UAE: Award-winning Emirati doctor Ibtesam Al Bastaki has played a vital part in helping to keep hundreds of thousands of visitors safe as they touch down in the UAE, and wants more locals to follow in her steps.
Dr Bastaki worked for the Government for 15 years before switching to the private sector in 2014 to work at VPS Healthcare, caring for patients in Dubai and the Northern Emirates.
Her work creating an emergency response strategy at Dubai International Airport has reduced by half the number of deaths of passengers who fell ill on flights into the country, or inside the terminal.
First-responder units are stationed at the airport to reduce response times. Revamping the airport’s health structure through her role as medical director in emergency and disaster management is her proudest achievement, and she is now calling for more Emiratis to join her in the medical profession.
“After a long flight, it is not uncommon for people to arrive at the airport with a heart or lung condition,” Dr Bastaki says.
“We did have cases and managed to increase survival rates by between 45 and 50 per cent because our people were able to give emergency care very quickly.
“The statistics showed how important it is to have such an emergency plan in place.
“We were the first airport to be internationally accredited because we could meet the medical requirements of a response centre. I am very proud of the work there.”
Dr Bastaki was commended for her airport work with a Dubai Government Excellence Award in 2011. Other accolades include the Dubai Government Excellence Award for Distinguished Employee in 2010 and a Sheikh Rashid Award in 2008.
Dr Bastaki graduated from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) and, in 2004, passed her Arab Board in Family Medicine exams.
She went on to secure her masters in healthcare management from RCSI.
She was enrolled at the Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Leadership Programme from 2007 to 2009, and is a member of the governance council at the International Hospital Federation.
Dr Bastaki also heads the Jury Committee for Special Needs for Princess Haya.
She is passionate about attracting more UAE nationals into the field of medicine.
Currently, fewer than 20 per cent of doctors in Dubai and about 10 per cent of doctors in Abu Dhabi are Emirati.
“The challenge for all of us in the health profession here now is to encourage more Emiratis into the medical profession,” she says.
“The preference is often to go into the IT industry, or real estate, banking and other commercial sectors.
“Proper health education is a huge asset to any successful country. If there is no proper infrastructure to serve your people, it can create problems. It is important to have Emirati nurses and doctors working in the UAE.
“There are Emirati students learning overseas.
“We just hope they want to come back to the UAE to work to serve the people here.”
© The NationalJun 2016