Abu Dhabi, UAE: Early diagnosis of chronic diseases is known to ease treatment and reduce long-term treatment costs, but residents are often hard-pressed to discover what diseases may be lurking within. A new health-care facility in the capital hopes to change this by allowing people to undertake a series of tests and screenings that indicate risk factors and first signs of various chronic conditions.
The private health promotion and screening centre is being developed by health-care provider VPS Healthcare, a diversification initiative of LLH Hospital, in association with Seoul-based St May’s Hospital. Visitors will be able to avail of various packages, each of which includes a certain number of tests recommended for the patient’s particular age group, gender and family history.
“Readily available screenings and early detection are the keys to alleviating the prevalence of diseases like diabetes and cancer. This new centre will therefore signal a paradigm shift in the way people view their health,” said Dr Shamsheer Vayalil, managing director of VPS Healthcare.
Similar screening efforts have improved survival rates in South Korea for various chronic diseases, said Dr Hoo Chun, director of the Comprehensive Cancer Institute at St Mary’s Hospital. For example, 65 per cent of people diagnosed with stomach cancer in South Korea do not succumb to the disease within five years, compared to just 28 per cent in the United States.
The 26,500 square metre centre will be located in Abu Dhabi’s Marina Mall, and is expected to open by the end of this year. Senior health executives told Gulf News that they expect the majority of visitors to be aged 30 and above.
“Early detection will also play a major role in reducing the health-care burden on the UAE government. There is currently little awareness here about the benefits of finding about diseases even while they are asymptomatic, or at least knowing about one’s risk factors, and this is why we will also launch educational campaigns geared at residents,” said Dr Ali Al Ali, director of VPS Healthcare.
“The centre will be able to accommodate 50 visitors daily but, initially, we expect to see about 25 visitors every day,” he added.
Each package of tests will be variably priced, and screening costs must be borne by visitors themselves. However, some screenings will be covered by the mandatory Thiqa insurance plan for Emiratis.
Screenings must be scheduled beforehand, but executives believe that the centre’s mall-based location will ensure convenience and accessibility.
While treatment will not be offered, the advantage is that residents can undertake a battery of tests and obtain results within a week.
“In a hospital setting, doing these tests requires referrals and multiple visits before which one can seek treatment. What we will offer is a ready set of screening results that residents can take to their doctors for any further treatment,” Dr Hoo explained.
© Gulf NewsAug 2014