Middle East needs to curtail brain drain: Haya


Healthcare leaders have been urged to develop strategies to stop ‘brain drain’ in the medical field from the Middle East.


Asma Ali Zain

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Published: Fri 28 Jan 2011, 8:43 AM

Last updated: Thu 16 Dec 2021, 9:08 AM

On the final day of the Arab Health exhibition, Princess Haya bint Hussein, wife of His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, urged leaders to devise strategies to retain talent.

“Like all developing countries, the Middle East too is facing a brain drain. We need to devise effective strategies to retain talent,” she said while delivering the keynote address at the Leaders in Healthcare conference on Thursday.

She also said that though healthcare affordability was considered a luxury in the Gulf region, it was far from the case. “Expenditure on healthcare in the region is lower but there is a clear warning on the horizon,” she said.

“For better or worse, today we are a part of a global health economy. The health of Emiratis and others in the region is increasingly tied to developments abroad.”

Princess Haya said there was a need to shape a healthcare system that was affordable either through the private sector or through private public partnerships. “It is clear that an effective health strategy that serves all must be far broader than medical interventions,” she said.

“A whole range of actors — both public and private — must work in harmony and focus on prevention far more than we do today. The key is promoting healthy lifestyles — raising the level of physical activity, improving the quality of diets, reducing tobacco and other harmful substances and following simple public safety measures.”

She highlighted that the most destructive maladies worldwide and in the Gulf region are not infectious diseases. There are diseases we create with our own behaviour – non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes and some respiratory afflictions, she added.

She emphasised the importance of adopting practices to improve health, including regular physical checkups and dietary changes, both of which go a long way in reducing the burden that such diseases take on the people of the Gulf region.“The largest single killer here today is type 2 diabetes and the UAE ranks second in the prevalence globally. In the next 15 years, cancer incidence in the Middle East will surpass that in any other region, increasing between 100 and 180 per cent,” she said.

“Whatever practical steps we take on these issues, we cannot avoid the simple fact that each of us have a role to play in public health – in our own personal health, our family’s and our communities,” she concluded.

The focus of this year’s Leaders in Healthcare was ‘specific drivers’ for leaders spearheading the partnership in healthcare — government, patient and physician — to improve the bottom line yet contribute to the overall quality of patient care and a higher quality of life for all people.

Healthcare cost in all countries is growing faster than the GDP which is a big challenge, said Heinrich von Wulfen, Senior Vice President Global Sector, Siemens AG, Healthcare Sector, Germany.“We need to develop ‘patient-centric’models, opined Grace Chiang, COO, NGH Polyclinics, 


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