Abu Dhabi // As Abu Dhabi's network of medical facilities continues to expand rapidly, new design and construction standards are beginning to make themselves felt.
Adeeb al Zaabi, an official of the Health Authority - Abu Dhabi (HAAD) said yesterday that 25 projects have now won approval under the new Healthcare Facility Design Standards.
These new rules cover not only facility design and construction but also the pre-qualification of design consultants.
From now on all new hospitals, rehabilitation centres, medical centres and the like in Abu Dhabi will have to comply with the detailed new standards in order to be licenced, and the refurbishing of existing facilities will also be covered.
"These standards are going to apply and be implemented on the new facilities, while a team of inspectors will help the old ones to implement what they can of it or what they can modify," said Mr al Zaabi, who is manager of health facility licensing at HAAD.
He explained that over a year ago, HAAD sought the assistance of consultants who were then able to review building plans for certain facilities. As a result of that work, the standards developed then are now being adopted and implemented.
There are over 1,200 healthcare facilities in Abu Dhabi and, Mr al Zaabi said, more than 100 were set up in Abu Dhabi in 2010 alone, a growth rate of roughly eight per cent.
"This rate compares well to the growth in population and economic development," he went on.
"The standards will be used for the evaluation of applications for healthcare facility licensing as well as inspections.
"Some pre-existing international standards have been referenced in these standards," Mr al Zaabi explained.
"However, the specific and unique requirements override any other standards," he continued.
The five aspects of the new standards provide detailed information for numerous and varied aspects of the design of facilities.
The new guidelines will also have an important role to play in educating new consultants coming into the field, said Aladin Niazmand, global director of TAHPI, a health-facility planning specialist firm.
"HAAD has now provided the first edition of the comprehensive new ... guidelines Ö with specific customisation to the UAE," he said.
"The new guidelines will be updated and reviewed periodically in response to new operational models of healthcare, technology and public expectation."
Mr Niazmand said designers are encouraged to innovate and exceed the requirements, but while some things are optional others are not.
For example, he said, standards on matters such as accessibility around beds and ergonomic dimensions, will be mandatory in all cases.
Overall, the new standards are expected to be "a valuable source of knowledge for the whole healthcare industry, not just in Abu Dhabi but across the region," added Mr Niazmand.
The new guidelines, including over 1,000 files, are on HAAD's website and can be downloaded, free, from www.haad.ae/hfg.