Interview: Humaid Al Qatami
How does the recently launched Dubai Health Strategy 2021 integrate with the UAE Vision 2021?
HUMAID AL QATAMI: The new strategy was designed after extensive stakeholder engagement, including feedback and suggestions from 11,000 DHA staff members, the private sector, the public – through social media channels – and local government authorities. It was developed with a clear understanding of strengths, needs, state analysis and future opportunities. Some of its key features include a stronger focus on prevention of illness, healthy living, public health and safety, primary care, chronic disease management, private and public partnership and investment, medical tourism and the improvement of governance in the health sector. Another key area is a greater focus on primary and urgent health care so that emergency rooms in hospitals do not have to tackle non-emergency cases and can optimise their services to deal with actual emergencies. The updated strategy aligns with the Dubai Plan 2021, the UAE Vision 2021, key stakeholders and issues regarding the external environment.
Given the UAE’s growing shortage of doctors, what can be done to attract and retain sufficient talent, especially among Emirati nationals?
AL QATAMI: Dubai is an attractive place for medical professionals to live and work. In 2015, we received 16,000 applications for licences to work in Dubai from medical professionals across the globe.
We are very pleased to see this level of demand, which is due to a few factors: the booming health sector, the availability of high-quality health care facilities, appealing benefits packages and growth opportunities. In terms of nurturing and retaining Emirati talent in the health sector, the government is doing various things. Today, there are several colleges in the country where Emiratis can study medicine. Once they join the workforce, the DHA offers continuous opportunities for medical professionals to undertake specialisations and super-specialisations abroad. Having receieved this training, they can then return and serve their country.
What opportunities do you foresee for private sector investment in e-health initiatives?
AL QATAMI: E-Health is vital for the growth and development of the health sector. As we begin to implement more e-health-related services, I see a tremendous opportunity for investment in this field. There is a huge market available to electronic medical record vendors that supply to small and medium-sized clinics, polyclinics and pharmacies as we have more than 2000 such establishments. Universities and colleges also have the opportunity to provide training in coding and health informatics. Finally, I see a potential for smart application developers to create apps for specific audiences.
How has the mandatory health insurance scheme benefitted the sector in Dubai?
AL QATAMI: Dubai’s mandatory health insurance scheme has done much to transform health care in the emirate. It has led to a massive increase in coverage. Many people have also seen their level of coverage increase, as the minimum level of coverage set out in the law is higher than what many plans offered before. Beneficiaries now enjoy coverage for pre-existing and chronic conditions as well as inpatient treatment and maternity cover. The health insurance model provides us with data that filters through the country’s health insurance system and allows us to develop evidence-based public health policies. All health insurance transactions go through the system, which provides us with behavioural data that we can analyse to plan specific health policies that will directly improve the performance of the health sector, leading to better patient outcomes as a result.
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