Physicians at the Tropical and Infectious Diseases Division at Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City (SSMC), one of the UAE’s largest hospitals for serious and complex care and a joint-venture partnership between Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (SEHA) and Mayo Clinic, are highlighting the importance of increasing awareness about infectious diseases and seeking help early.
Dr. Emmanuel Nsutebu, division chair of Tropical and Infectious Diseases, says: “There are many misconceptions about what we do and the services we offer, and this can prevent people from getting the care they need. We regularly see people who suffer from serious complications of infections because they have misgivings about seeking care at infectious diseases clinics.”
The physicians at SSMC’s Division of Tropical and Infectious Diseases look after anyone with an infection, regardless of whether it can be passed from person to person. Common infections that are treated are often those that are contracted from within local communities, such as brucellosis, urinary tract infections, and skin infections. SSMC also sees patients who have travelled abroad, and who might have contracted an illness following their travels, like typhoid fever, malaria, and other parasitic infections. “We treat patients who have developed an infection as a result of health care, such as infections that occur after surgery,” explains Dr. Emmanuel. “We also treat patients who have infections due to a weakened immune system such as after organ transplantation or chemotherapy.”
Dr. Emmanuel adds: “One of our patients recently told us that he was initially hesitant to visit the Division of Tropical and Infectious Diseases, however after attending, he felt reassured and that he was part of our family. According to him, unlike other infectious diseases clinics he had been to, he was comfortable to discuss anything with us and had confidence that we had the expert knowledge to look after him. He was grateful that we explained things to him in a way that he could understand and involved him in his care. He is now doing very well and has returned to normal life at work and with his family.
“We appreciate that people may not always be comfortable about seeing infectious diseases health care professionals because they fear the stigma or judgement, particularly if they have an ailment that they don’t want to talk about. This is why we place such an important emphasis on safeguarding our patient’s privacy and confidentiality, as well as providing a highly personalized service for them,” continues Dr. Emmanuel.
Physicians warn that there is also a real cost to delaying treatment. Patients often experience complications from an infection, making it more difficult to treat. It is also important to note that treatment may also work as prevention for other family and community members. There is also a focus on the prevention of infections through interventions such as early treatment, vaccination, and lifestyle changes.
People are encouraged to visit SSMC’s Division of Tropical and Infectious Diseases if they are concerned about symptoms that suggest they may have an infection or are at risk of infections because of travel, their daily activities, or a weakened immune system. Experts are available to work with patients, look after them, answer questions and safeguard their confidentially.