UAE remains resilient during Covid-19, health index shows
Residents across the UAE reported an improvement in their physical, family, social, and work health, as they took to working from home during the Covid-19 pandemic, research by global health service company, Cigna Corporation, showed.
In its first Cigna Covid-19 Global Impact Study, the company found that the UAE's Health Index was stronger than the global average during the lockdown period. The study looked at the responses of over 10,000 people from eight key markets in the period between January 10 to February 24, and then compared them to their responses in the period between April 22 to April 27.
According to the research, the UAE health index scored a total of 67.9 points, against the global average of 62.5 points - this was up by 2.1 points from January to April. Residents in the UAE reported having enough time for themselves, with this perception surging from 40 per cent to 50 per cent between January and April. They also said that they felt part of a community during the pandemic, with the sentiment increasing from 34 per cent to 46 per cent.
However, residents also reported a decline in their financial health, as well as difficulties with an 'always-on work culture' that made it difficult for them to log off from work, and, in many instances, put in longer hours when working from home. While 79 per cent of respondents claimed to have more flexible workdays and improved communications with colleagues, 65 per cent of respondents in the UAE admitted to working longer hours. With schools closed and children at home, 75 per cent also noted that they had to sacrifice their personal time or work time to support children, making their workday even longer.
Cigna's survey also showed that people will continue to pay more attention to their mental and physical health. If the option is available, 73 per cent of the respondents said they are likely to get virtual health consultations.
"We believe that the government and business leaders play a pivotal role in the health and well-being of a nation through shaping a secure environment for its people, even during a pandemic," said Jerome Droesch, CEO of Cigna MEA.
"Office-based work can promote better collaboration, productivity and efficiency," added Droesch. "However, we need to recognise the value that some employees garnered from working from home and continue protecting employee well-being during these times of change."
According to the Dubai Future Foundation's 10th 'Life after Covid-19: Health' report, healthcare systems worldwide are being tested by the crisis. The UAE moved quickly to ensure the virus was mitigated, beginning a disinfection programme in March, and repurposed large public buildings such as the Dubai World Trade Centre for bed space.
The report also highlighted how hospitals are deploying therapy using plasma. Doctors have found that 40-50 per cent of patients show positive results, and the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) have approved both DHA and private hospitals to provide convalescent plasma therapy. In the UAE, at the Abu Dhabi Stem Cell Centre, researchers are testing Stem cell therapy on Covid-19 patients. As of the beginning of May, 73 patients had received the treatment and had all recovered.
Like Cigna's research, the Dubai Future Foundation's report also noted that telemedicine may play a more prominent role in the future of healthcare, with more patients likely to have initial consultations online or via AI chatbots. The development of clear security protocols, like the Dubai Health Authority and Dubai Electronic Security Center's 'Security Standard for Electronic Biomedical Devices' will be vital to protecting patients' privacy and providing accurate information.
"Throughout history, we have witnessed that it is particularly during times of war and crises that significant breakthroughs have been made leading to the well-being and prosperity of the wider community," said Humaid Al Qutami, director general of the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) and chairman of the Dubai Future Council for Health and Wellbeing. "However, such solutions can only be achieved through a comprehensive evaluation of the situation, followed by meticulous plans to ensure logical and realistic outcomes."
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