Dubai 4 Novamber 2023: The 3rd annual conference organized by the Emirates Society of Clinical Microbiology brought together a diverse group of participants at Mohammed bin Rashid University for Medicine and Health Sciences (MBRU) in Dubai.
The three-day event, held under the patronage of the Emirates Medical Association, featured prominent speakers and experts in the field.
Dr. Jens Thomsen, Chair of the conference organizing committee and President of the Emirates Society of Clinical Microbiology (ESCM), commenced the conference on Saturday with an inspiring address.
He later presented an in-depth discussion on the patterns and trends of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) surveillance in the UAE.
Dr. Thomsen emphasized the critical role of AMR surveillance in guiding clinical decision-making, tracking resistance trends in infections, and providing essential epidemiological data to understand the impact of AMR on public health and the effectiveness of control measures within healthcare facilities and the community.
“AMR surveillance and Antibiotic Stewardship Programs (ASP) are essential tools and interventions for slowing the emergence and spread of drug-resistant microorganisms in humans, animals, plants, and the environment. Currently, 45 clinical microbiology laboratories and 341 surveillance sites such as hospitals, centres and clinics participate in the UAE’s national AMR surveillance,” said Dr Thomsen.
Analyzing the data, Dr. Thomsen observed an overall long-term increase in antibiotic resistance levels in the UAE over the last 13 years but clarified that for some clinically relevant bug-drug combinations it has stabilized or even decreased in more recent years.
He indicated that stability could be a result of the growing awareness among healthcare professionals and governments in the country, and improved antibiotic stewardship programs, and other factors.
Furthermore, he highlighted the emerging trend of Candida auris, a highly problematic pathogen since 2018, which has been challenging to identify with standard laboratory methods.
“There is an emerging trend of Candida auris which has been observed since 2018 as it emerged in many places in the world, and we found it in the region and UAE. It can persist on surfaces for extended periods and is often resistant to Fluconazole, which limits therapeutic options. Furthermore, it is resistant to quaternary ammonium compounds used in hospital disinfectants,” he added.
In addition to the conference, a pre-conference workshop on generating a Cumulative Antibiogram and data analysis took place on the preceding Friday.
Dr. Thomsen stressed the importance of data analysis, which aids physicians in selecting the right antibiotics from the outset, leading to faster patient recovery and reduced mortality rates, particularly for life-threatening infections.
“If the physicians give the right antibiotic from the beginning, patients will benefit much faster and better. It helps to reduce time of treatment.”
The 3rd annual conference, organized in collaboration with the American Society for Microbiology, drew over 437 participants, including 27 national and 10 international speakers, delegats, experts, scientists, physicians, microbiology professionals, students, and industry specialists. The conference provided a platform for sharing the latest research, findings, experiences, and guidelines in the field of clinical microbiology.
The conference’s agenda encompassed 36 lectures covering an array of emerging topics and addressing the industry’s latest developments and challenges.
Notable attendees included Dr. Mouza Al Sharhan, head of Pathology at Dubai Hospital – Dubai Health Authority, and President of the Emirates Medical Association in the UAE, along with Dr. Laila Al Suwaidi, Dean of Student Affairs and an associate professor in Molecular Hematology at the College of Medicine in MBRU.
The first day of the conference covered subjects such as antimicrobial stewardship, ventilator-associated pneumonia, climate change and environmental antimicrobial resistance (AMR), and a competition for the best abstract.
The sessions delved into topics like antibacterial stewardship, the role of microbiology in achieving UN sustainable development goals, climate change’s impact on AMR, and the global studies exploring the connection between air pollution and COVID-19.
Dr. Arun Kumar, Chairperson of the Cultural and Social Committee of ESCM, expressed his excitement about the conference’s diverse content and its potential to educate and engage participants in clinical microbiology.
“We were thrilled to welcome many delegates to our conference today. The three-day agenda has something for everyone and is sure to educate and enthuse participants into learning more about this clinical microbiology. I am looking forward to our debate sessions which cover different topics and are sure to spark fascinating debate,” Mr Kumar said.
The second day of the conference focused on healthcare-associated infections, mycobacteria, advances in diagnostics, antimicrobial resistance, respiratory pathogens, human microbiome, and mycology.
Emirates Society of Clinical Microbiology is the sole professional society that serves the clinical microbiology field in the UAE.
ESCM is part of Emirates Medical Association, founded in 2018 to meet the needs for clinical microbiologists in the UAE and to be the leaders of the field in the UAE and the region.
ESCM’s mission is to set highest standards of clinical microbiology practice and to respond to the local needs as well as to encourage interaction and collaboration among clinical microbiologists and raise public awareness about clinical microbiology field in the UAE