Posted on October 08, 2016

Medical science and health research are vital to curing diseases, improving public healthcare, and extending the human lifespan. As a dynamic and versatile discipline that is constantly growing and reacting to new research, the field of medical science can only progress with a free exchange of health information worldwide.

While a good medical journal publishes the latest in medical research, trends and breakthroughs, many journals are not openly available to practitioners, researchers and the general public. Therefore, global and free access to medical journals becomes integral not only to developments in the field but also to public health education. In this way, online journals serve the field immensely both by creating a space for global discourse to clinicians, medical scientists and healthcare workers and also by communicating the latest in medical research to the general public. As part of Hamad Bin Khalifa University Press (HBKU Press), QScience.com, a collaborative, peer-reviewed online publishing platform, provides open access to the latest and most pertinent developments in various fields. Based on a cooperation with Hamad Medical Corporation, QScience has been publishing, since 1997, Qatar Medical Journal (QMJ), a journal delivering high quality, cutting-edge and free-to-read research and content.

“We are very proud of the longstanding partnership with Qatar Medical Journal, and the impeccable medical research it publishes,” says Saffiyah Al-Nuaimi, Managing Editor of Qatar Medical Journal. “The Journal itself publishes high quality papers, which highlights many important medical issues. The Journal, being open access and free to read, goes a long way towards informing the general public about pertinent medical trends, issues and discoveries. We are excited to continue working with Hamad Medical Corporation and supporting their knowledge sharing initiatives, including Qatar Medical Journal.” In the most recent issue, QMJ published the latest research covering a variety of issues pertinent for public health not only in Qatar and the region, but globally as well.

In an article titled “A retrospective epidemiological study of salmonellosis”, the authors discovered that salmonellosis posed a serious public health problem in Qatar. A food and water-borne pathogen, salmonellosis is spread easily amongst a population by ingesting food contaminated by the pathogen, which is often found in fresh vegetables in the late spring months. Findings of the study, which covered diagnosed cases of salmonellosis in Qatar between 2004 and 2012, show that the number of cases is high among females younger than two years old and males younger than three years old. Furthermore, one fourth of the patients are Qatari as compared to other nationalities. Due to the high incidence of these pathogens infecting those living in Qatar, the researchers conclude that special intervention and health awareness programs are required for early screening, detection and treatment, and that the surveillance system needs to be strengthened.

According to the World Health Organization, data published in May 2014 on Qatar showed that deaths due to cardiovascular diseases reached 24 percent of total deaths. With this in mind, it is important to highlight a letter to the editor in QMJ, titled, “Prediction of cardiovascular disease from the early stages of life: A forgotten issue?” In this letter, the author stresses the importance of developing a model that can predict cardiovascular disease (CVD) from childhood and adolescence, as opposed to the majority of risk prediction models that identify risk factors in adults. The author of the letter, who works at The Cuban Hospital of Dukhan, part of Hamad Medical Corporation, published a scientific paper on cardiac risk factors in Cuban adolescents in which he discovered two risk factors that are present in childhood and adolescence. Thus, he argues, medical practitioners must go to the root of the problem in order to assess the likelihood of hypertension in adulthood. The author concludes by suggesting that such a shift in approach could then be applied to other conditions such as diabetes and obesity.

Another highly seminal research article published in QMJ, titled “Predictors of delayed pre-hospital presentation among patients with ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction”, examines the social factors associated with the delayed presentation of ST elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI), or what is commonly referred to as a heart attack. Noting that the social factors affecting early versus late treatment have not been previously studied, particularly in the Middle East, the researchers set about to determine what these social factors are. Their findings indicate that delayed presentation, or seeking medical attention after the onset of symptoms, occurs in patients with a higher prevalence of coronary risk factors and with less information about STEMI. In conclusion, the authors recommend programs designed to educate patients as well as the general public about the symptoms of STEMI and the necessary action to be taken if a heart attack is suspected. 

While the Qatar Medical Journal comes out bi-yearly, journal issues dating back to 1997 are available to read online at qscience.com. In addition to the articles previously mentioned, readers can peruse over 30 issues with hundreds of articles covering a variety of medical and healthcare issues. By providing open access to medical and health education, the QScience.com platform drives research further and helps to improve medical practice in Qatar and beyond.

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