Primary Care Conference in Abu Dhabi showcases the latest in the healthcare sector

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20 June 2019, UAE: In collaboration with the Department of Health Abu Dhabi (DOH), the 2nd Primary Care Conference was held today at at St. Regis Hotel Corniche, with more than 150 physicians, nurses, pharmacists and specialists in primary care and family medicine participating. The conference was organized by United Eastern Medical Services (UEMedical), represented by Danat Al Emarat Hospital for Women & Children, HealthPlus Network of Specialty Centers and Moorfields Eye Hospital Abu Dhabi, and supported by Abu Dhabi Health Data Services (Malaffi).

H.E. Mohamed Hamad Al Hameli, Undersecretary of Department of Health (DOH) emphasized on the importance of primary care services which are considered the main entry towards healthcare services. Primary care plays a vital role in the healthcare delivery system, dealing with the majority of cases before the need for specialized care.

Mr. Mohammed Ali Al Shorafa Al Hammadi, CEO and Managing Director of UEMedical in Abu Dhabi said that primary care centers can deal with 70 to 80% of the cases, which shows the importance of these centers in the healthcare sector which helps in decreasing the pressure on hospitals and specialized clinics.

“In line with DOH’s vision and our group’s vision, we have placed a special focus on primary care with the opening of a network of primary care centers in Abu Dhabi under the name of HealthPlus Family Health Centers, and we managed to get our different facilities licensed as primary care centers, embedding family medicine specialty in our facilities. Patients that require specialized treatments would be referred to specialized centers within our group and to Danat Al Emarat Hospital for Women & Children in Abu Dhabi,” said Mr. Al Shorafa Al Hammadi.

The one-day conference included 12 different presentations on the latest technologies in primary care and treatment using telemedicine in this sector.

Mr. Neil Clark, Acting Director, Investment and Capacity Management Division at Department of Health Abu Dhabi talked about Abu Dhabi’s journey to establish a strategy for primary care, in which he showcased primary care services in Abu Dhabi. He also clarified that there’s a specialized committee for primary care in Abu Dhabi which consists of members of a number of hospitals and family medicine physicians, who work continuously to improve strategies for primary care.

Dr. Samina Ahmed, Chairperson of the Conference, Family Medicine Consultant and Medical Director at HealthPlus Family Centers presented a lecture about the primary care model inAbu Dhabi. She said that international studies show that 75 to 85% of the cases can be treated in primary care centers, and commitment towards this will limit the pressure on emergency departments and specialized clinics in hospitals. This could be achieved by awareness programs and educating the community about the importance and benefits of going to primary care and family medicine physicians as a first step.

Dr. Yousif Alzaabi, Unit Head, Foresight – Strategy at Department of Health Abu Dhabi talked about digital health transformation and telehealth, what are the current trends and what are we on the lookout for. He said, “by having a human-centric approach and a future-oriented thinking, the Department of Health is making huge strides in the digital health domain and taking bold actions to accelerate the adoption of emerging technologies in the digital health realm.

Mr. Erik Koornneef, Vice President, Policy and Compliance, Abu Dhabi Health Data Services “Malaffi” presented a lecture about the importance of Malaffi, which is the first Health Information Exchange in the Middle East, part of the DOH’s strategic priorities, and is a key component in the digital transformation of the healthcare system in Abu Dhabi. He said, “Malaffi will facilitate the meaningful real-time exchange of health information between healthcare providers, healthcare professionals and government authorities across Abu Dhabi. By providing instant access to the patient’s medical history, Malaffi will empower primary care clinicians to coordinate the patient care more effectively and help to increase the quality of care for the patients in Abu Dhabi.”

“A study in Finland found a 16.4% decrease in the number of radiology examinations and an increase in primary care referrals to special care by 43.6% over a five-year period.” Mr. Erik added.

Dr. Mariam Al Wahede, Head of Cardiovascular Department at Abu Dhabi Public Health Centre which follows Department of Health Abu Dhabi talked about the role of primary care in general health, especially in the preventive medicine, emphasizing on the importance of intervention before any medical problems happen, through avoiding risk factors like smoking, obesity and unhealthy diet, and screening programs for early detection of diseases and treatment at the right time to avoid complications. She also said that the Department of Health emphasizes on the quality of medical services and how accessible it is, as well as public health through initiating awareness campaigns to reduce the incidence of cardiovascular diseases and chronic diseases, pointing out that heart diseases are the reason behind the largest percentage of deaths in Abu Dhabi.

Dr. Abdul Razzak Alkaddour, Cardiology and Internal Medicine Consultant at Danat Al Emarat Hospital in Abu Dhabi presented a talk about healthy heart in primary care. During the lecture, he talked about what should a general practitioner know about risk factors connected to heart diseases, like heart attacks and myocardial infarction. These factors include diabetes, smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, obesity and stress. Early detection of these diseases and treating them at the right time prevents complications and heart diseases, especially heart attacks, pointing out that studies shows that35% of the population suffer from high blood pressure (the silent killer).

“Latest scientific researches show that patients with diabetes and high blood pressure who are also smokers are 50% prone to suffer from heart attacks in comparison to healthy people. Also, more than 40% of diabetics are not diagnosed and they don’t even know that they have the disease. Diagnosing these cases at primary care centers can limit complications of diabetes drastically, as patients would receive treatment in early stages,”” Dr. Abdul Razzak added.

Moreover, the conference hosted Dr. Federica Vagnarelli, Pediatrics and Neonatology Specialist at Danat Al Emarat Hospital who talked about diagnosing and treating chronic cough in children, and Ms. Virginie Mebarek, Clinical Psychologist at HealthPlus Diabetes and Endocrinology Center who presented a paper about mental eating disorders. Moreover, Dr. Igor Kozak, Ophthalmology Consultant at Moorfields Eye Hospital Abu Dhabi spoke about diagnosing and treating red eye. Dr. Neha Gami, Obstetrics & Gynecology Specialist at HealthPlus Family Health Center presented spoke about preventive screening for women, while Dr. Cathy Jones, Obstetrics & Gynecology Consultant at Danat Al Emarat Hospital talked about assessing and managing urinary incontinence in primary care. Finally, Ms. Ola Mezher, Dietitian at HealthPlus Centers talked about the role of lifestyle interventions in obesity care and management.

The conference was accredited by Department of Health for 7 CME hours and was organized by Medetarian Conferences Organizing (MCO).