As the world celebrates World Health Day on April 7, the World Health Organization (WHO) highlights a yearly theme to raise awareness and set the tone for the future. This year's theme is “Health for All”, reminding people that health is the most valuable asset. While people tend to neglect their health due to their busy lifestyles, the WHO encourages adopting healthy habits and improving overall well-being for a happier life.
In its 75th anniversary, the WHO looks back at transformations in medicine and healthcare that have improved the quality of life for many. “The history of WHO demonstrates what is possible when nations come together for a common purpose,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general. He added: “We can only meet these global challenges with global cooperation.”
The UAE has also significantly improved public health over the past few decades and ranked among the top countries globally in 14 health indicators. The country is actively developing new and comprehensive approaches using emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and big data.
The country has also made impressive progress in reducing the prevalence of infectious diseases and implemented several successful vaccination campaigns that have eradicated diseases such as polio and measles. The government has also taken significant steps to combat communicable diseases like tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS.
The UAE has prioritised primary healthcare services, focusing on wellness, prevention, and treatment. “Primary healthcare with a focus on wellness, prevention, and treatment should be the universally available first point of contact for anyone to access healthcare services,” said Dr. Azad Moopen, Founder, Chairman and Managing Director of Aster DM Healthcare. “It is important that mandatory comprehensive primary healthcare entry becomes the foundation for a good healthcare system. This will assure universal access for prevention and early detection of diseases and aid in improved health outcomes at a much lesser cost.”
Dr. Azad Moopen
One of the UAE's most notable public health achievements is its universal healthcare system that provides comprehensive medical services to all citizens and residents. The government has invested heavily in the healthcare sector, focusing on preventive care measures. This has helped improve the population's health and reduce the burden of chronic diseases.
Jerome Droesch, CEO of Domestic Health and Health Services, International Health, Cigna Healthcare, said making healthcare accessible to all, including lower salary band employees, is crucial. “Regulators play a key role in increasing the scope of mandatory solutions that guarantee access to care for employees. The UAE and the region are ahead of the curve in these regulations, especially compared to other markets where some crucial healthcare policies may not be accessible to the lower-earning segments of the population. For instance, the recent mandate by the UAE to implement mandatory cover for mental health is a remarkable step towards improving the overall quality of life and care for everyone.”
He added, “The definition of quality access to care can vary based on factors such as culture, gender, biases, and more. Therefore, health insurers must develop unique solutions that cater to different clients' different needs. For patients who can't afford expensive healthcare solutions, insurers should ensure that even the lowest income segment can access care as often as required.”
With digitalisation being the future of healthcare, the insurance industry, too, is adopting technology to improve healthcare outcomes. “Innovation and new technologies are revolutionising treatments and driving emergency care, as well as the 'healthcare-at-home' market,” said Jerome.
“The use of wearable technologies in healthcare has gained traction, and the industry has grown phenomenally in the past year. This will significantly contribute to early detection, prevention, and management of key diseases, leading to overall health and wellness,” he added.