Asking a sick person to travel 120 kilometres for a check-up may not be the most effective form of health-care. Or at least that is the opinion of physicians with the Red Crescent Authority who will be opening a temporary hospital to service the 15,000 residents of Al Marfa'a next week. As The National reports today, the project is intended to provide basic health services that are normally unavailable in the region. Specialists in paediatrics, dermatology, oncology and internal medicine will offer screenings and on-site treatment, while more serious cases will be referred to hospital.
More than that, it is part of an overall effort to change how health-care works in the UAE. "The most important part of this campaign is educating the people, because you don't know how many patients you will be able to help," said Dr Ibrahim Suleiman, the head of medical care at the RCA. In a country where medical care is improving by leaps and bounds, making sure that everyone keeps up is one of the greatest challenges. In the capital, top-tier medical facilities are being established and Emiratis are required to undergo a basic level of preventative care.
Of course, people living in the Western Region, not to mention other emirates, deserve an equal level of care. That is a challenge for public health, not just on-the-spot medical attention. Efforts to include more residents in the health system not only attend to their immediate needs, but also contribute to a national health database that will provide a baseline for years to come. As with a similar initiative that was carried out in Dalma last year, the Red Crescent initiative in Al Marfa'a will target breast cancer among other chronic diseases - including lifestyle-related issues like smoking and addiction. The country's third biggest cause of death, cancer, is at last being given the attention that it deserves.
Prevention, or at least very early detection, is key in fighting these diseases. It is a lesson that the Red Crescent hopes to impart to residents of Al Marfa'a and beyond through its efforts. Physicians are leading the way in this latest project. In order for it to be truly successful, residents need to show an equal enthusiasm to make sure they undergo regular check-ups. It is their health on the line.