Jul. 13, 2021


Barbro Fridén

Qatar

Barbro Fridén

CEO, Sidra Medicine

Sidra Medicine's powerful genetic research program is set to significantly contribute to improving preventive care and precision medicine in the country.

BIO

Barbro Fridén is the CEO of Sidra Medicine, a women's and children's specialist hospital based in Qatar. She has extensive experience in both the public and private healthcare sectors in Sweden and the Middle East. Prior to joining Sidra Medicine, Fridén was the CEO of Sheikh Khalifa Medical City in Ajman and, before that, the CEO of Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Scandinavia's largest teaching hospital. She was previously the hospital director of the Children's Hospital at Karolinska University Hospital in Sweden. She is well recognized, having won Leader of the Year in Sweden in 2015 as well as Influencer of the Year in 2014, a life sciences business national award. She sits on the board on a variety of government and commercial boards related to healthcare. She received her medical degree from Umeå University in Sweden and was also a visiting research fellow in reproductive medicine at the University of California. She holds a PhD in medicine from Gothenburg University


What are your expectations and motivations as the new CEO of Sidra Medicine?

My main motivation is the vision of the chairperson Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser for Sidra Medicine, which she has passionately supported to improve the health and quality of life of women and children in Qatar and elsewhere. I am also motivated by Sidra Medicine's strong genetic research program, which is based on precision medicine. I have worked in fairly high-intensity hospitals before, but this is the first place where if our clinicians propose that genes could be the reason for a malformation or disease, they can bring their hypotheses to our researchers who will research the genes. The researchers then come back with the required knowledge, and we can design a specific medical treatment for that specific genetic change. This is unique. I do not know of many hospitals in the world that can do that in-house, and it is exciting to say the least. It will bring us to the forefront of helping treat and care for children not only in Qatar but also the wider MENA region.

How does Sidra Medicine fit into the strategy of Qatar for preventative healthcare and improving the tertiary system?

There many examples of how Sidra Medicine is contributing to this end, as we are a key partner of the Qatar Genome Program and right now we have 25,000-30,000 Qatari full genomes in our data bank, which is a wealth of information to study and research. This will ultimately improve the lives of children with different genetic diseases and their transition to adulthood. Because of our precision medicine program, our approach to care starts early and can contribute to the population's health and preventive care. One prominent aspect is how we approach diseases such as diabetes, which is prevalent in Qatar and the Gulf. Diabetes can affect anyone, though there is also the added risk for children who may develop the disease due to genetic reasons. Sidra Medicine seeks to take a preventative approach to this in many of its pediatric patients before they actually become diabetic by improving lifestyle issues early on so that they can counteract the negative balance of genetic backgrounds. We also work closely with the families in this journey of care. In addition, Sidra Medicine is the main specialist hospital for children in Qatar and provides advanced tertiary care services. This covers a broad spectrum from NICU, plastics and craniofacial, neurosurgery, epilepsy, nephrology, oncology and much more. Our surgeons, nurses and allied health teams are highly qualified and take a multidisciplinary approach to care for our patients and their families. For example, our epilepsy treatment program, is advanced and of one of the leading in the Middle East, as is our Heart Center. Because of our ground-breaking and pioneering work, we have made it possible for many children to lead normal lives instead of being set back by their disease or mobility challenges.

How is the hospital raising awareness of a healthier lifestyle?

When it comes to women, Sidra Medicine is still at an early stage regarding holistic women's healthcare, which is a central part of Her Highness's vision. I am a gynecologist by training, so I have been working with women all my life; however, our work is not limited to obstetrics and gynecology. Sidra offers high quality maternity care including advanced neonatal care, if so needed. We are now in a planning mode to not only look at pregnancy, but many areas of women's health throughout life, for example osteoporosis, which is prevalent here, and other painful skeletal changes during the later years in life. Other prevalent health issue are hormonal changes, both during adolescence and menopause, but also metabolic disease and malfunctioning thyroid. This holistic, one-stop approach can change not only the health, well-being, and living conditions of women but also their entire family and children, who will bring that into the next generation.

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