January 10th, 2018
Emirates of Abu Dhabi Health care system
Demographic, health status indicators and government healthcare strategy
EAD’s recent population growth has been fueled mainly by the massive inflow of expatriates due to the regions economic potential. Such growth is in correspondence to the growth witnessed in the entire UAE in recent years. A World Health Organization [WHO] (2009) report for instance estimated the UAE population to have increased to 4,765,000 in 2008 from the 2005 estimate of 4,210,000 of which 80% inhabited the urban centers (P. 3). These country indicators have also been devolved to the individual emirates level with the population of EAD having been noted to have soared due to expatriates’ inflow (HAAD 2009b). For instance, the population is comprised mainly of expatriates (4/5) with most of these noted to be between 20 and 40 years of age (HAAD 2009b, p. 4). The remainder, the nationals also comprise mainly of young residents of whom 2/3 are under 30 years of age and half of the 2/3 being below 21 years of age (HAAD 2009b, p.4). Further the expatriate population is mainly males of Asian origin with a significant number of these being under the employment of construction industries and inhabiting labor camps (HAAD 2009b). Just as the entire UAE’s fertility and mortality rates have been noted to have declined in the WHO (2009) report the trend is also noted for EAD. Whereas the decline in birth rate has been attributed to the changing culture of the people due to expatriates’ influence resulting into late marriages, changing attitudes on the ideal family size and more women turning to work and education; the death rate decrease is mainly attributed to improved healthcare making it possible to combat diseases that were hard to cure (HAAD 2009b).
Various diseases however continue to destroy the livelihood of EAD residents. Among these diseases those of the circulatory system claimed the highest casualties in Abu Dhabi (AD) in 2008 with external factors resulting into mortality and morbidity, and neoplasms taking the second and third positions (HAAD 2009b). Most of the circulatory system fatalities are associated with lifestyle changes characterized by high cases of diseases such as obesity, cardiovascular disease (CVD) and diabetes (HAAD 2009b). Among the external causes road accident injuries are notable causes of young males’ deaths with breast cancers being the most implicated cause of death in the in the neoplasms category (HAAD 2009b). Other non-life threatening ailments common in the population are respiratory infections (HAAD 2009b) which a WHO (2007) strategic report as attributed to the rapid growth and urbanization in the UAE. However, due to stringent immunization programs targeted to infants the degree of infancy communicable diseases is minimal hence factoring into the decline in mortality rate that has been observed in both the entire UAE (WHO 2009) and in AD (HAAD 2009b).
The political system of the UAE is a factor influencing the healthcare system of the country and its constituent emirates. Being a two tier system with federal and local governments – the latter being operational in each one of the emirates and the former serving to unify the entire country (‘Political system,’ 2010) – each region can develop health control mechanisms that are custom made to meet its needs. The federal government is however also involved in charting the way forward for the entire UAE’s healthcare system and in this light its strategic plan incorporates various healthcare aspects. By the establishment of organizational and legislative frameworks that are advised by international best practices (IBPs) the federal government does not only envision the upgrading of both public and private healthcare players capabilities but also aims to identify the core areas that healthcare development would be directed towards (‘Highlights of the UAE Government strategy,’ 2007). Further the strategy aims at establishing quality control systems in public hospitals and development of principal welfare units, besides improving medical professionals training and instituting nationalization programs via encouraging the private sector into partnering with the government in healthcare provision and financing (P. 6).
This strategy requires well formulated guidelines for its achievement in light of which the government provides specific initiatives it wishes to institute. Initiatives such as: seeking hospital accreditation in line with the established quality control standards; developing archiving systems for medical records to generate a national database; and restructuring the primary centers offering healthcare to include health care teams and referral channels have been advanced to be core to strategy achievement (‘Highlights of the UAE Government strategy,’ 2007, P. 6). Further by establishing and sustaining management training programs for national leaders; easing the establishment of healthcare projects; instituting self-management systems to enable functioning of hospitals as autonomous economic entities; and enabling partnerships of government hospitals with reputable international health care providers the government hopes to achieve various objectives of the strategic plan (p. 6). Partial establishment of these programs has resulted in a favorable healthcare system in the entire UAE as exemplified by the indicators discussed earlier.
A number of important issues have been highlighted in the government’s health strategy. Core among these is the structuring of healthcare funding and involvement of private sector in such funding. Appropriate funding would not only ensure that the system provides quality healthcare but also would avoid making such healthcare to become out of reach for many residents. Automation and subsequent controls that cater for privacy and safety of medical records would also have a significant effect in reducing the cost of healthcare. The inability to automate healthcare systems has been identified to result into high costs for the ultimate payers of the services (Chua 2006). Automation and integration however require the establishment of strict controls that avoids unauthorized access and dissemination of such medical records – a possible pit fall that could arise from automation. With successful implementation of these measures then the partnering with reputable international healthcare institutions and the training that practitioner can benefit from these partnerships would curtail the outsourcing of medical services from foreign countries. Go to part 3 here.