Dubai doctors warn that poor lifestyle choices are causing Arab healthcare crisis
One of the largest health-care events in the region opened in Dubai yesterday even as doctors warn that non-communicable diseases are increasing in the region because of poor lifestyle choices.
More than 100,000 medical professionals and exhibitors are attending the three-day Arab Health Congress at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre.
Shaikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, Minister of Finance and President of Dubai Health Authority (DHA), inaugurated the exhibition and congress and was briefed about the mandatory health insurance scheme for Dubai residents.
DHA announced that the brand name for the insurance scheme is ISAHD (Insurance System for Advancing Healthcare in Dubai) and means “happiness” in Arabic.
Simon Page, group director of Arab Health, said new technologies will be launched and include a CT (computed tomography) scanner that enables clinicians to non-invasively see the human heart more clearly than ever before, and diagnose more patients with erratic or high heart beat rate.
One of the interesting new wearable technologies launched are smart glasses that help nurses see “through” a patient’s skin to the veins below. This is the first vein detection device that can also store the data digitally and share the information with doctors remotely.
With new technologies and huge investments in health care in the UAE and the region, people are living longer but lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and obesity are diminishing the quality of life, meaning that people are under medication most of their life, have to be constantly monitored and their work and social life is hampered.
Doctors say that knowledge and awareness are essential to stem the onslaught of lifestyle diseases and cancers that are increasing.
Page said the constant improvements in the standard of health care in the region open the door for a niche market, which is long-term care. “This will encourage private entities to invest in the setting up of private care homes and long-term care facilities for the elderly,” he said.
However, health analysts said the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states, of which the UAE is a member, are unable to produce a sufficient number of clinical staff to provide health care for their populations.
More than 80 per cent of physicians in some of these countries are from outside the region as the number of new medical graduates does not match the growth of the GCC population.
“Without the right staff, the best equipment can stand unused and the most up-to-date techniques may not necessarily be in full practice,” said Page. “Physicians trained in over 50 different countries is leading to inconsistencies across the region,” he said.
Demand for medical treatment over the next 20 years will rise in the GCC by 240 per cent, in particular cardiovascular disease will increase by 419 per cent and diabetes-related ailments by 323 per cent.