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‘Don’t crowd hospitals, visit primary healthcare centres’

Top official says it helps reduce costs and waiting time, besides ensuring holistic treatment and preventive care

Image Credit: GN Archives
Expert speak: Dr Ahmad Kalban, CEO of Primary Healthcare at DHA GN Archives

Dubai A top official of the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) has called upon the public to visit primary healthcare centres (PHCs), not hospitals, as their first point of call for health services.

Dr Ahmad Kalban, CEO of Primary Healthcare at DHA, told XPRESS that PHCs not only help reduce costs but also waiting time for patients and can provide holistic treatment with an emphasis on prevention.

The PHCs also use the same electronic system for record keeping as hospitals, ensuring the continuity of care for patients whether they are seen at a PHC or a hospital.

He said: “Primary healthcare is the gatekeeper of the healthcare system. Around 90 per cent of health problems that residents face are managed by family physicians at these centres. Family physicians focus on the total health of the person rather than on a single organ or system in the body. They also emphasise prevention and screening of health problems.”

He said a consultation with a general physician at a PHC costs Dh150 while a specialist consultation goes up to Dh250.

Residents can choose from 14 health centres that DHA has opened across Dubai.

“Distributed for every 30,000 individuals, these health centres provide services including outpatient family treatment, child health, antenatal care, dental work, some specialist clinics like ENT, ophthalmology and dermatology, in addition to supportive services such as pharmacy, X-ray and laboratory services,” said Kalban.

Only when a health problem cannot be managed by the healthcare centre or when the required service is not present at the PHC should a patient resort to specialist care at a hospital, he added.

To encourage people to visit PHCs, he said DHA has ensured that the medical staff undergo constant training and upgrading of their skills.

“Almost all physicians working in PHCs are specialised family physicians who are either Arab board or MRCGP certified. We have focused on needs with a minimal waiting time,” he said, adding that the physical surroundings of the clinics have been designed to make patients comfortable. He said the Al Barsha Health Centre has been completed and operations will begin shortly.

“Two new projects are being planned in Al Warqa and Nad Al Sheeba.”