Abu Dhabi, UAE: Health professionals spoke out in support of the restructure for the Ministry of Health, but hoped the changes would be gradual.
The new Ministry of Health and Protection of Society will focus on disease prevention, with the creation of an independent body to oversee and manage public hospitals.
Dr Iyad Hussein, assistant clinical professor at the Hamdan bin Mohammed College of Dental Medicine in Dubai, hoped that the ministry’s responsibilities would be quickly spelt out.
“As a new entity, the new ministry may face an initial struggle,” Dr Hussein said. “People don’t accept change overnight so there will be a gradual realisation of the new ministry, its role and its functionality.
“The clarity of its jurisdiction should be made to avoid confusion. It is important that the new ministry becomes the overriding umbrella of all health authorities in the UAE, and all agencies and bodies that deal with protection of society.”
He said linking health to protection and prevention was a “commendable step for building a secure future of any state”.
“It is a good thing that there will be a renewed focus on prevention. Society pays a hefty bill for dealing with health matters in all sections of the population.
“This bill is not only financial, but also in terms of human capital, time off work, effects on family members, enjoyment of life and care for children.”
Dr Naeem Tareen, chief cardiologist at the American Heart Centre in Dubai Health Care City, also supported the restructuring.
“In my view, this is an excellent idea,” Dr Tareen said.
“In fact, the Government should privatise the medical facilities or start public-private partnerships. Like this, they will be able to save lot of money without jeopardising health quality.”
Dr Aref Chehal, an oncologist at Mafraq Hospital in Abu Dhabi, said development of services should be discussed with doctors rather than consultancies.
“The health system here has been moved forward a lot,” Dr Chehal said. “But sometimes when you want to design a plan for the people who work in this country for a long time, information and opinion is taken from a consultant company.
“They put together a plan based on this and when they want to put the plan into reality, it will not always work in practice.
“If they asked us where to build a new oncology centre or prostate cancer centre, for example, we could show where it would be well served based on demographics and the information we have on our patients.
“An adviser from outside the country would not have that information. We would like more consultation. It would help to get the best work out of us.”
Dr Shamsheer Vayalil, managing director of VPS Healthcare in Abu Dhabi, said he hoped the new ministry would focus on preventing illness, particularly non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure.
“We don’t want people to just come to hospital when they are sick, but [also] to get information,” Dr Vayalil said. Overall, he said he supported the changes.
“When oil prices are low, there is always an opportunity to build and clean up. These are all great measures that will provide better services to people,” he said.
© The NationalFeb 2016