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Break the bias

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Already proving to be a prolific year for women in healthcare, we spoke to top leaders on areas that still warrant improvement.

Three months into 2022, we have witnessed major leaps for women in healthcare from a patient and professional point of view. Nabta Health, the Middle East's only hybrid healthcare platform committed towards elective, preventative women's healthcare, has secured $1.5 million in a new round of angel funding.

An incredible feat, it went on to announce its partnership with Fakeeh University Hospital to offer women the flexibility to complete a comprehensive range of diagnostic tests at home. These at home tests, designed to support and empower women are the first of their kind to be introduced in the healthcare market in the UAE and across the GCC.

Furthermore, they partnered with Glucare, a hybrid digital therapeutics diabetes platform, to help UAE-based women screen for gestational diabetes and be safe in the knowledge that they can find immediate care through the Nabta Health network, empowering them to identify and manage gestational diabetes with privacy, autonomy, and convenience.

Adding to the narrative of powering female leadership in health, Jacqui Robertson was recently appointed as Chief of Diversity and Inclusion at Cleveland Clinic. Robertson will drive global diversity and inclusion strategies and efforts across the health system while overseeing the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

Meanwhile the UAE’s very own, Dr. Farida AlHosani was the first Emirati woman to be appointed to the World Health Organisation's Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Framework Advisory Group for the years 2022-2024. Dr. Hosani is the UAE's official health spokesperson, an infectious disease expert, and the executive director of infectious diseases at the Abu Dhabi Public Health Centre (APHC), the region's first dedicated Centre dedicated to protecting Abu Dhabi residents' physical, mental, and social well-being through public and preventative healthcare awareness.

Triumphs in female driven solutions

As part of its latest addition to its 3D platform, Complete Anatomy, Elsevier, a global leader in academic publishing and information analytics, recently announced the unveiling of the most sophisticated 3D whole female model ever available. This is the first time a female model has been produced with this level of detail throughout to represent the female — rather than only substituting female traits in select sections of the male anatomy. For the first time, educators may see, modify, and teach anatomy totally from the perspective of a woman, all in exceptionally realistic 3D detail. Complete Anatomy is the No. 1 top-selling medical category app on iPad in the United States, with over 20 million downloads worldwide, courtesy of 3D4 Medical by Elsevier's groundbreaking cloud-based medical education platform.

With many progressions setting the pace for female driven solutions and leadership opportunities in healthcare, however, there still is a large area where the bias remains.

“For the last 200 years women have been living in a healthcare system built by men for men. The drugs, devices, technology, and products that we use every day for our health and wellness needs have usually been tested on men with very little representation of women in these clinical trials. Most drugs are prescribed to women and men at the same dose. We use apps for tracking our menstrual health or fertility cycles that are designed by men from the male point of view.

Breaking the bias for me means building a woman centered healthcare system, women only trials increasing female representation among researchers, inventors, investors, venture capitalists and founders who in turn can create a much more women centered product and solution base that recognise and target women's specific healthcare needs and eventually achieve a society that is healthy and a community that is safe,” explains Reenita Das, Partner, Senior Vice President, Healthcare and Life Sciences at Frost and Sullivan.

Leadership in nursing is also an area which requires more support moving forward, “Through the years, and especially since the pandemic, doctors have learned to respect nurses, and their abilities more, making a better care team. However, there are key issues which need to be addressed, which are nurse burnout, PTSD from the pandemic and nurses leaving the profession in droves. Nurse leadership needs to constantly reassess our priorities and provide purposeful and meaningful direction to the staff.

We should be prepared for another emergency like the pandemic in the future, and if we work together, we can create a world that is diverse, equitable and inclusive, a world where difference is valued and celebrated and respected.  I think collectively, we can break the bias,” says Caren Busen, Director of International Clinical Support, OBIX Middle East.

Speaking on women’s equality, Dr. Maliha Hashmi, Doctor of Law, Jurisprudence, Health Systems Designs and Health Regulations- Harvard Law School,  expressed, “In terms of equality, and in terms of equal opportunity for females, my vision for our society is one which thrives in harmony. Every person from any race, ethnicity, culture, religion, background, and gender is able to have equal opportunities and productively co exist amongst one another. This will help cultivate mixed teams, where females are equally represented in every step of the way, and given equal opportunities to grow and to succeed.  For a future world where innovation and creativity is fostered, this is essential.”

Adding to the discussion Samar Nassar, Director, Healthcare - KPMG in Saudi Arabia spoke about the importance of passion and self-confidence fuelling female leadership in healthcare “You have to believe in yourself. More than 15 years ago, I saw an ad on bayt.com, LinkedIn didn't exist at that time, and it speficially outlined that the organisation was seeking a male medical representative. When I looked at the job description, I felt I was the right fit and I applied for it and got the job. This was my entry into the industry. Of course you need to have what it takes to perform to your highest and best ability, and excel at the job, focusing on the scope that has been assigned to you to succeed.”

Reflecting on the future health summit in January during Arab health, Dr. Alaa Murabit, Medical Doctor, Global Security Strategist, Women’s Rights Advocate and United Nations High-Level Commissioner on Health commented during the panel discussion on the importance of creating roles and opportunities for female leadership roles. “The population of women that are in the healthcare workforce are actually quite critical, because the primary population that is served by primary health care systems are losing children. When we talk about women in positions of leadership, it does come down to power. That is what leadership is, and leadership is inherently power, a dynamic of power. For women to own more power, the importance of women’s leadership will warrant a very active negotiation,” said Dr. Alaa.

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This report shares exclusive perspectives from healthcare leaders from Patient Safety Congress, who discuss the lessons learned from the pandemic and what the future has in store.

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