Prevention, not cure is focus of UAE's health policy

Prevention, not cure is focus of UAEs health policy

Dubai - The strategy is based on a national agenda that aims to achieve world class health care by 2021.



By Asma Ali Zain

Published: Wed 17 Feb 2016, 11:00 PM

Last updated: Fri 19 Feb 2016, 7:23 AM

Forming future policies to live by its new name, the Ministry of Health and Protection of Society will issue a new health strategy for 2017-2021, focusing on prevention rather than cure.
The strategy is based on a national agenda that aims to achieve world class health care by 2021.
The ministry has already identified and drawn out several plans to deal with immediate pressing issues. His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, earlier this month made sweeping changes in the government, including renaming the Ministry of Health as Ministry of Health and Protection of Society.

Vision 2021 aims for a longer, healthy life
Besides hospital accreditation, the national agenda emphasises the importance of preventive medicine and seeks to reduce cancer and lifestyle-related diseases, such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases to ensure a longer, healthy life for citizens.The agenda also aims to reduce prevalence of smoking and increase the healthcare system's readiness to deal with epidemics and health risks.
He also announced the launch of an independent entity to oversee and manage public hospitals. "The role of the ministry will evolve to focus more on the prevention of diseases," he said, in a series of tweets.
Following his instructions, officials at the ministry have been mandated to put strategies in place. "This is a good announcement made by Shaikh Mohammed," said Dr Nada Hassan Al Marzouqi, acting director of Preventive Medicine Department at the ministry.
In an interview with Khaleej Times on the future steps to be taken by the ministry, she said that non-communicable diseases (NCDs), such as cancer, diabetes and obesity, were identified as the topmost problems that needed to be dealt with.
Earlier this week, the ministry announced a three-year plan called Your Health Comes First, that aims to promote healthy lifestyles
Prevention, not cure is UAE's health focus and eating, as well as encourage physical activity among the residents.
"We are putting in place strong surveillance systems, not only to monitor infectious diseases but NCDs as well," she said, adding that the ministry was focusing on improving community health for which a number of programmes have already been rolled out.
A major focus will remain on early screening programmes at primary health care centres. "This will include monitoring of the community's levels of interest in smoking, physical activity, and unhealthy diets which indirectly lead to obesity and diabetes," said Dr Nada. "We are also going to target periodic checking exams for NCDs."
She said that adult immunisation was an important part of prevention. "This is an important aspect since immunity in adults may have gone down since they got immunised in childhood. This makes them more susceptible to diseases," said Dr Nada.
Neonatal screening and maternal health will also be another focus. "We want to create a healthy environment for children even before they are born."
The ministry recently launched the mGene project that aims at catching genetic diseases upon birth.
Vision 2021 in focus
Bringing down the mortality, prevalence rates of diseases.
> Indicator: Number of deaths from Cardiovascular Diseases per 100,000 population
> Current: 297.6 deaths per 100,000 population (2012 figure published in the 2014 report)
> 2021 Target: 158.2 deaths per 100,000 population> Indicator: Prevalence of Diabetes
> Current: 19.02% (2014) > 2021 Target: 16.28%
> Indicator: Prevalence of Obesity among Children (5-17 years)  >Current: 13.17% (2014)
> 2021 Target: 12%
> Indicator: Average Healthy Life Expectancy
> Current: 67 years (2013 figure published in the 2015 report) 2021  >Target:73 years
>Indicator: Prevalence of Smoking any Tobacco Product
>Current: 21.6% among men, 1.9% among women (Ministry of Health 2010) 2021
>Target: 15.7% among men, 1.66% among women
>Indicator: Number of Deaths from Cancer per 100,000 Population >Current: 99 deaths (2012 figure published in 2014 report) 2021
>Target: 64.2UAE
asmaalizain@khaleejtimes.com


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