Photo has been used for illustrative purposes. File / Reuters
Imran Mojib, Special Correspondent
Healthcare experts have stressed that this is the time to embrace emerging healthcare technologies such as telemedicine. Participating in the Advance Health webinar organised by the Dubai Science Park to address the COVID-19 pandemic, they noted that as an international business and events hub, the UAE has robust procedures to manage health and safety and respond swiftly to outbreaks of infectious diseases.
Dubai Science Park, a science- and healthcare-focused business community, engaged with experts to provide its community with a platform to remotely exchange expertise and knowledge. The inaugural webinar was organised in partnership with Synapse Medical and Connect Communications.
The participants pointed out that international players are working tirelessly to improve testing and increase clinical trials to develop a vaccine and a treatment for COVID-19. Business partners in Dubai Science Park are contributing to this global effort, with Agiomix providing COVID-19 testing kits in the UAE.
The panel discussion explored why preventative measures such as social distancing are important to flatten the curve in order to slow down the spread of COVID-19 globally.
Moderated by Marwan Abdulaziz Janahi, Managing Director of Dubai Science Park, the panel featured Dr Fatima Bin Shabib – Head of Policy Development at Dubai Health Authority, Dr Immanuel Moonesar – Associate Professor in Health Administration and Policy at the Mohammed Bin Rashid School of Government, and Wael Elamin – Consultant Clinical Microbiologist and Infection Control Doctor at King’s College Hospital Dubai.
Marwan Abdulaziz said, “At Dubai Science Park, the health and safety of our business partners is our upmost priority during these exceptional times, which makes this instalment of Advance Health all the more important. Sharing best practices in line with guidelines set by the relevant authorities is crucial for us to work together to flatten the curve so the UAE can continue to provide best-in-class care to patients.”
He added, “Now is absolutely the right time to embrace emerging healthcare technologies such as telemedicine, apps and devices that are widely available so people can use them in line with guidelines issued by the relevant authorities.”
Dr Fatima Bin Shabib added, “It is a misconception that an individual below the age of 35 should not sanitise because you can still be a carrier. So far, the research shows that the course of the virus is not very clear. Some people are asymptomatic. Some people are getting a mild upper respiratory tract infection, such as sneezing or a runny nose. Some people are developing more serious complications where they require critical care. Therefore, if you are a healthy individual you need to sanitise, you definitely need to take measures to protect yourself and prevent yourself from carrying the virus from one person to another.”
Dr Immanuel Moonesar stressed that the World Health Organisation has mandated its 193 members to set up national health security action plans for dealing with outbreaks and pandemics. A couple of years ago, a planning and risk mitigation exercise was carried out by several stakeholders including the Dubai Health Authority in collaboration and the UAE Ministry of Health & Prevention, and the scenario was how to manage contagious diseases during Expo 2020 Dubai, which will welcome millions of people. It has been pre-empted and we were ready as a country to respond.
Wael Elamin added, “The healthcare system in equipped to deal with this situation. In the UAE the median age of the population is around 33, reducing our need for intensive care beds, unlike Europe which is primarily a much older population. This proves that each country faces its own unique set of challenges when battling COVID-19. It is important to control flow to the hospitals in order to provide care to patients that are still coming in with other emergencies.”
Marwan Abdulaziz Janahi concluded the digital Advance Health session by advising the general public to stay safe and adopt self-distancing measures in line with protocols set by relevant government departments to prevent the spread of the virus.