Awadh Seghayer Al Ketbi, director-general of the Dubai Health Authority, during his opening speech at the Congress Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: The International Hospital Federation’s 45th World Hospital Congress (WHC) began in Dubai on Wednesday with a focus on moving towards ‘green hospitals’.

The annual gathering of the International Hospital Federation (IHF), the Geneva-headquartered global voice of hospitals and health systems for over a century, called on medical service providers to ensure sustainable healthcare and fight climate change.

Dubai is hosting the prestigious WHC for the second time. The three-day event is being held under the patronage of Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Executive Council of Dubai, under the theme ‘Global Learnings, Local Actions: Sustainable Healthcare’. The opening ceremony took place at Dubai World Trade Centre in the presence of high-level health officials including Abdul Rahman Mohammed Al Owais, the UAE Minister of Health and Prevention, and Dr Amer Ahmad Sharif, CEO of Dubai Academic Health Corporation.

During his opening speech, Awadh Seghayer Al Ketbi, director-general of the Dubai Health Authority (DHA), said that organising and hosting such a conference reflected the capabilities of the UAE and Dubai, as an international hub for healthcare services.

He said that it also highlights Dubai’s excellence in the sector and is in accordance with the vision and guidance of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, and Ruler of Dubai. Al Ketbi thanked Sheikh Hamdan for his support and highlighted that his patronage provided further impetus to the conference.

Large carbon footprint

“Health care organisations represent the fifth largest carbon footprint in the world. And the sector is now looking at innovative ways to address the significant concern,” he pointed out.

During the conference, Al Ketbi said, experts in sustainability from within and outside the health sector will discuss best practices and innovations to move towards ‘green hospitals.’

“Climate change is increasingly recognised as the greatest threat to our future. Sustainable healthcare will positively impact the quality of life of the communities we serve. At the same time, it will help the global health care sector become environmentally responsible. In many ways, that can help also reduce costs and drive efficiency,” Al Ketbi added.

“The conference presents an important opportunity for participants and decision-makers to discuss potential solutions to overcome global health challenges and in particular to discuss sustainability in healthcare. It also poses an important opportunity to share experiences and expertise, strengthen relationships, and discuss new prospects for cooperation among all participants.”

Addressing climate change

Ronald Lavater, CEO of the IHF, underlined the critical need for sustainable healthcare. “Climate change is already impacting human health and is increasingly recognised as the greatest threat to our future health. Hospitals and health systems are on the frontline when it comes to responding to its consequences. We understand the impact. But we are only beginning to address the sector’s contribution to the problem,” Lavater said.

At the IHF, he said the members agree about the need to raise awareness, and act now, to manage health systems in more sustainable ways. “Sustainable healthcare will reduce the burden on hospitals and health systems, and positively impact the quality of life, resilience, and wellbeing of the communities they serve. And that is why the IHF’s statement is a call to action to address climate change as an integral part of healthcare delivery.”

Closing gaps

Deborah J. Bowen, president of IHF and president and CEO of the American College of Healthcare Executives, said: “We are excited to bring the WHC to the UAE again and look forward to hearing about the efforts of our partners, the DHA, in fostering innovative and integrated care models and enhancing community engagement. When we come together in Dubai, our conversations focus on driving solutions and extending the reach and impact of our work into the future.”

Officials touring the event Image Credit: Supplied

For health care leaders, she said, it is paramount to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to access the care they need and deserve and “achieving that requires us to place a laser focus to be intentional about putting our patients first.”

“That means hardwiring organisations to close the gaps and disparities… that can miss those who are at high risk. It means having a patient-first mindset that keeps all those we serve at the forefront of our organisations’ systems, plans and processes. It means ensuring that organisations and the leadership of resources deliver safe care that is available to every patient. Certainly the challenge we face require us to find new solutions not only for today, but for tomorrow to make an impact that will sustain us in the future,” added Bowen.

Dr Ramadan Al Blooshi, chairman of the organising committee of the conference, said the global meet is also discussing the challenges and solutions of the healthcare workforce, ways and processes to ensure the wellbeing of healthcare providers, and the role of leadership in building and shaping successful health institutions.

“It is an opportunity to learn about the latest innovations and models that help healthcare sector stay resilient, while improving the delivery of patient centered care…We all understand the importance of post pandemic health. We also understand the resilience and activities in healthcare and thus sharing expertise and experiences of experts from all over the world in this platform indeed is the need of the hour,” she added.

Dr Farida Al Khaja, head of the scientific committee of the WHC, said that over three days, leaders and decision-makers in the healthcare community will share knowledge and best practices, exchange new ideas and innovations, and network with other senior executives.

Roving Ambassador for the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean for the GCC, Chairman of INDEX Holding and IHF Special Adviser to the Middle East Region, Dr Abdul Salam Al Madani, said: “The UAE’s wise leadership has long recognised the pivotal role of innovation across the healthcare sector and more importantly in hospitals which drives better outcomes and improves the efficiency of the healthcare system. By organising the 45th WHC, we are committed to providing the right environment for individuals and companies to thrive and connect while fostering long-term relationships among participants.”

The first day of WHC highlighted many important topics that discuss the latest global developments related to healthcare challenges faced by hospitals around the world, better application practices, innovations, smart solutions, and digital technology in the health sector, in addition to methods in providing sustainable health services to members of society and ensuring the service continuity during and after a crisis.

The 45th WHC features over 30 plenary and parallel sessions, more than 150 renowned speakers, 150 poster presentations and more than a dozen industry exhibitors.