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Experts call for national IT backbone to health sector

Asma Ali Zain / 25 January 2011

DUBAI - Healthcare experts at the Arab Health Exhibition and Congress have called for establishment of a national IT backbone to enable a secure and reliable exchange of health-related information.

Discussing a number of topics at the 36th edition of Arab Health Congress that was inaugurated on Monday by Shaikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and UAE Minister of Finance, at the Dubai International Exhibition and Convention Centre, doctors also said effective quality management was required in the region.

“There are significant gaps in quality management practices throughout the Middle East. We need to raise the importance of quality management, to improve the quality of healthcare,” said Dr Samer H. Ellahham, Chief Quality Officer, Senior Consultant, Shaikh Khalifa Medical City, Cleveland Clinic in Abu Dhabi, at the opening of the Quality Management (QM) in Healthcare Conference. Quality Management is seen as integral to lowering healthcare costs, which are estimated to rise fivefold in the region over the next 15 years, he said.

According to Dr Ajit Nagpal, Group Chairman of Wellogic based in USA/UAE, a national IT backbone would facilitate efficient and secure transfer of clinical and health related information for clinical care.

“It will also help capture crucial statistical information and trends to determine the epidemiological and economic burden of disease for prospective initiatives in public policy,” said the former advisor, Health Policy and Hospital Affairs, UAE Ministry of Health at the Healthcare Insurance Forum.

With the Middle East healthcare sector continuing to enjoy robust growth despite the debt crisis and stubborn levels of unemployment in Europe and the US, more than 300 new exhibitors and a host of new country pavilions are participating this year, with Argentina, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and Portugal making their debuts, according to the organisers.

On the sidelines of the event, a pact was signed between the UAE and Germany to facilitate coordination of patients’ treatment, exchange of expertise and health information. The Dubai Health Authority provided free blood pressure and diabetes tests to visitors.

asmaalizain@khaleejtimes.com

 
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