother and the child protection team resulted in
a halt to the abuse.
6. A 7-month-old boy with recurrent episodes of limb
fractures was referred from a peripheral hospital to be
evaluated for possibility of repeated physical insult. According to the history obtained from the parents, at the
age of 2 months, mother noticed reduced movements of
the boy’s right upper arm. Evaluation at the local hospital revealed a fracture of the lower end of the right
humerus. At the age of four months, a second fracture
of the lower end of the left femur was diagnosed after
the mother observed reduced movements of the left leg.
Investigations for bone diseases were negative at that
stage. A third new fracture of the left humerus was diagnosed at the age of six months after which the patient
was then referred to SQUH. Parents denied any history
of trauma preceding any of the above mentioned fractures, but they told the child protection team of SQU
hospital that they had sent an expatriate housemaid
back to her country ten days after the first event. They
did not reveal the reasons for terminating her contract.
The parents were extensively counselled concerning the
apparent non-accidental injury. The child has been under close follow-up for the last three years and no further fractures or major injuries have been noted.
Dr. Muna Al Sadoon and team conclude their case studies with the remark that child maltreatment exists in
Oman as elsewhere. “The incidents highlights the need
for community education regarding children’s rights,
the need for judicious support to protect these children,
the deficiency of supportive multi-disciplinary teams,
the lack of experienced investigators, proper social support and the unavailability of a place of safety for those
unfortunate victims of child maltreatment”, the physicians said.
Mind Over Matter
By: Dr. Msafiri Daudi Mbaga
College of Agricultural & Marine Sciences
The Economic Potential of Camel Meat
What is the potential of camel meat as a substitute for other meats? In this article,
the author attempts to answer such a question by briefly highlighting the strengths
and weaknesses of camel meat vis-à-vis other meats.
Animal meat production has significant impact on nearly all aspects of the
environment, including air and climate change, land and soil, water and
biodiversity. The impact may be direct through grazing, or indirect through
the expansion of feed production. Among all animal meats, beef is the most
popular and widely produced in the world. Unfortunately it is also the most
inefficient animal meat to produce in terms of the amount of inputs needed
to produce it. Grain-fed beef production for example, takes 100,000 litres
of water for every kilogram of food. In terms of energy, beef cattle require
an energy input to protein output ratio of 54:1. Furthermore, beef has the
highest water footprint at 15400 m3/ton. FAO projects the global meat production to more than double from 229 million tonnes in 1999 to 465 million
tonnes in 2050. To meet the projected demand for meat by the year 2050
more land and water would be needed, consequently putting significant
pressure on currently available land and water resources. In this backdrop,
camel meat production seems to be the alternative, because among other
things, camels require fewer resources in terms of land and water.
Most of the dromedary camels are found in the hot arid areas of the Middle East and Africa. Camels have great tolerance to hash conditions of high
temperatures, water scarcity and poor vegetation. In these harsh environments, camels feed on low quality feeds and fodder that are generally not
utilized by other domestic species. As a result, camels can be raised to produce meat at a comparatively low cost than other domestic animals such as
goats, sheep and cattle. Young camel, less than three years of age, produces
high quality low fat meat which is also a good source of minerals. Age is
therefore an important factor in determining camel meat quality and composition. Health wise, camel meat has less fat as well as low levels of cholesterol compared to other animal meats. Quality wise, meat from young
camels is comparable to beef. Therefore camel meat could potentially be
used as a substitute for beef meat.
