Rashid Hospital
Rashid Hospital in Dubai is among the recipients of a prestigious global award for its response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Image Credit: Courtesy: Twitter/Dubai Media Office

Dubai: Dubai Health Authority (DHA) has once again been recognised among 100 hospitals from 28 countries worldwide for their response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The International Hospital Federation accorded this honour to DHA in the category ‘Beyond the Call of Duty for COVID-19 Programme’ for its response to the pandemic. Additionally, DHA’s hospitals — Rashid Hospital and Latifa Hospital for Women and Children — were recognised for their outstanding action plan to counter COVID-19, along with private hospitals Al Zahra, Aster Hospitals and Pharmacies, Medcare, Medcare Women and Children’s Hospital who also earned the recognition from IHF.

DHA received the recognition badge after a thorough review by an international review committee consisting of 16 experts from the health-care industry. The initiative was sponsored by the Japanese Red Cross Ashikaga Hospital — Nikken Group, and the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA).

Rapid COVID-19 response appreciated

The DHA’s Dubai Shield Programme was recognised for its innovative actions in countering the COVID-19 pandemic. DHA’s Dubai Shield Programme was implemented as early as January 2020 to swing into action to increase capacity, minimise the community spread of COVID-19, maximise testing capacity, chalk out a comprehensive plan and procure timely medicines and all necessary medical equipment and strategise in terms of isolation facilities and procedures.

Dr Fatma Alsharaf, director of the Corporate Quality and Excellence Department at DHA, said that the organisation had laid the groundwork for an aggressive system to fight the virus as early as January 2020 and it formulated its pioneering Dubai Shield Programme (DSP).

Testing capacity and bed numbers augmented

Under the Dubai Shield Programme, DHA successfully increased the city’s testing capacity to 80,000 tests per day. By using prefabricated modular materials, DHA was able to build new health-care facilities within just 60 days, whereas such projects would typically take seven months to complete. The DHA also collaborated with the private sector to increase the number of available isolation beds. Apart from building new facilities, the DHA also converted 89 hotels and non-medical buildings into quarantine and isolation facilities.

‘Doctor for every citizen’ initiative

The DHA also paid particular attention to ensure that critical care services were not interrupted. It helped hospitals shift smoothly to telemedicine where applicable, but essential services continued to be provided on-site.

A key enabler towards DHA’s continuity of care was the Doctor for Every Citizen (DFEC), which DHA had launched in December 2019. DFEC provides 24x7 medical consultancy services focusing mainly on patients at highest risks of exposure — including elderly persons and patients with low immunity and chronic diseases. DFEC benefited more than 60,000 patients.

Blood donation and communicable disease management

The DHA’s Blood Donation Centre was also successful in maintaining adequate blood supply, creating separate pathways for COVID-19 plasma donations and organising a new temporary location for COVID-free blood donation.

The Dubai Shield Programme also implemented a real-time communicable disease management system known as the Hasana Project. Hasana enables an emirate-wide network for reliable, accurate and real-time communicable disease oversight. It provides a unified system that connects public and private health-care facilities, allowing the authorities to better control and mitigate the spread of diseases.

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Preparation for future health emergencies

Dubai is now well-equipped to deal with the outbreak of other communicable diseases in the future. Through the Dubai Shield Programme, the city can easily provide long-term care for patients, as well as operate field hospitals and isolation centres even on a short notice. The Hasana project can also be used as a public health oversight programme for large-scale events, such as Expo 2020-2021, allowing Dubai to maintain its edge as a global leader in the events industry.

Rashid Hospital was the first hospital in the UAE and in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries to admit and manage COVID-19 patients. To deal with the influx of patients, the hospital immediately rolled out infection control measures and rapidly increased bed capacity.

Dr Fahad Baslaib, CEO of Rashid Hospital and Consultant Interventional Cardiologist said: “It is an honour for Rashid Hospital to be recognised by the International Hospital Federation for our response to COVID-19. Our dedicated team worked tirelessly to prepare for and respond to the impact of the pandemic.”