x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Health and population mapped to bolster emergency response

The National Crisis and Emergency Management Authority plans to map the UAE's health facilities and population centres as part of its efforts to bolster the country's ability to respond rapidly and effectively to any national emergency.

ABU DHABI // The National Crisis and Emergency Management Authority plans to map the UAE's health facilities and population centres as part of its efforts to bolster the country's ability to respond rapidly and effectively to any national emergency. "We are in the process of creating a database of important information that we can use to plan jointly with other agencies to face any emergencies or crises that might affect the country," said Mohammed Khalfan al Rumaithi, the authority's general manager.

The database is part of the UAE's first-ever national emergency plan, expected to be ready next year. Once it is complete it will be considered for approval as an emergency law. The database would quickly provide information on population distribution, and how best to deploy emergency services in the event of a major incident, said Mr Salim al Shair, the general manager of the General Information Authority, the Government's chief provider of information technology services and research.

"For instance, take the number of cases that have H1N1 in the country," said Mr al Shair. "We can see it on a map [using the database] and find out where it occurs more frequently. Then we can arrange for additional health care, or check exit and entry points to that area, or the medicine they need." An effective response, Mr al Rumaithi said, required "comprehensive information about the place, every small and major detail".

The database will use information fromfederal agencies and ministries and enable the authority to ensure the relevant authorities receive the resources they need quickly. "Because we also have experience interacting with local departments, we can also provide information that's only available on a local level at the moment," said Mr al Shair. The authority said the database would eventually be linked to a planned network of its operations centres around the UAE that would disseminate information.

"It's a huge programme that we hope to complete within a few years, so we can have operations centres for the agency around the country," said Mr al Rumaithi. Even with an established plan in place, it had been a challenge for even the most advanced countries to respond adequately when disasters happened, said Mr al Rumaithi. "Other countries took years to reach that level and still face problems. It won't be easy," Mr al Shair added.

@Email:kshaheen@thenational.ae