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Leading Medical Experts Warn Against Alarming Trend of Finding Cure Online and Self-Diagnosis

Leading medical experts trashed many commonly held misconceptions and warned against the growing trend of turning to the Internet and social media to self-diagnose and self-medicate.  Speaking on the issue of “Common Medical Misconceptions…Between Right and Wrong” at the 6th session of Sharjah Ramadan Majlis last night (Sunday) at Al Majaz Amphitheatre, medical experts and UAE Health ministry officials underscored the critical importance of approaching only authentic and authorised medical experts and doctors for consultation and treatment.

Presided over by Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi, Chairman of Sharjah Media Council, the 6th session of Sharjah Ramadan Majlis was hosted by the Sharjah Press Club (SPC) of the Sharjah Government Media Bureau (SGMB) and moderated by Dr Abdelsalam Alhammadi.

Eminent physician and social media personality Dr Ahmed Abdelmalek from Kuwait tackled a number of medical myths and misconceptions, passed down from generation to generation, to drive home the point that it is dangerous to experiment and play around with something as vital as one’s health.

Expressing his alarm over the growing global trend of turning to online sources, social media and various other so-called self-styled medical experts for self-diagnosis and self-medication, Dr Abdelmalek stressed that nothing can replace examination and diagnosis by a real, qualified and trained doctor. 

“A qualified and trained physician takes a number of factors into account while examining and treating a patient, something that online experts and unknown sources cannot,” said Dr Abdelmalek, emphasising the need for verifying all such info and advice available online or in media.  

Dr Abdel Nasser bin Salem, Adviser at the UAE Ministry of Health, stressed that the UAE has a zero tolerance policy against unauthorised medical practice by self-styled ‘experts’.  Those who are still dispensing with medical advice and treatment are violating the UAE laws, he warned.  He called for a regulatory mechanism to deal with unauthorised sources of medical advice, information and advertisements offering quick, magical solutions.  The Ministry should review all such content, he added.    

He called for greater popular awareness about health and said the medical fraternity and media could play a crucial role in promoting the right understanding of all issues involved, especially in children from an early age as children are like blank pages and can be easily prepared for challenges ahead.

Dr Salem said that modern lifestyle is a major source of a number of diseases and health problems and the UAE Health Ministry has been taking effective steps to check diseases associated with lifestyle. 

Dr Muawia Al Elaiwi, eminent paediatrician based in Saudi Arabia, pointed out that although medical misconceptions and rumours are today largely spread thanks to the Internet, they are hardly a new phenomenon.  They go back hundreds of years and even Ibn Khaldun, the legendary Muslim philosopher, social scientist and historian, talks about the problem. 

Dr Al Elaiwi said that many of misconceptions about health have their roots in ancient civilisations such as India and China.  He attributed the problem to an absence of public awareness about health and called for effective steps to promote health awareness.  “Health awareness is the firsts line of defence against disease,” he asserted.

Towards the end of the session, Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi honoured the speakers and sponsor of the session Dr Nutrition, together with supporting partners of the Ramadan Majlis, namely Sharjah Broadcasting Authority, Sharjah Heritage Institute and Juma Al Majid Centre for Culture and Heritage.

The Sharjah Ramadan Majlis has established itself as one of the most popular and respected international platforms and events in the region. Over the past seven years, the Ramadan Majlis sessions have been attended by leading thinkers, government officials, ministers, intellectuals and influencers from across the region and have helped tackle a gamut of issues, social trends and challenges facing society in the UAE and the Arab world.

The Sharjah Ramadan Majlis for the first time also included a special exhibition on the historic journey of the media in the Arab world in partnership with the Juma Al Majid Centre for Culture and Heritage, Dubai.   

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