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A COVID-19 screening centre in Abu Dhabi Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Abu Dhabi’s mass testing strategy has been effective in helping to contain the spread of COVID-19 in the emirate, according to a new study conducted by health authorities.

The study, conducted by public health regulator – the Abu Dhabi Public Health Centre (ADPHC), public health provider – the Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (Seha), and UAE University, aimed to evaluate the testing programme and its impact on reducing the spread of the pandemic. It found that the testing strategy led to enhancements to the emirate’s healthcare system, and contributed to the UAE having one of the highest COVID-19 testing rates in the world.

“The adoption of technologies helped the country rapidly upgrade its testing capabilities and diagnostic methods. Some of the key success drivers of the UAE’s response to the pandemic include improving monitoring and early detection by expanding the number of surveillance team field medical teams, investing in laboratory capabilities to accelerate testing by adopting high quality labs, and establishing drive-through centers across the country,” said Dr Farida Al Hosani, the UAE’s official spokesperson for the health sector, and executive director of infectious diseases sector at the ADPHC.

According to Dr. Eric Koornneeff, from the UAE University, who led the research, “the study sought to share the UAE’s experience with the whole world to benefit from it”.

“The open testing strategy impacted both the population health and the health systems capacity,” added Dr. Marilia Silva Paulo, also from the UAE University.

This particular study is part of many other research projects carried out by ADPHC under the umbrella of its COVID-19 Research Committee, which is headed by Dr Al Hosani. The committee, which was formed upon the direction of the chairman of the Health Department at the beginning of 2021, asserted the vision of the wise leadership, and highlights that scientific research allows countries to deal with the pandemic in an effective way.

Other findings from the study show that mass testing the in the UAE was useful in reducing the COVID-19 toll, despite the difficulty of analysing the impact of all measures set by the World Health Organization for governments to reduce the impact of epidemics. Similar procedures could not be applied by most countries due to the increased burden on their health systems, but the UAE was able to provide residents with access to high quality and affordable health services and tests.