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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 18 November 2018

Better health insurance and home care for senior Emiratis under new policy

Many senior Emiratis say they are in need of health insurance as their pension is insufficient for their medical bills

Details of a policy to provide senior Emiratis with the services they need were revealed by the Ministry of Community Development on Tuesday.

Hessa Buhumaid, the minister responsible for managing the 26 services, said the most significant change will be to ensure comprehensive health insurance, including home visits if necessary, is provided to all retired Emiratis who need it.

“Health insurance is very important,” she said. “We know that some senior Emiratis have health insurance and others might not be covered. That’s why we started by working directly with organisations that are responsible for health insurance to make sure everyone is covered. It requires collaboration and lots of initiatives.”

The ministry already runs medical home visits to senior Emiratis in Sharjah, but those living in other emirates called on the government to make the option available nationwide.

“If any senior Emiratis want check-ups on a weekly basis we provide this service for them. We started in one emirate and are expanding now. Through this, we get to know more about our seniors and their families. We also build our collaboration and relationship with them,” Ms Buhumaid said.

Ensuring every Emirati over the age of 60 has access to the services they need requires an expansion of the database managed by the ministry.

“[Senior Emiratis] would be on our database so we would go and provide services for them,” Ms Buhumaid said.

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On Tuesday,

the minister unveiled four strategic goals, seven pillars and 26 initiatives that will be implemented under the new policy. Some of the initiatives existed and will be expanded on and others are entirely new.

A financial protection programme, Hemaya, for older Emiratis is one of the initiatives. Under the Sukoon programme, the ministry will ensure houses for senior Emiratis are built to protect them.

The Sehati programme focuses on health insurance and increasing a fleet of mobile medical units to reach retired Emiratis who cannot frequently visit hospitals for care.

The Wekaya programme is another health-related initiative that focuses on preventing medical issues commonly experienced by older people.

The Khebra programme will attract qualified senior Emiratis who can contribute to society, while another programme will feature successful stories. Under this programme, senior Emiratis will be encouraged to mentor youth and pass on their knowledge and experience on to the next generation.

The policy also includes a cultural, social and sports tournament for senior Emiratis.

The policy aims to ensure the safety and rights of senior Emiratis in the community, encourage joint work to provide competitive services in many areas, develop new channels for knowledge sharing and to increase the participation of generations and promote a supportive environment for an active life for senior Emiratis.

The National Policy for Senior Emiratis focuses on seven pillars that include health care, community involvement, effective civic participation, infrastructure and transport, financial stability, security and safety and quality of future life.

Ms Buhumaid said that the clock has already begun ticking for the ministry to implement all the services required under the policy but they would prioritise the most important ones.

“We have already started implementing the National Policy for Senior Emiratis. We have 26 initiatives right now.

“There are specific priorities for some of them, they will start soon, others will take a little time ... a few months.

“There is no deadline for this policy to end,” she said “It’s a way of life.”

One of the main tasks is to ensure complete co-operation with all concerned departments.

"We need to establish a strong direct connection with everyone who provides services for our seniors. That is one of our priorities," Ms Bu Humaid said.

She said the policy would greatly benefit older Emiratis but also the younger generation who stand to gain so much from their experiences.

"We are talking about a lot of issues that are based on bridging the gaps between the generations … getting our seniors to be in direct contact with the youth and children. Even in our working environment, what are the best solutions and what kind of values need to be instilled in us? There is so much our seniors can give back," she said.

"They have been through a lot and have been successful. They must have many lessons and stories. We want to capture these and make sure they are preserved.”