Virgin Health Bank and Shafallah Medical Genetics Center yesterday signed a memorandum of understanding to help the families of children suffering from genetic disorders in Qatar and to assist in the continued development of both organisations.
The MoU consists of a framework which includes offering specialised services to children at Shafallah and their families, as well as for providing educational resources.
Certain genetic disorders are more prevalent in Qatar and the region than elsewhere, and this agreement is aimed at assisting people that may not otherwise be able to find help easily.
CEO of Virgin Health Bank, Dr Rajan Jethwa said: “Signing this agreement with the Shafallah Medical Genetics Center (SMGC) is a major step for us here in Qatar.”
“We have the support from the public sector at HMC and the private sector as being the stem cell bank of choice,” he noted, adding “now, we are being endorsed by one of the most prestigious and respected non-profit healthcare institutions in the region.”
“Our values at Virgin Health Bank are perfectly aligned with those of SMGC and we are very excited about developing our futures together, for the benefit of the local population in Qatar,” he added.
Managing director of SMGC, Dr Hatem el-Shanti noted: “We are very pleased to partner with Virgin Health Bank as we are certain that our joint efforts will lead to many positive changes in the field of cord blood banking and transplantation
in Qatar and the region.”
Dr Jethwa explained that Arabic patients requiring bone marrow transplants currently have almost no chance of finding a match outside their family, and only around a 25% chance of finding a match within their family.
However, cord blood cells offer a painless and easy alternative to bone marrow transplants.
Stem cells are currently involved in some 1,250 clinical trials, and can help treat a wide range of diseases, from Type II Diabetes, heart disease, muscular dystrophies, Parkinson’s disease and cerebral palsy among other illnesses.
The MoU will lead to both organisations implementing educational initiatives to improve awareness of stem cells and the genetic disorders that are particularly prevalent in Qatar and the region.
“Also covered by the agreement will be the creation of stem cell banking services and educational programmes specifically designed to meet the needs of families who are under the care and advice of SMGC,” added a spokesperson.
The agreement is for an initial five years, but the officials expressed their hopes that they can “achieve major milestones” within the first phase of the MoU and their belief that the partnership will continue long beyond that time.”
Dr Jethwa added that Virgin Health Bank is in discussions with government departments over the possibility of introducing a nationwide, public donor system for stem cells in the future.
Virgin Health Bank’s director of operations Chris Goodman and commercial director Andrew Glen were also present on the occasion.
Follow us on our social media channels: