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Health - National day 2001

posted on 30/11/2001: 1706 views

During the past year, the Ministry of Health has continued efforts to improve and modernise its healthcare services by introducing state- of-art diagnostic, curative and preventive systems. The implementation of these and other plans have further enhanced the network of health and medical facilities in the country, which have now been acknowledged by the World Health Organisation as being on a par with those of the industrialised nations. Among achievements in 2001 was the certification of the UAE as being free from poliomyelitis. No cases have been reported here for ten years, an achievement that can be ascribed to a large extent to the efforts by the Ministry and its various preventive Medicine Departments to ensure that a comprehensive programme of vaccination against this and other diseases is carried out.

The Ministry now manages a total of 30 hospitals, 115 centres for primary health care and 9 centres for preventive medicine throughout the country. At the end of 2000, the UAE had 4,473 hospital beds, one for every 690 of the population. According to Minister of Health Hamad Abdul Rahman Al Madfa, ' Both the rapid population growth and the increase in demand for better health services have prompted the Ministry to adopt ambitious plans for the provision of healthcare in the country.'

Among new targets is the need for the development of highly specialised services, the improvement of laboratory and diagnostic facilities and the introduction of a series of standards ensure rational and safe utilisation of services. The Ministry is also planning to increase the total number of beds in government hospitals dramatically within the next ten years, to nearly double the present number. The plan involves an increase to 6,700 by 2005 and 8,700 by 2010. This additional capacity will be made available through a number of new hospitals and construction of annexes to existing ones. 17 new hospitals will be set up across the country by the year 2005. There is also a plan to establish 25 new primary health care centres during the same period at a cost of Dh100 million. Landmark projects already completed include the Sheikh Khalifa Hospital for surgery and emergency cases in Abu Dhabi, a general hospital at Medinat Zayed in the Western Region, and the Sheikh Khalifa hospital in Ajman. The Ministry of Health is also committed to providing medicines through an effective system guaranteeing precise standards of all medicines and medical material.

According to a report by the Pharmaceutical and Medicine Control Department of the Ministry, the number of licensed pharmaceutical institutions in the country is now 794, including 641 private pharmacies, 23 pharmacies in hospitals, 115 medical stores, nine pharmaceutical factories and six scientific offices. The Ministry licensed 88 new institutions over the last year, in addition to 176 pharmacists and 88 assistant pharmacists, according to the report. The Central Laboratories and Blood Banks Department at the Ministry of Health as well as the Abu Dhabi and Sharjah blood banks have received the ISO 9002 certificate, the first blood bank services to be awarded this certificate in the region. Dr Amin Al Amiri, Director of the department, said that a team of experts from the British Standardisation Incorporation (BSI), which grants the ISO certificates, had visited the country and reviewed services of the department, as well as blood banks in Abu Dhabi and Sharjah before granting the certificate. 'The experts expressed admiration at our advanced services in the fields of administration, blood safety and blood transfusion services. They also admired our quality assurance system and the wide range of laboratory tests to detect any viral diseases that can be transmitted through blood transfusion,' he said.

During the year, the Ministry of Health also completed the design of a programme for fighting epidemic diseases to protect the country from introduced epidemic diseases such as pulmonary tuberculosis, AIDS, salmonella, intestinal worms, hepatitis (B) and leprosy. A special preventive programme to combat AIDS has been in operation since September 1984. AIDS tests are carried out in 16 laboratories throughout the country with over 5 million tests now having been completed. Substantial progress has also been achieved in the eradication of malaria, thanks to the efforts of a special unit established in 1972 in Sharjah. Malaria now accounts for less than 1 per cent of all cases of disease reported to the Ministry.

The Ministry has introduced a quality assurance programme which aim to ensure that all medical staff in government institutions have acquired the necessary skills to provide advanced medical services and are committed to quality standards of health services. The programme features a wide range of lectures, conferences, workshops and training courses on skills required to apply quality assurance standards in different health services. At present the government finances 81 per cent of the cost of health care services throughout the country. ' The government will remain the major health provider, but the Ministry is also keen to encourage the private sector to expand in providing health services,' Al Madfa said. The federal government and Abu Dhabi emirate have taken steps to begin the privatisation of healthcare and several projects have been launched as a result of collaboration between the Ministry and the UAE Offsets Group (UOG). As a first step, the UOG is launching the Emirates Health Care Company to provide healthcare management, healthcare investments and consultancy services. Several other projects are planned including a day surgery centre, sports rehabilitation facility and a diabetes and heart surgery centre. (The Emirates News Agency, WAM)


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