Trauma Centre at Dubai’s Rashid Hospital. The construction taking place will not interfere with the working of the centre. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News Archive

Dubai: From the opening of a children’s super-speciality hospital to the expansion of a trauma care centre at Rashid Hospital and augmentation of primary health care centres, geriatric centres and many more programmes on the anvil, the Dubai health sector roadmap for 2015 is on track, said the Dubai Health Authority chief.

Speaking to Gulf News, Eisa Al Maidour, Director-General of DHA, revealed a number of projects the authority has planned for this year. “One of the most important goals DHA is looking forward to fulfil is health security of the society.” In 2015, he added, the DHA will continue to see the roll out of the mandatory health insurance scheme and anticipates that the complete roll-out will be earlier than mid-2016. “This will benefit everyone living in Dubai and is most certainly a milestone for the health sector. Of course there will be challenges on the way but I can also see the opportunities,” he said.

Smart technology adapted for better health care

Smart clinics and smart technology have been given top priority by Al Maidour in the health strategies for 2015, not just for running hospitals and maintaining hospital files but to enhance patient experience as well.

Citing successful initiatives, he said: “In 2014 DHA implemented smart physiotherapy so that patients could exercise in the comfort of their homes without the need to visit a physiotherapist on a daily basis. During Gitex 2014, we presented smart screens for every hospital bed that will provide patients with edutainment, entertainment and other facilities such as ordering their meal, calling for laundry services, turning out the lights of their rooms from their hospital beds.”

The DHA also introduced smart apps so that people could book, cancel, reschedule appointments or have a look at test results as and when they like. “Making information accessible at one’s fingertips is important to help enhance patient convenience,” said Al Maidour who plans to continue rolling out these programmes in 2015.

Caring for the elderly

As per 2010 statistics, 5.2 per cent of the local population is above 60 years of age in the UAE. In the 1960s, life expectancy was 53 years. Today, the average life expectancy for the elderly in Dubai is 78 years for females and 75 for males. This is higher compared with some other Middle Eastern countries. Therefore, the emphasis has to be on healthy ageing, pointed out Al Maidour.

“2015 will also be the year when we will significantly enhance care for the elderly. The DHA’s primary health-care centres have several specialised clinics for the elderly, including geriatric clinics that include memory and dementia clinic, osteoporosis, rehabilitation and fall clinic, to help elderly patients get specialised care and also have home-care services for geriatric patients who are unable to visit clinics. So far, 300 patients are registered for the DHA’s home-care programme. It is our plan to ensure we have a dedicated geriatric clinic across every primary health centre, including the new ones we build,” he said.


Two new projects opening in 2015

Two years ago the DHA announced several projects as part of its Dubai Health Strategy 2013-2025, a section of which is nearing completion in 2015.

Al Maidour talks of the two most important of these — the Al Jalila Children’s Speciality Hospital and the Trauma Care Centre at Rashid Hospital.

“Developing projects keeping in mind geographical expansion, population growth and access to care is a well thought out plan which we paid attention to while developing our health strategy in 2013 and now we are moving forward in that direction,” he said.

Al Jalila Children’s Super Speciality Hospital

This 200-bed, 98,000 sq metre Al Jalila Children’s Speciality Hospital to be housed at the Latifa Hospital and the first of its kind is all set to open in the first half of 2015

Al Maidour said that the hospital would apply several innovative concepts to integrate design and construction aspects with the healing process. “It will offer the full spectrum of care for children — from newborns to 16-year-olds — and will have several centres of excellence dedicated to cancer care, cardiology, neurology and mental health, among other specialities. The hospital will feature high-end medical equipment and will be led by a team of highly qualified and experienced professionals. The construction of this hospital is almost complete. We are also in the stage where we are commissioning equipment and are chalking out the operational strategy.”

Expansion of Rashid Hospital’s Trauma and Emergency Centre to open to the public by May 2015

An addiitonal 160 beds are being added at a cost of Dh161 million. “The construction is taking place using the pre-engineering concept so that the Trauma Centre can carry on serving the needs of patients without any interruption. The pre-engineering concept allows the centre to function as usual while the expansion work is ongoing. The walls have been manufactured in advance and are being installed directly on site,” said Al Maidour.

Expansion of Primary Health Care Centres (PHC)

Four additional Primary health Centres are to be opned in 2015. “Expansion of primary health-care centres is essential as we consider it to be frontline care. By 2025, Dubai will have 40 primary health-care centres. “

Al Maidour also announced the expansion of medical fitness centres. “At present, the DHA has 16 medical fitness centres. By early 2015, we will establish one occupational screening centre in Uptown Mirdiff, Jumeirah Lakes towers, Hatta. Occupational screening is meant for people who wish to get a certification according to the requirement of their profession such as as RTA drivers, Civil Defence drivers, food handlers and so on,“ he explained. In addition, DHA also plans to open a fourth centre — a dedicated VIP medical fitness centre at the Business Village in Deira.

Expansion of Latifa Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

The Neonatal Intensive ward at Latifa Hospital will be expanded this year at a cost of over Dh24 million and MAF Charity Foundation has sponsored the cost, Al Maidour said. “The move will help provide an additional 18 NICU beds for preterm babies. The expansion is complete and we will open the new NICU unit in 2015,” he added.

Preventive health care a top priority

Besides all these expansions and augmentation of the existing health-care infrastructure, Al Maidour feels the bigger challenge for this sector today is changing the mind set of people and getting them to lead healthier lifestyles. From provision of preventive screening packages at discounted rates to awareness campaign across schools, colleges as well as the public and private sector, DHA has been going the extra mile in reinforcing the importance of healthy living because it believes that the crux of the problem today is lifestyle diseases or non-communicable diseases which can be prevented/managed by leading a healthy lifestyle. “In 2014, we conducted over 400 workshops and lectures on nutrition and plan to continue our awareness programmes in 2015. Today we have cycling tracks, parks, walking tracks, etc. that provide people with ample opportunities to exercise.

DHA is keen to encourage the private sector, schools and universities to join them in this initiative to raise awareness about healthy living and make indviduals responsible for their health. “My message to the community is not to depend on other people to take care of you. Eat healthy, work out and be a productive member of society,” said Al Maidour.