The Department of Dermatology at Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) has launched several new therapies and sub-specialties, providing some of the best treatment options and treating over 70,000 patients a year in Doha, Al Wakrah, Al Khor and Cuban hospitals.
“Now we see 30% more patients than the last two years,” said Prof Martin Steinhoff, chairman of Dermatology and Venereology, HMC at a press conference on Tuesday. He was accompanied by Dr Sara Saleh al-Khawaga, dermatologist, HMC.
“We have started some of the latest therapies in several skin-related diseases. For some of the diseases, we have the first patients in the whole Middle East using medications which are recently approved in the US or in Europe,” disclosed Prof Steinhoff. “We also provide now several new therapies, for many of the significant and frequent diseases here in Qatar such as eczema, psoriasis and vitiligo. We have built several sub-specialty clinics for common diseases in Qatar including dermatology surgery.This has significantly improved the condition of patients,” he continued.
More than 60 patients receive a new biologic treatment for psoriasis which improves the situation significantly within a short time. They are treated at the psoriasis sub-specialty clinic at HMC. “We check three or four biologic medications to identify which one suits specific patients. This can control the diseases in a big way. We provide injection every four weeks. Even if the disease recurs, it will be at a very low level. Earlier with the medications, the condition would not improve much and there were side effects as well,” explained Prof Steinhoff.
Biologic drugs are different from traditional systemic ones and target specific parts of the immune system. The protein-based biologic drugs are derived from living cells cultured in a laboratory. He also noted that about 4,000 patients are treated for eczema yearly. “We see more prevalence of the disease -- between 10 and 20% -- in children. In adults, it is about 5 to 10%. We have new biologic -- a targeted therapy for this disease which we have started this month. We are the first in the Middle East to use the new approved medication,” he noted.
The referral system to the Department of Dermatology has also changed so it is easier now for health centres and private hospitals to refer patients. “Waiting time has come down to four weeks. We have a triage system and we see some cases on the same day, or within three days or seven days or a regular appointment depending on the severity of the cases,” he added.