The UAE leads the way in digital health technology adoption and signs multiple deals on Big Data, mHealth, telehealth and genomics at the Arab Health Congress.
The United Arab Emirates is considered one of the leading adopters of digital health services and technology not just in the region but all over the world.
Its commitment to embrace the digital health industry has been on full display at the Arab health Exhibition & Congress 2014 at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre.
As part of its Vision 2021 Project to provide world-class healthcare to Emiratis, both local and expatriate, the UAE has been investing heavily in developing nationwide infrastructure to support and integrate digital health services and technology into its healthcare ecosystem.
Keeping up with its digital health drive, the UAE inked deals and memoranda of understanding with various companies that provide Big Data, remote monitoring, mHealth, gene testing and other related digital health services.
The UAE’s Ministry of Health signed a two-year agreement with telecommunications providers Etisalat and du to provide mutually beneficial, sustainable and viable mHealth products and services that include:
- Patient health education
- Remote patient diagnosis and monitoring
- Medical video conferencing
- Telehealth systems and services to support patients suffering from diabetes, cancer, obesity control, respiratory diseases and cardiovascular disorders.
Abdul Rahman Al Owais, the UAE’s Minister for Health:
"The country is facing a major public health challenge with non-communicable diseases, such as diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular diseases, and this partnership represents our commitment to fight these diseases by delivering high quality mobile health (mhealth) services to all Emiratis and expats regardless of location"
The UAE is also investing heavily in Big Data applications. Speaking at the Big Data Conference held in the sidelines of the Arab Health Congress, Dr Abdul Rezzak Hamzeh, Senior Scientific Coordinator, Centre for Arab Genomic Studies, Dubai, UAE, said:
“A working example of using Big Data in healthcare in the GCC is through the CTGA (Catalogue for Transmission Genetics in Arabs) database at the Centre for Arab Genomic Studies in Dubai. The CTGA database is the largest ethnic-based genetic database worldwide and it currently hosts a collection of more than 1,600 records of genetic disorders and their related genes. These records provide good quality coverage of both clinical and molecular aspects of the genetic disorder, and more importantly they offer comprehensive and updated coverage of research results on these disorders in Arab populations.”
In the private sector, Star Metropolis Clinical Laboratories, a subsidiary company of the Arabian Healthcare Group signed an agreement with the global gene testing leader BGI Health to:
- Share genetic resources of the population
- Pursue joint research projects and offer sequencing-based clinical applications.
The agreement covers the UAE as well as other countries in the Middle East and the Northern Africa region.
Speaking at the Big Data Conference, Brian de Francesca, the chief executive of the Dubai-based mHealth company Ver2 said that:
Digital health services and technology offers the UAE a chance to leapfrog over the US and the UK and lead the world in healthcare.
According to Brian de Francesca,
“If the UAE focused on moving care outside the walls of traditional settings, such as hospitals and doctors’ offices, and adopted mobile health (mhealth) then it could become a global leader. The problem is that the US and the UK have 150 years of health infrastructure legacy that you have to untangle. When you try to put something new and different into an infrastructure like this it rejects it. The UAE has the advantage as a young and growing country to embrace a different approach to health care.”
In other news, the Dubai Healthcare City signed two memoranda of understanding with technology giants Siemens and GE Healthcare on medical education, training and healthcare infrastructure modernization.