SHARJAH //Two dental clinics, a radiology and laboratory department, a pharmacy and prenatal care are among the services offered at a new healthcare centre the opening of which was announced yesterday.
Al Qarain Healthcare Centre is the latest in a long list of facilities that are expected to cater to the needs of residents in Sharjah.
"Without a doubt, the residents living in the area will benefit from the healthcare centre and the services it offers, which will include premarital testing, vaccinations and a dental clinic," said Dr Hanif Hassan Ali, the Minister of Health.
"The role of this centre is important as it is among the healthcare centres that the ministry is opening ... and it will also reduce the burden on local hospitals. We are expecting that the centre will serve about 70,000 residents who live in the area."
The centre's opening follows last year's criticism of the health ministry by the Federal National Council. The FNC chastised the ministry for what it deemed a shortage of medical services and inadequate health facilities in the Northern Emirates. The FNC also blamed the ministry for failing to prevent chronic diseases such as diabetes, and for its lack of health screening, particularly for cancer.
This year, the ministry has announced several new healthcare centres in the Northern Emirates.
Other healthcare centres are slated to open in Sharjah, including Nizwa Primary Healthcare Centre, Al Batayeh Primary Healthcare Centre and Shees Primary Healthcare Centre.
The Dh7.6 million Al Qarain centre, which opened on a trial basis on June 1, has already served 4,716 visitors in the past six months. It also provides primary health care and health education services.
The central lab there conducts pre-marriage tests, which can pinpoint genetic problems in couples that can be passed on to their children.
Also among the services at the centre are mammogram tests for early breast cancer detection.
"The centre is equipped with the latest, and has six consultation rooms, two treatment rooms, radiology, pharmacy, antenatal, dental as well as vaccinations for children," said Sheikh Mohammed Bin Saqr Al Qassimi, assistant undersecretary of the Ministry of Health and director of the Sharjah Medical District.
Hend al Taweel, project manager at the health ministry, said the new centre in Sharjah was one of the ministry's major accomplishments.
"We decided to place the healthcare centre in an active residential area, so that everyone can benefit from its services," she said.
The health centre was built on a area of 1,425 sq metres. The services building was constructed on an area of 51.8 sq metres.
There are also external features, including car parking areas and horticulture.
Several residents said they were relieved to finally have a healthcare centre. They said it will save them a long drive to other areas.
"We were so happy when they opened the health centre," said Umm Majid, an Emirati. "I came here today with my brother's wife, because my five-month-old nephew is not feeling well."
However, she said, she would like to see the centre extend its working hours; it is open from 7.30am until 2.30pm.
Doctors at the centre acknowledged the significance of their role in the community.
Dr Rana al Basri, a general practitioner at the centre who is from Iraq, said, "There should be a healthcare centre in every area so that the residents can benefit from the services on offer."
Dr Khawla al Madhani, an Emirati general practitioner there, agreed.
"There is a huge percentage of Emirati nationals concentrated in the area, so this centre will have an important role in serving the community."