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UAE demonstrates progressive leadership in public health

Article-UAE demonstrates progressive leadership in public health

Shutterstock UAE public health
The UAE’s advances in healthcare serve as a role model for the global industry.

The UAE’s commitment to healthcare excellence is evident through a series of initiatives led by the Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP) and healthcare authorities. From cancer and diabetes prevention to educational awareness sessions, these public health initiatives aim to safeguard the well-being of citizens, patients and visitors.

The nation’s vision for the next 50 years prioritises healthcare, emphasising coordination and readiness to address health challenges effectively. The UAE’s progress in healthcare, attributed to its visionary leadership, serves as a role model for the global industry.

The National Public Health Committee was set up to review public health protection strategies, oversee the implementation of prevention and response plans, coordinate the efforts of health-related entities, and set priorities for research and studies in public health. Minister HE Abdulrahman Al Owais praised its establishment as a significant step in strengthening the UAE’s healthcare system.

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In October this year, the UAE launched the National Prediabetes and Diabetes Screening campaign , a year-long initiative conducted in public and private workplaces. Initiated by the MoHAP, this programme not only detects diabetes but also emphasises lifestyle improvements, healthy diets, physical activity, and timely intervention. With a projected doubling of diabetes cases in the UAE by 2040, the initiative addresses the rising prevalence of the disease, aiming to reduce associated health risks. Artificial intelligence is integrated into data collection and analysis, enhancing early detection and lifestyle insights. Aligned with the ministry’s mission to improve public health, the project offers follow-up consultations, a dedicated hotline, and the publication of data in medical papers, emphasising its comprehensive and public-focused nature.

The third phase of the MoHAP’s ‘Positive and Healthy Work Environment - Check’ initiative demonstrates the nation’s commitment to employee well-being. Aligned with the National Wellbeing Strategy 2031, this initiative targets chronic illnesses by advocating regular check-ups, health education, and healthy habits such as balanced nutrition and physical activities. Engaging 2,500 employees from 25 entities in its previous two phases, the programme reflects the Ministry’s commitment to enhancing public health standards and encouraging a health-conscious workforce. The initiative aims to address issues including diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and depression.

Targeting federal and local government entities in Dubai and the Northern Emirates, the programme focuses on promoting employee well-being, preventing chronic illnesses and enhancing institutional performance. The initiative also includes provisions for physical activities, promoting healthy eating, discouraging smoking and managing work-related stress.

For children living in the UAE, the ‘Eat Right and Get Active Programme’ first initiated in 2011, promotes holistic health within schools. Developed in collaboration with various institutes and following the World Health Organization’s Health Promoting Schools model, the goal is to reduce diseases resulting from poor nutrition and physical inactivity. Over the years, it has expanded to include schools and nurseries, emphasising nutrition and activities including ‘My Healthy Plate’ and ‘Rethink Your Drink’.

In Abu Dhabi, the ‘Public Health Ambassador Programme’ emphasises the joint responsibility of society and individuals in promoting healthy lifestyles. It addresses the need for enhanced community engagement in preventive measures, such as screening, dental consultations and vaccinations. This programme also tackles issues including sedentary behaviour and unhealthy diets.

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Nouf Khamis Al Ali, the director of the Health Promotion Department at MoHAP, highlighted the benefits of the programme, emphasising its role in providing a user-friendly guide for employers to implement health awareness activities for their employees. The guide offers practical steps and ideas, along with necessary resources. The initiative, designed to promote healthy lifestyles and reduce the risk of chronic diseases, is expected to lead to increased employee productivity, heightened energy levels, improved focus, greater work satisfaction, reduced absenteeism, and lower treatment expenses. Recognising the significance of a positive work environment in enhancing employee health and quality of life, Nouf urged all government entities to actively participate in this health initiative.

Across the UAE, several early detection initiatives have been rolled out including a comprehensive maternal and child health programme that integrates preventive measures and screenings to improve the health of women, infants, children and families. To help target the management of asthma and COPD the Chronic Respiratory Diseases initiative employs evidence-based strategies and evaluation processes.

The UAE’s MoHAP is dedicated to protecting public health and hepatitis eradication as a top priority. MoHAP launched a national programme between the government and private healthcare sectors. A regional leader since 1991, the UAE has incorporated the hepatitis B vaccine into the National Immunization Programme. MoHAP’s approach includes vaccinations, screenings and awareness campaigns, highlighting the significance of public health and a tough legislative system to protect society from diseases.

The UAE also launched an ambitious National Genome Strategy, mapping the DNA of citizens with over 400,000 samples collected and a goal of one million over the next decade. The strategy focuses on legislation, secure data infrastructure, research capabilities, public health applications and partnerships. This initiative, a global leader in genomics, aims to enhance preventive healthcare, offering insights into genetic health risks and enabling precision treatments.

Key applications include personalised oncology medicine, pre-marital genetic screening, and pharmacogenomics. This strategic move aligns with the UAE’s vision for advanced healthcare, marking it as a global leader in research and innovation, emphasising its commitment to health and well-being. 

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