Abu Dhabi: Since its formation in 2007, the Health Authority Abu Dhabi (HAAD) has helped enroll 98 per cent of residents across Abu Dhabi in various health insurance policies, a senior health official .

According to Zaid Al Siksek, Chief Executive Officer at HAAD, the past health care model failed to effectively help service patients due to lack of data or missing information.

"Very few data was available when we first started, and if it was there it was weak or not valid. If you don't have the data on the health system it would be almost impossible to collect and understand information. Now we are able to validate the need for health insurance coverage and spend on certain areas more than others, and can identify where there's a need to develop curative and public programmes," said Al Siksek.

"Health insurance has helped in the way health care information is transferred and accessed, as well as created a form of affordability.

"We now know that our population is relatively young, with an average age of about 28 years, with 22 per cent of Emirati s diabetic [while] chronic diseases are staggering," he said.

Even though the HAAD official refused to specify the amount spent in the past three years to help improve health care across the emirate, he did admit that spending on health care has increased since the authority's creation.

Investment period

"There was a lot of health care expenditure the government had to take on, however spending is beginning to dip these days. We were going through an investment period focused on building a completely new health care system, with the vision of offering everyone full access to health care," said Al Siksek.

When asked how the authority has managed to introduce reforms this fast, Al Siksek said: "Through encouraging, enabling, and enforcing. As a health system regulator I start off by encouraging people to overcome the challenges they have. If they don't abide, we enable things ourselves, and finally governments need to enforce regulations, such as mandatory health insurance."

He added: "Through various partnerships we have managed to help transform some of our key public hospitals. However hospital's cannot be the jack of all trade, by doing everything and anything for a community of 2.2 million residents."

With up to 85 to 90 per cent of health care professionals being expatriates, Al Siksek spoke about the importance of offering physicians with incentives.

Health Authority Abu Dhabi Statistics for 2009:

  • 11 million health care encounters.
  • 500,000 of which are inpatient encounters.
  • 10.5 million are outpatient encounters.