The World Health Organisation (WHO) has finalised and deployed a regional disease alert system that will soon be adopted by the UAE, said a WHO expert recently. Dr Najeeb Al Shorbaiji, Coordinator, Knowledge Management, WHO for Eastern Mediterranean Region, said the system has been tested and implemented 90 per cent in Tunisia as a pilot country. “The system has been presented to the AGCC utive Board of Health Ministers’ Council for approval,” he said. Dr Shorbaiji, also said that the system would be in place in all GCC countries before the end of this year. “Under the system, the UAE will report disease outbreaks to WHO, which will have access to all the data and will use the appropriate information to display on its website. This is particularly important now because of outbreak of avian flu worldwide,” he emphasised. Dr Shorbaiji said WHO has opened strategic health operations centres in the GCC region for reporting of avian influenza where notifications can be received round the clock. “Countries have also developed national plans to combat diseases,” he added. Talking about lifestyle diseases in the UAE, Dr Shorbaiji said there was a noticeable shift in the pattern of diseases. “Where communicable diseases such as malaria, polio and tuberculosis are no longer a threat, lifestyle diseases such as obesity, diabetes and hypertension are leading to deaths,” he said. “The WHO is monitoring trends in the region and collecting data that will be used to formulate plans to tackle the diseases,” he added.