Strengths of Camel Meat
Camel meat strengths are those positive attributes that give it an edge over
other rival meats such as beef in the marketplace. Camel meat is lean and
has been scientifically proven to be much healthier than many other animal meats. It is a low fat meat, low in cholesterol and high in protein. This
makes it an ideal meat for those with dietary problems such as diabetics and
high cholesterol. Camel meat is already a popular meat product in the Muslim world, Australia and in China. The global Muslim population trends
indicate that there were 1.619 billion Muslims in the world in 2010. Studies
indicate that the world’s Muslim population is expected to reach 2.2 billion by 2030. This huge increase in Muslim population, coupled with the
recent increase in the popularity of camel meat in Australia and China creates an unprecedented potential for camel meat. Camel meat is less costly to
produce and it is ecologically harmless. This is because camels are usually
reared by nomads in arid regions, feeding mainly on annual grass, acacias,
and dwarf bushes which are not costly. Even where camels are raised in
commercial facilities, the production costs are lower than those for other
meats There are many identified uses for camel meat as well as camel meat
recipes. The availability of tasty and easy to prepare camel meat recipes
makes it easier for potential consumers to try camel meat. Camel meat benefits from using the well-established beef terminologies and specifications.
Establishing meat specifications and terminologies to represent the various
specifications is important for meat buyers.
Weaknesses of Camel Meat
However, there are certain weaknesses associated with camel meat. These
are the inherent disadvantages it has over other meats in the marketplace.
These weaknesses need to be addressed fully if camel meat is to realize its
potential as a substitute for beef and other meats. The weaknesses include:
Lack of consumer awareness regarding camel meat. Generally there is lack
of consumer awareness with regard to camel meat aside from the Muslim
world where camel meat is traditionally consumed. Elsewhere few people are aware of the nutritional and health benefits from consuming camel
meat.
Consumers tend to relate camel meat with the animal itself, which gives rise
to concerns about hygiene and cleanliness and to negative perceptions that
the meat is smelly and tough. Camel meat has been described by consumers as being chewy and tough even though it is not different from beef in
terms of flavour. This discourages potential consumers from buying camel
meat. Recent findings indicates that young camels below three years of age
produces high quality low fat meat that is comparable to beef.
Lack of Halal certification. Since the Muslim world is the largest and most
important market for camel meat. Halal certification is therefore, very important for meat slaughtered in any slaughtering facility across the globe
to be accepted by Muslims. The lack of Halal certification for many of the
camel slaughtering facilities outside the Muslim world automatically excludes their products from entering the global Muslim market.
The most important strengths of camel meat is that it healthier than many
other animal meats in that it is low in fat and cholesterol. With regard to
weaknesses, it has been observed that generally there is lack of consumer
awareness with respect to the benefits of camel meat. Consumers also tend
to relate camel meat with the animal itself. Most of the observed weaknesses
could be addressed through public awareness and marketing campaigns.
20 April 2012 P5
News Round Up
Focus on Preventing
‘Globesity’ and Diabetes
In association with the International Forum for Public Health
(IFPH), London, UK, Sultan Qaboos University Hospital organized two intensive workshops on prevention and management of obesity and diabetes in Oman. Dr Ihab Tewfik,
Chairman, IFPH, and Dr Sundus Tewfik, Executive Coordinator, IFPH, led the workshops. The Nutrition and Dietetic
Department, the The Training and Continuous Development
Department and the Hospital Public Relations Department
played an active role in conducting the workshops. A total
of 70 participants from different health sectors in Oman participated in this four-day hands-on workshop-training programme.
The workshop highlighted the assessment of risk factors for
diabetes, its diagnosis and management among children, adolescents and adults in Oman. Furthermore, the workshop examined current attempts to prevent and/or delay the onset of
diabetes among Omani populations. This intensive workshop
was aimed at building capacity among a multi-disciplinary
team of participants including educational and health professionals (doctors, nurses, Dietitians, and nutritionists) as well
as diabetes educators.
The focus of the workshop was to enable the development of
knowledge and skills for balanced diet and early prevention
of identification of diabetes and its health related risks within
local communities. The major objective was to allow participants to develop simple but effective diagnostics to predict
pre-diabetes in order to prevent overweight, obesity and/or
diabetes and health complications within their own community, employing the principles of team work and utilising locally available resources.
Ms. Salma Al-Mahroqui, Dietitian SQUH, and event organizer highlighted on the training workshops output and said
that participants have learned team work and have been engaged in active participant-led discussions on the underlying
risk factors, truths and traditional myths about the causes, diagnosis & treatment, management and health intervention of
obesity and diabetes mellitus within the community.
Ms. A’Shaima Al-Kindi, Senior Dietitian, SQUH, commented
that this scientific link between SQUH and IFPH will definitely increase knowledge/skill base of public health staff in
SQUH with special reference to the prevention of obesity/
diabetes and its related health complications. “Also, it supports the design of programmes, interventions and policies
that addresses delay the onset of diabetes and its health consequences. Moreover, it will create the chance to test a model
of health education that links primary health care centres and
clusters of local communities, i.e. health promotion through
schools and home”, she said.
20 April 2012 P6
ELT Conference Focuses
on Quality in Teaching
The opening ceremony of the 12th edition of the Oman International ELT Conference, organized by the Language Centre at Sultan Qaboos University, was held recently under the patronage of Dr. Hamoud bin Khalfan al Harthy, Under-Secretary
for Education and Curricula at the Ministry of Education. The theme of this years
conference was “Quality in ELT: Raising Pedagogical Standards”.
In his address, Hon. Dr. Saleh Al Busaidi, Director of the Language Centre, said that
terms like quality assurance, accreditation and standards have recently become
popular words in educational circles. “Every institution has suddenly realised that
they need to undergo the accreditation exercise. Accreditation is important. But is
exercise is helpful as long as its is genuinely done as part of our everyday work.
Quality management should start from within. It cannot be suddenly forced. It has
to be organically integrated into the system”, Dr. Saleh said. Ms. Najat Al Kabani,
the Chair of the Conference said that this year they had 54 papers, 14 workshops
and 1 poster. “This year we had presenters from various countries including the
GCC, UK, USA, Palestine, Cyprus, Malaysia and Japan”.
In his plenary speech, Jeremy Harmer shared his insights on many contemporary
views about how languages are learned. Peter Grundy, another keynote speaker,
spoke about how learning should be managed and what teachers of integrity owe
their learners. The third keynote speaker, Dr Rebecca Oxford discussed the meaning of language learning strategies, why learning strategies are important for students and how teachers can help students optimise their learning strategies.
SQU Academic Co-edits Book
on Food Process Design
The Handbook of Food Process Design into two
volumes has been recently released by WileyBlackwell, West Sessex, UK. Dr. Shafiur Rahman,
one of the editors, is a Professor in the Department of Food Science and Nutrition, Sultan Qaboos University. Other editor Dr. Jasim Ahmed
is a Research Scientist in the Food and Nutrition
Program at the Kuwait Institute for Scientific
Research, Safat, Kuwait. This book is a major
two-volume work aimed at food engineers and
the wider food industry. Comprising 46 original
chapters written by a host of leading international food scientists, engineers, academics and systems specialists, the book has been developed to
be the most comprehensive guide to food process
design ever published.
In the 21st Century, processing food is no longer a simple or straightforward matter. Ongoing advances in manufacturing have placed new demands on the design
and methodology of food processes. A highly interdisciplinary science, food process design draws upon the principles of chemical and mechanical engineering,
microbiology, chemistry, nutrition and economics, and is of central importance
to the food industry. Starting from first principles, the book provides a complete
account of food process designs, including heating and cooling, pasteurization,
sterilization, refrigeration, drying, crystallization, extrusion, and separation.
Mechanical operations include mixing, agitation, size reduction, extraction and
leaching processes are fully documented.
More than 1420 research projects worth 20 million riyals
undertaken since inception; funded through internal grants,
joints grants, strategic grants, consultancy services, and
external grants. Research findings resulted in publishing
hundreds of papers in reputed scientific journals in addition to
numerous conference presentations. Research adds to the
prestige of the university; the progress continues with more
advanced researches.
A Sun that never sets
Straight Talk
Horizon: How would you comment on consanguinity and consanguineous marriages?
