UAE overcoming Covid-19 is a national success story, say top healthcare officials

Residents' and visitors' willingness to comply with protective protocols also aided Emirates' current victory against the pandemic


Dhanusha Gokulan

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Dubai Health Forum. Photo: Neeraj Murali
Dubai Health Forum. Photo: Neeraj Murali

Published: Wed 2 Mar 2022, 6:26 PM

The UAE’s fight against Covid-19 focused on a comprehensive approach towards patient care, top UAE healthcare officials said at the fourth edition of the Dubai Health Forum.

Officials revealed that the country’s battle against the pandemic adopted a collaborative approach and employed digital solutions for complex problems. Residents’ and visitors’ willingness to comply with protective protocols also aided UAE’s current victory against Covid-19.

After several initial hiccups, today, the UAE can process over one million RT-PCR tests a day and has the capabilities to manufacture ten million face masks. The Hope Consortium of coronavirus vaccines has successfully delivered more than 210 million Covid-19 vaccines to over 60 countries in 2021.

The Emirates’ efforts to battle the pandemic were discussed in-depth by healthcare sector officials at the opening day of the Dubai Health Forum, an annual gathering for healthcare leaders, professionals and the community.

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, toured the Dubai Health Forum on March 2.

Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of Dubai Executive Council, inaugurated the fourth edition of DHF on Wednesday.

The Dubai rulers toured the exhibition of smart medical equipment and solutions, held alongside the forum at the Dubai World Trade Centre with top Dubai healthcare officials following the official inaugural ceremony on March 2. The two-day conference will end on March 3.

In his keynote address, Awadh Seghayer Al Ketbi, the director-general of DHA, said the pandemic confirmed the importance of the exchange of data, a collaboration between all entities, and intelligent solutions to overcome a crisis.

“All these are the objectives of the Dubai Health Forum. We focus on healthcare as a comprehensive system that faces and encounters difficulties and challenges to cope with them and ensure progress,” said Al Ketbi.

The director-general said, “We confirm the value of our leaders, health scholars, doctors, and specialists. They enhance our work to provide the best healthcare in the UAE.”

Following the keynote address, top UAE officials in the government sector discussed life after Covid-19, preparing for future emergencies, and how the UAE overcame the global crisis on the forum’s opening day.

Dr Omar Abdelrahman Al Hammadi, internal medicine consultant and official spokesman for the media briefing of the UAE government in 2020, moderated the first session of the day. He said the pandemic forced people to work together and was a turning point for humanity. “It put us under a crucial test,” said Dr Hammadi.

‘UAE’s secret of success: Take care of every patient’

Dr Alawi Asheikh-Ali, the deputy director-general of DHA, said UAE adopted a scientific measure to combat the pandemic. “We worked scientifically; we used clinical experimentations before launching the national vaccination campaign.”

Dr Ali said, “The principle of healthcare requires you to look at society, and the patient gets a comprehensive look as well.”

“The secret lies in taking care of every patient. Our leadership was evident; we had to care for every patient and manage cooperation between different departments, and that’s the secret to UAE’s success,” he said.

“The approach demands that we look at overall health and not just look at internal medicine or one organ without thinking of about the social and economic repercussions the pandemic would have on the patient,” he added.

Meanwhile, Dr Jamal Alkaabi, the undersecretary of the Department of Health, Abu Dhabi, said, “In the crisis framework, the more we are prepared, the easier it is to deal with any emergency.”


Dr AlKaabi said the UAE implemented a contingency plan after government departments figured out the fundamentals of the pandemic. He said that the government had had several emergency drills to handle calamities in the past ten years. “Moreover, our leadership is always optimistic, and they care for the nation’s health.” He added.

Dr Kaabi was one among the many who battled the pandemic from the frontlines. “There are soldiers and leaders, and that is the main reason for our success. I was lucky to have this chance and work with my friends and colleagues in the field,” he added.

“After the initial struggles, the UAE is now able to process at least one million PCR tests every day,” said Alkaabi. “This is a huge achievement after the challenges, and yesterday, Abu Dhabi reduced the price of the RT-PCR tests to Dh 40.”

Dr Yousef Al Serkal, the director-general of Emirates Health Services, pointed out the damages suffered by those in the medical cadre during this time. “Many countries today are still facing lockdowns,” he added.

Moreover, government agility also played an essential role over the last three years. “Given the frequency of updates, the government with a lot of agility and flexibility. We were able to transform our opportunities,” said Dr Al Serkal.

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