Leading international architecture and design firm, H+A, has been appointed by Proton Partners International Healthcare Investments to design a US$60 million proton beam therapy cancer treatment centre in Abu Dhabi, which will be the first in the region.
The treatment centre, which will be known as the Abu Dhabi Proton Centre (ADPC), will be part of the existing Gulf International Cancer Centre (GICC) in Abu Dhabi and will be situated on a site provided by SBK Holding LLC, the Holding Company of His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan Bin Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, advisor to the President of the UAE.
H+A has been tasked with designing the centre to house the compact Proton Therapy (PT) solution and other facilities including a café, anaesthetic rooms, treatment rooms, zen gardens to aid recovery of cancer patients, dosimetry facility; a conference facility which seats 200 for regular meetings, offices for consulting specialists, interior design, landscaping and additional parking. It will also include the introduction of a new MRI suite and linear accelerator (LINAC) as an extension of the GICC. The centre is expected to l be able to treat over 1,300 patients annually, opening in 2019.
Stas Louca, H+A’s Managing Director, said: “This was a very complicated project dealing with such advanced equipment. We had to work with a number of design specialists for the radiation screening bunker to protect staff and patients. The radiation shielding blocks will be imported from the U.S by Veritas and the equipment is provided by IBA from Belgium. The technology for the shieilding blocks in a unique innovation and a first for the region.
“We’ve also created a patient experience with a high-end hospitality feel. We looked at everything from materials and colours to lighting, all of which affect healing time. This is truly a contemporary and modern piece of architecture. We used glass for better light and views and the quality of materials are low maintenance, sustainable and high performing to surpass insulation criteria. It was an exceptionally fast design, using BIM. We used an integration of software tools, including augmented reality, to meet project timelines. The most exciting part for us was not many healthcare architects have ever designed a proton beam facility, and to be the very first in the region has been a privilege.”
Dr Abdel Razak, one of the world’s leading oncologists, practises at the centre, making it one of the most sought-after destinations in the world for cancer treatment. He explains Proton Beam Therapy is considered the most advanced and targeted cancer radiotherapy treatment by limiting the collateral damage of radiation to other vital organs in the body. It is also widely considered to have a lower risk of side effects.
Louca continued: “We are delighted to have our expertise in the healthcare sector recognised with our appointment to design the first ever treatment centre with this technology in the region. It is wonderful to be a part of such an important phase in the UAE’s plans to revolutionise cancer treatment, aiming to provide world-class medical treatment for all cancer patients, making this country a prime destination for medical tourists.”
A 2016 healthcare study by Deloitte shows that a large number of GCC nationals are opting to travel abroad for medical treatment. Kuwaiti nationals are the most likely with 65 per cent saying they prefer treatment outside Kuwait, while Saudis are the least likely with 35 per cent reporting they travel abroad for healthcare, while 39 per cent of UAE nationals claim they would fly for treatment. Outbound medical care is becoming an increasing burden to Gulf governments with the UAE alone spending US$2bn annually to send its residents abroad for treatment, the survey also noted.
Mike Moran, chief executive officer of Proton Partners International, said about the project: “The introduction of proton beam therapy marks an important phase in our plans to revolutionise cancer treatment in the UAE and with works officially started, our vision will soon be a reality.
“Currently, there are no centres which offer proton beam therapy in the Middle East, so we are proud that Proton Partners will be part of the team to be bringing it to the UAE.”
While cancer is the third leading cause of death in the UAE behind cardiovascular disease and accidents, approximately 4,500 new cases are reported each year and the UAE government has vowed to lower the number of fatalities from cancer by 2021 with programs encouraging regular screenings and the building of more modern facilities like the GICC.