Prof. Romeo: I have been interested in and doing research on
Prof. Giovanni Romeo
Giovanni Romeo is Professor of Medical Genetics at the University
of Bologna Medical School in Italy. In 1988, he founded the European
School of Genetic Medicine (ESGM) together with the late Prof. Victor McKusick, and he serves as its current Director. He is an eminent
human geneticist who has made important contributions to the discipline as an educator, an experimental scientist, as head of research
groups and academic institutes, as coordinator of national and international research programs. Prof. Romeo gave a talk on “Consanguinity studies and genome research in inbred populations” at the
International Conference of GCC Medical Students hosted by SQU.
consanguinity for the last 35 years. In Italy consanguinity was quite
common until 40 years ago (especially in the Calabria region, where
I was born) and studies on consanguinity started even before we geneticists could analyze DNA in families. Consanguinity is still common in the Mediterranean region, the Middle East and the Gulf, and
in countries like Pakistan and India where marriages between first or
second cousins can account for about 20 to 40 percent of total marriages. If you take the example of Oman, this rate today is around
30 percent. Many people blame consanguinity as a factor that leads
inevitably to hereditary diseases which is not fair. There are good and
bad effects of consanguinity. From an historical point of view there
have been positive social and cultural effects of consanguinity in a
country like Oman. If you go to the medical side of it, you see that
genes causing rare disorders (we call them autosomal recessive rare
disorders) appear more frequently among children of consanguineous rather than in children of non-consanguineous parents. But this
is true only for rare disorders. Let’s take the examples of thalassemia
and sickle cell anaemia, two blood disorders common in Oman for
which 10 percent of the people carry one copy of the “mutated” gene.
If they marry each other, they can have an affected child carrying two
copies of the “mutated” gene, one from mother and one from father.
Parents need not to be relatives for the child to be affected with either
disorder. Hence we cannot blame just consanguinity for thalassemia
or sickle cell anaemia. In addition many people ignore the fact that if
you carry a single copy of the “mutated” gene you will be more resistant to parasitic infections like malaria. My personal opinion is that
not enough research has been done to discover the possible beneficial
genetic effects of consanguinity.
Horizon: What is your message for Oman where consanguineous
marriages are common?
Prof. Romeo: If you want to prevent a rare genetic disorder
(which can be more frequent in children of consanguineous parents)
you should first identify its cause or, as we say in genetics, the “mutated gene”. What is most important is therefore to do research and
to find the exact cause of the disease because this will lead not only to
a possible prevention, but also, in the long run, to a possible cure.
Horizon: How would you comment on the ethical aspects of preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD)?
Prof. Romeo: I believe that Islam is more liberal than other religions in dealing with PGD which is a technique used to identify
genetic defects in embryos generated through in vitro fertilization
(IVF) before the starting of pregnancy. PGD is therefore performed
very early during the development of the embryo to determine if this
carries a genetic abnormality. If you do PGD this implies that you
want to transfer in the mother’s womb only the unaffected embryo.
In many countries PGD provides an alternative to current prenatal
diagnostic procedures which can be followed by the painful and difficult decision of pregnancy termination if the results are unfavourable. In many countries PGD is an ethically acceptable way of preventing heritable genetic disorders, but each country has to establish
its own ethical code on such sensitive issues.
Horizon: Could you summarise the activities of the European Genetics Foundation and of the European School of Genetic Medicine?
Prof. Romeo: The European School of Genetic Medicine
(ESGM) is the only initiative in Europe that offers advanced training
in the fields of genetics and genomics in medicine. Several thousands
of medical students from across the world have attended ESGM
courses over the last 25 years. The ESGM is attracting students from
an increasing number of countries from the Southern Mediterranean
rim and the Middle East. I hope ESGM will be able to open soon an
office in Oman and start here its advanced training for health professional and students. Nowadays, genetics plays a central role in medicine and the number of studies aimed at preventing genetic disorders
is growing. The technology for genome sequencing has become very
cheap. What we need is capacity building and training of personnel
to develop in the proper way the applications of genetics. During
the present scientific conference so nicely organized by the Omani
medical students I proposed that the Gulf countries should take the
initiative to establish a “GCC Genome Project” whereby comprehensive genomic research can be done starting with the study of consanguineous families.
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Child Maltreatment Needs More Attention