It’s Time to Focus on Preventive Healthcare

It’s Time to Focus on Preventive Healthcare

July 16, 2018 at 02:07pm

By Maher Abouzeid, President & CEO – GE Healthcare, Eastern Growth Markets

One of the major pillars of any successful healthcare system is a well-structured prevention regime that includes detecting the early warning signs of disease and provide timely intervention.   

Not only good for society, the move from curative to preventive/predictive care has a proven economic impact. Take breast cancer for example. Early detection at stage I means a nearly 100% survival rate versus 22% when cancer is detected at stage IV. Plus treatment at stage I is nearly half the cost of stage IV. 

In our part of the world, we still see the bulk of healthcare spending directed towards primary and tertiary care, with very limited budget allocated for prevention. However, the interest and will are there. Take for instance the UAE’s decision to rebrand the Ministry of Health to become the Ministry of Health & Prevention (MOHP).

The move reflects a clear focus on promoting health and well-being across the Emirates. But in the absence of a dedicated budget to fund prevention programs, the efforts will continue to be sporadic with no clear impact.

A transformation will require bold moves from the government to allocate dedicated budget and resources behind prevention. It can begin here in Dubai, the most vibrant and innovative city in the world. 

What is preventing a combined effort between the Dubai Health Authority and Dubai Municipality to impose an extra 10 dirhams tax on every shisha (hubbly-bubbly) to fund the creation of dedicated public “Special Gyms” for kids between the ages of 12 and 16?

Such facilities, furnished with the right equipment and supported by experienced trainers, would serve these children, who not usually allowed in regular gyms and are too old for play areas.

Too often today, these kids are spending their time chasing villains in Fortnite & Black Ops on PlayStation while binging on pizza, chips and soft drinks!  

Let’s dream even bigger. Can you imagine what the MOHP could do if the RTA dedicates the proceeds of Dubai’s Salik toll system from just one day per month to fund prevention campaigns? Initiatives could run from a Drinking Water Day to Healthy Hearts and Diabetes programs.  

We are not short of creative ideas—just the budgets to fund them. 

There is no doubt that the private sector has a responsibility to pitch in and support the public sector in the quest for prevention. Medical, pharmaceutical and technology companies, alongside healthcare providers and payers must work hand-in-hand with the public sector to create and fund a robust country-wide prevention program.  

Remember, good health will breed happiness – let’s make it happen! 

Read more stories here about GE Healthcare in the UAE and across the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey region.

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