Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 29 May 2020

UAE health chiefs concerned by spurious health influencers and 'get-well quick' advice

A Dubai health conference was told that unauthorised information can prove a health hazard

A leading official has warned of the dangers of health advice from unqualified sources.
A leading official has warned of the dangers of health advice from unqualified sources.

Authorities in the UAE vowed to launch a crackdown on reckless social media users spreading potentially hazardous health advice.

Officials said there was a vital need to tighten regulations to prevent self-styled experts, influencers and even doctors from dishing out a dodgy diagnosis online.

Dr Amin Hussain Al Amiri, assistant undersecretary for public health policy at the Ministry of Health and Prevention, said unqualified health tips can have stark consequences for members of the public.

Addressing the Middle East Healthcare Social Media Summit in Dubai, Dr Al Amiri outlined plans to tackle an issue of growing concern within the health sector.

He explained the threat to public health is posed not only by unqualified social media users but by doctors offering advice on matters outside of their expertise.

He cited examples of doctors sparking fears by sharing rumours about unproven harmful effects of vaccines and one case of a woman suffering burns after being told how to whiten her face by a fashion guru.

Strict guidelines will urge health professionals to only provide information which is verified and backed up with evidence.

Medical experts have previously spoken out over the dangers caused by increasing self-diagnosis in the social media age.

Dr Ahmed Abdelmalek, from Kuwait, told the Sharjah Ramadan Majlis earlier this year that many people were going online to identify their ailments and finding their own medication rather than seeking the support of trained healthcare professionals.

During the majlis, entitled Common Medical Misconceptions, Between Right and Wrong, Dr Abdelmalek said online tutorials and self-styled experts are no replacement for qualified medics.

"A qualified and trained physician takes a number of factors into account while examining and treating a patient, something that online experts and unknown sources cannot do," he said.

Dr Abdel Nasser bin Salem, an adviser at the Ministry of Health, called for action to be taken against those professing to provide "get-well quick" solutions online.

Updated: December 10, 2019 01:13 PM

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