x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Minister orders healthcare review

A review of the standard of healthcare services on offer in the northern emirates has been ordered.

Humaid Al Qutami, the Minister of Health, has ordered a review of the standard of healthcare in the northern Emirates.
Humaid Al Qutami, the Minister of Health, has ordered a review of the standard of healthcare in the northern Emirates.

ABU DHABI // A review of the standard of healthcare services on offer in the northern Emirates has been ordered by Humaid al Qutami, the Minister of Health. Mr Qutami has set up a committee to examine hospitals and health centres, looking at quality of care, services offered and the cost of treatments in the public and private sectors. Headed by Dr Mahmoud Mohamed Fikri, the committee will also look at health services in Abu Dhabi and Dubai to see how they manage their own systems.

The Ministry of Health (MoH) wants hospitals and clinics to stick more closely to the rules and regulations governing the health system with the aim of streamlining services. Dr Fikri said the results of the study would help to determine the budget, and would also be passed to those looking into a possible mandatory health insurance system. "This will be an in-depth study and very detailed," said Dr Fikri. "We want to have all the information available to us.

"Hospitals and other health facilities are like cars, they may have the same specifications but the quality is different. You need to try them before deciding which ones are best. "We have to look at this from all the different angles. We want to know exactly what is going on in the health system." The MoH has full jurisdiction over all the emirates except Abu Dhabi and Dubai, which have their own health authorities, and is responsible for about 14 hospitals and more than 60 primary healthcare centres.

The committee will consist of about 10 ministry members, who will look into different areas of the health service, including diagnosis, nursing and emergency care. This year, the ministry announced a five-year strategy to try to improve healthcare services for those living in the northern Emirates. This included shifting power away from regulatory bodies and towards hospitals, which would become responsible for their own budgets, staffing and policies. However, the ministry has not yet put the measures in place.

Dr Fikri said the committee would look at the capital and Dubai for examples of how money was spent to create the best systems. "This will help us decide our budget," he said. "We will see where money needs to be spent, where there are gaps. "It is a very big project and it will take some time. We want to know exactly how to improve things and run things in the best possible way in line with the strategy."

The ministry has toughened the inspection process for pharmacies, giving officials more authority to shut down medical facilities in the northern Emirates if they are in breach of the regulations. "This committee will be very important in looking at where the services are not performing well enough and where we can make changes to help," Dr Fikri said. "We are very keen to get going on this. We have set a preliminary time frame of two months, but I expect the results to be collated by the end of the year so we can start planning the budget."

The Federal National Council recently passed a law to set up the Emirates Health Authority (EHA), which would manage the public health system. Strategy and long-term projects would remain the responsibility of the ministry, while the EHA would be in charge of management. @Email:munderwood@thenational.ae