Dubai: Harvard Medical School (HMS) and Dubai Healthcare City Authority (DHCC) have jointly announced the opening of the Harvard Medical School Centre for Global Health Delivery, the world’s first centre of its kind to be based at the Mohammad Bin Rashid Academic Medical Centre at DHCC.

The new centre will allow HMS, working with researchers and care providers from the health authorities in the UAE, to stimulate research and education focused on improving the delivery of high-quality health care. Using innovative and multidisciplinary approaches, the centre will study ways to improve outcomes for patients undergoing surgery and for patients receiving care for diabetes and obesity, infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and hepatitis C, and mental health disorders.

With an undisclosed amount of funding for the centre to be provided by the Dubai Harvard Foundation for Medical Research for the next four years, this centre aims to turn Dubai into a global hub for scientific and policy discussions related to health-care delivery.

Addressing the meeting, Salmaan Keshavjee, Associate Professor of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School and director of the Programme in Infectious Disease and Social Change in the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine, said: “Like the concept of the last mile in health care we intend to deliver the last millimetre, expediting the path from the laboratory to the clinic to the patients in the communities where they live.”

Keshavjee pointed out that it was a cause for concern that nearly 25 per cent of the UAE population suffered from diabetes as compared to the five per cent figure worldwide and nearly 50-80 per cent of patients failed to take medicines, leading to health complications. “The demand for diabetes care is set to rise by 323 per cent in the next 20 years in the GCC region. Besides this, in the field of tuberculosis that affects 1.5 million people worldwide, three million go undiagnosed and about 570,000 develop drug-resistant strains threatening the health of the global population,” he added.

Eventually the centre will establish academic best practices for research into tuberculosis and hepatitis C and mental illnesses and other areas that would help scholars to come together and share a platform that would not just benefit the GCC and Mena region but create an international pool of academic research, said Professor Sehamuddin Galadari, DHCC board member and academic research adviser of Al Jalila Foundation.

Marwan Abedin CEO of DHCC said the outcomes of the research would have an impact over policy decisions in the health care field.

Raja Al Gurg, Vice Chairperson of DHCC, said that the centre would share a synergy in the research field with the Al Jalila Foundation and expressed hope that the work at the centre would go on to support long-term commitment of the government towards improving the health of all communities and help advance health-care research and delivery. “Establishing the centre will foster excellence among students, scientists and health-care providers for the ultimate benefit of Dubai and those beyond our region,” she said.