Visitors look at the Powered Ambulance Cot, displayed at the Styker stall, on the closing day of the Abu Dhabi Medical Congress on Tuesday. Image Credit: Abdul Rahman/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Disease management in the Northern Emirates will become easier and more effective when a new telenursing system is introduced across public healthcare facilities within the next two years, a senior health official said in the capital on Tuesday.

The distance-based system of nursing, entitled Al Warid, will be introduced by the Ministry of Health (MoH), and will allow patients to contact nurses and other medical professionals from home with their queries, Shaikha Ebrahim Al Ali, Umm Al Quwain district director of nursing at the Ministry of Health, told Gulf News.

"In addition, nurses will be able to easily monitor from a distance how well patients are taking care of themselves, as well as transmit audio and video to educate patients. This is especially a concern for people with chronic diseases who take a variety of drugs, and may therefore get confused about the proper dosage," Shaikha Ebrahim said.

She was speaking on the sidelines of the fifth Abu Dhabi Medical Congress, which concluded in the capital yesterday. The three-day congress saw nearly 5,000 medical professionals from across the region discuss a host of medical advances and challenges.

Experts at the congress said there was a distinct shortage in the number of nursing professionals across the world, in both developing and developed nations. A 2006 study by the World Health Organisation in fact reported a global shortage of 4.3 million nurses, physicians and healthcare professionals.

Keeping tab

Shaikha Ebrahim explained that the telenursing system would reduce the burden on nurses by allowing them to focus on the patients most in need, in addition to helping them keep tabs on others.

"Patients with chronic diseases also often have queries but find it difficult to make frequent trips to a hospital, especially if they are elderly. The system will ensure that they check with a doctor or nurse instead of getting the dosage or treatment wrong," Shaikha Ebrahim said.

When implemented, the Dh300 million system will allow for a complete patient history and record of prescriptions to be maintained online. It can then be accessed by medical professionals at all public healthcare facilities and hospitals.

Accurate records

"Since all records will be computerised and stored securely, the system will also ensure that medical staff maintain accurate records," she said.

According to the official, 70 per cent of the infrastructure and training required to implement the system has already been completed.

"At present, we are continuing to train nurses, laboratory technicians, physiotherapists and other medical staff in preparation for the system," she said.

Emirati nurses: call for change

Healthcare experts in the capital yesterday called for the development of more nursing mentorship programmes to increase the number of Emirati nurses in the country.

According to 2010 statistics from the Ministry of Health, only 3.7 per cent of all registered nurses in the country are Emirati.

Improving nurses' pay, as well as the image of the profession in the country is essential to increasing the number of Emirati nurses, said Amal Rawhi Al Abed, charge nurse for nursing education at Rashid Hospital in Dubai, said.