Top officials at the first-ever Emirates Military Health Conference in Abu Dhabi. Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: The UAE is to set to get a dedicated tertiary hospital that will offer a full range of services and treatments for trauma patients.

Speaking on the sidelines of the first-ever Emirates Military Health Conference (EMHC), Colonel Saeed Al Hefeiti, EMHC spokesperson, told Gulf News that the facility will be a collaborative effort between the UAE’s health authorities and its military.

“Our aim is to built a state-of-the-art trauma centre in the UAE, to be integrated with the health systems and our allies all over the world. The centre will [serve] the military, our allies, and civilians as well, and these kinds of trauma centres deal with thousands of injuries annually,” Col Al Hefeiti said.

Officials did not reveal when the hospital will be launched but said they expect it to be operational in the next two to five years.

Fostering collaboration

Under the patronage of Mohammed bin Ahmed Al Bowardi, UAE Minister of State for Defence Affairs, EMHC is being hosted by the UAE Ministry of Defence in Abu Dhabi, in order to foster collaboration between military and civilian sector stakeholders.

Matter Salem Al Dhaheri, UAE Under Secretary of Defence, opened the conference in the company of Sheikh Dr Abdullah Meshal Al Sabah, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Defence Kuwait, and Abdulla Bin Mohammed Al Hamed, the Chairman of the Department of Health, Abu Dhabi. Present in the audience were official delegates from allied countries, as well as UAE MoD officers, and specialists from the military and civil medical fields.

“The [EMHC] is a unique proposition that is in line with the UAE’s vision of collaboration and cooperation with the international community. It draws expertise from across the globe to discuss and exchange knowledge on some of the most important military healthcare issues of our time,” said Mohammed Ahmed Al Bowardi, Minister of State for Defence Affairs.

“We live in uncertain times and the requirement to service the health needs of members of the Armed Forces and civilians in affected areas has never been greater. Thankfully, technological innovations are assisting in the effective provision of such services in order to save more lives, and EMHC is the perfect platform to learn about such advancements and more,” Al Bowardi said.

Ramping up trauma services

The two-day conference in the capital is seeing the attendance of hundreds of military officers, government officials and industry executives.

Another major initiative to boost the UAE’s trauma services involves plans to have the trauma centre at the Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City (SSMC) accredited as a Level 1 trauma centre by the American College of Surgeons (ACS). SSMC is currently Abu Dhabi emirate’s main trauma centre.

Dr Marcelo Ribeiro, consultant general surgeon and division chair of trauma, burns, critical care and acute care surgery at SSMC, said the hospital is boosting its rehabilitation services, and ramping up trauma research and education, in an effort to achieve the Level 1 accreditation, the highest possible ACS ranking for a trauma centre.

About the conference

The EMHC is supported by the International Committee of Military Medicine (ICMM). Created in 1921, after the First World War, the ICMM is an international, intergovernmental, neutral and non-political organisation composed of more than 100 states. The UAE joined the (ICMM) and became a member in 1984.

EMHC for members of the military and healthcare industry sees various stakeholders coming together to discuss current trends and developments in the area of military health. The conference seeks to foster collaboration between military and civilian sector stakeholders, highlighting successful initiatives being undertaken to improve the quality of care provided to members of the Ministry of Defence, and developing new strategies for providing high-quality medical services.

The slogan of the event is ‘Lessons Learned and Vision for the Futur’, which is set to guide the discussions during this unparalleled opportunity to learn from experts in the field on a range of topics related to military health. Speakers include leading international academics, senior defence officials, representatives from governmental and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and experienced practitioners who have direct experience in addressing challenges facing military personnel and their families.

The main keynote address was presented by Lieutenant General Raymond Scott Dingle, US Army Surgeon General, and Command Sergeant Major Diamond Hough, who highlighted the role of army medicine, the mission, and how the readiness of the US Forces is built and maintained.

In addition to the educational component of the EMHC, there is also an exhibition area where exhibitors from around the world are showcasing products and services specifically related to military healthcare.