UMM aL QAIWAIN // The extended closure of the emirate's only maternity ward has dismayed residents and is forcing some expectant mothers to attend maternity clinics in other emirates. The specialist wing of the Umm al Qaiwain Hospital was closed for maintenance work at the start of October. A notice posted on the doors stated that it would reopen within a month, but more than three months on, the work is still not complete.
Mothers-to-be and their families have said a temporary maternity unit set up at the hospital is too small and is poorly equipped, leaving them with little choice but to go elsewhere for pregnancy check-ups and to give birth. Abdullah Saif Abdullah, 40, an Emirati who is an administrator with Ajman University, said he felt he had to transfer his pregnant wife's medical files to Kuwait Hospital in Sharjah.
He said the makeshift facility at UAQ Hospital was unable to cope with multiple deliveries. "We still don't understand the causes of the delays," he said. "It's now more than two months and the hospital administration cannot explain it to us." Ibrahim al Awadh, 35, an Emirati businessman, said his wife had been admitted to the children's wards at UAQ Hospital when she was about to give birth to their third girl in December because there was no space in the temporary maternity clinic.
"She delivered well but I wonder if the authorities ever get concerned about pregnant women passing on some diseases to the children or the other way round," he said. Ahmed Obaid, also 35 and an Emirati businessman, said maintenance companies should be more closely monitored to ensure they meet their deadlines, especially in cases involving health facilities. UAQ Hospital serves the whole emirate and the surrounding area.
Rashid Obaid al Shehi, the deputy chief of Umm al Qaiwain Health Zone, said the hospital was undergoing several maintenance operations and urged residents to be patient. "We have provided an alternative room and equipped it with the latest technology," he said. "Since the closure of the main department we have administered 168 births, among which 37 were Caesarean." He said the hospital's management had always been keen to avoid any delay and that the maintenance work was needed to comply with Ministry of Health standards. The Ministry of Public Works is also monitoring the work.