Dubai's DHA bags global recognition for proactive Covid-19 response

Dubai - Under the Dubai Shield Programme, the DHA successfully increased the city’s testing capacity to 80,000 tests per day.

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By Saman Haziq​

Published: Fri 25 Dec 2020, 9:33 AM

The Dubai Health Authority (DHA) has received an international recognition for being “proactive” in its Covid-19 response action plan.

The authority was honoured by the International Hospital Federation (IHF) under the ‘Beyond the Call of Duty for Covid-19 Programme’ for its “swift and innovative” action plan during the pandemic, along with over 100 hospitals from 28 countries.

The DHA was lauded for the precautionary measures it implemented as early as January 2020 to swing into quick action to increase capacity, minimise the community spread of Covid-19, maximise testing capacity, chalk-out and procure timely medicines and medical equipment required in mass quantities and for its strategies in terms of isolation facilities and procedures.

The authority received the recognition badge after a thorough review by an international committee consisting of 16 industry experts from the healthcare industry.

Rashid Hospital and Latifa Hospital for Women and Children were recognised for their outstanding Covid-19 response action plan.

Rashid Hospital was the first hospital in the UAE and in GCC to admit and manage Covid-19 patients. To deal with the influx of patients, the hospital immediately rolled out infection control measures and rapidly increased bed capacity.

Dr Fahad Baslaib, CEO of Rashid Hospital and consultant interventional cardiologist, said: “Within weeks, we enhanced our bed capacity in the ER from 68 to 158 beds. We also opened 131 new ICU beds for Covid-19 patients and increased the number of beds equipped with a negative pressure system from just 22 to 402 beds. Despite the challenges, we increased staff numbers by hiring 14 new doctors and an additional 320 nurses. We added 786 infusion pumps and 131 ventilators and heart monitors.

“Moreover, to improve patient outcomes, we used progressive oxygen therapy to reduce the need for ventilators. We also established a plasma donation clinic for recovered patients and opened the country’s first specialised Covid-19 clinic dedicated to follow up recovered patients.”

Dr Muna Tahlak, CEO of Latifa Hospital for Women and Children, said: “Our hospital has long been recognised for its maternity, newborn and paediatric services. When the pandemic struck, however, we dedicated our services to treat Covid-19 patients and provided full-fledged round-the-clock care for all community members. "

Dr Tahlak said that the hospital swiftly underwent extensive remodelling of units and reallocation of staff to care for Covid-19 patients. "Our staff remained resolute in the face of uncertainty and fear. The sacrifice paid off: The pandemic was controlled across the country, allowing us to resume our normal services,” she added.

The DHA’s Dubai Shield Programme was recognised at the Beyond the Call of Duty for Covid-19 Programme for proactively responding with outstanding and innovative actions in facing the pandemic.

The DHA and some private hospitals received the recognition by the IHF under the Beyond the Call of Duty for Covid-19 Program.

Drastic steps to fight the virus

Dr Fatma Alsharaf, director of the Corporate Quality and Excellence Department at the DHA, said the authority laid the groundwork for an aggressive system to fight the virus as early as January 2020 and it formulated its pioneering Dubai Shield Programme (DSP). Under the Dubai Shield Programme, the DHA successfully increased the city’s testing capacity to 80,000 tests per day.

By using pre-fabricated modular materials, the DHA was able to build new healthcare facilities within just 60 days, whereas such projects would typically take seven months to complete.

The DHA also collaborated with the private sector to increase the number of available isolation beds. Apart from building new facilities, the DHA also converted 89 hotels and non-medical buildings into quarantine and isolation facilities.

The DHA also paid particular attention to ensure that critical care services were not interrupted. It helped hospitals shift smoothly to telemedicine where applicable, but essential services continued to be provided on-site.

A key enabler towards the DHA’s continuity of care was the Doctor for Every Citizen (DFEC) that provides 24/7 medical consultancy services focusing mainly on patients at highest risks of exposure including elderlies, immunity diseases’ & chronic diseases’ patients. Compared to 877 beneficiaries by February 2020, DFEC benefited more than 60,000 patients.

The Dubai Shield Programme also implemented a real-time communicable disease management system known as the Hasana Project. Hasana enables an emirate-wide network for reliable, accurate and real-time communicable disease oversight. It provides a unified system that connects public and private healthcare facilities, allowing the authorities to better control and mitigate the spread of diseases. The Hasana project can also be used as a public health oversight programme for large-scale events, such as Expo 2020-2021, allowing Dubai to maintain its edge as a global leader in the events industry.

The International Hospital Federation Beyond the Call of Duty for Covid-19 Programme is sponsored by the Japanese Red Cross Ashikaga Hospital – Nikken Group and the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations.

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