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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 September 2018

The quest for a healthy world is at the heart of the UAE's philanthropic efforts 

The Sheikh Khalifa Stroke Institute honours the UAE’s proud record in medical research

Outside "national security issues", the UAE's ambassador to Washington told The National, "healthcare is our next primary focus, as foundation for a healthy society.”
Outside "national security issues", the UAE's ambassador to Washington told The National, "healthcare is our next primary focus, as foundation for a healthy society.”

Stroke is the third leading cause of death worldwide. According to statistics published by the World Health Organisation, ischaemic heart disease and stroke claimed a combined total of 15 million lives in 2015 alone. In the US, where someone has a stroke every 40 seconds and 140,000 die annually as a result of stroke. In the UAE, someone suffers a stroke every hour and most of the victims are under the age of 45. The spike in stroke-related deaths and disabilities is relatively recent, a consequence of obesity, stress and poor lifestyle choices. Last week, the Government announced its decision to fund cutting-edge stroke research and clinical care.

The Sheikh Khalifa Stroke Institute at the Johns Hopkins hospitals, which will open this spring in Abu Dhabi and Baltimore, will enable scientists to apply research and advances in biomedical engineering, artificial intelligence, neurosurgery and precision medicine to diagnose and treat stroke patients. The UAE government’s $50 million gift to the project, the largest ever donation to a stroke-specific initiative, will help stroke patients while creating new avenues for scientific collaboration between the US and this country in healthcare. As Yousel Al Otaiba, the UAE’s ambassador to Washington, told The National following the institute’s launch event in New York on Thursday, “outside national security issues, healthcare is [the UAE’s] primary focus, as foundation for a healthy society.”

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As with international aid, this institute is a symbol of the this country’s commitment to aiding and improving the world beyond its own shores. Nor is this the first time that the UAE has collaborated with Johns Hopkins. The Sheikh Zayed Cardiovascular and Critical Care Tower at Johns Hopkins, which opened in 2012, has done pioneering work in elevating care for patients of heart ailments. Beyond Johns Hopkins, the UAE also has important partnerships in healthcare with Susan Komen Breast Cancer Foundation and with the Cleveland Clinic. As Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York, pointed out on Thursday to The National, though the UAE “is a small country, it has an impact much larger than its size”, as affirmed, yet again, by the Sheikh Khalifa Stroke Institute.

Ultimately, stroke prevention is the best method of arresting mortality rates, and the UAE has been at the forefront of this fight, introducing a "sin tax" on tobacco and sugary products last year. Mr Bloomberg, who waged a successful political campaign to introduce his own version of the tax as mayor of New York, endorsed the UAE’s initiative to “sway young people from smoking and becoming obese.” The tax, he said, “shows the government actually cares” about saving people’s lives. It is this quest for a healthy society that is at the heart of the Sheikh Khalifa Stroke Institute.

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