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Tue 27 Jan 2009 08:49 AM

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UAE healthcare requires staffing boost - experts

Investment in recruitment and training necessary to ensure quality of healthcare.

A shortfall of healthcare staff across the world could hamper the UAE’s dreams of delivering high quality care to residents and of becoming an international medical tourist hub, experts have said.

The warning came from delegates attending the emirate’s annual Arab Health event that is expected to draw 5,000 delegates from across the region, according to UAE daily The National.

Investment in healthcare construction projects in the region was reported last week to top $14 billion, according to Proleads a company that holds a database on all hospital builds in the Gulf.

However, figures from the World Health Orgnisation show that there is a global shortfall of 4.3 million healthcare personnel.  

The UAE grows very few of its own staff relying heavily on staff from developing countries such as the Philippines, India as well as Western countries including the UK, Australia and South Africa.

Experts at the opening day of the conference said that unless more money was invested in recruiting trained, experienced staff, then the planned new facilities would never reach their potential.

The UAE needed to start focusing on recruiting and training quality healthcare workers. said Dr Mubashar Sheikh, the executive director of WHO’s global health workforce alliance.

“At the moment there is a double negative. It is already short of workers, and we are also losing investment in these workers. Places like the Gulf need to come up with policies that address these issues.”

The large cultural mix of healthcare staff in the UAE also meant there were variations in standards of practice, as a result of the wide ranging training programmes they had undertaken, he added.

The UAE needed to start encouraging more of the local population into the healthcare professions, as well as investing in training staff in provider countries, Dr Sheikh said.

“Countries like the UAE need to start investing in their indigenous people. But also investing internationally in the countries they are drawing all the staff from. A mix of local and migrant workers would be ideal,” he said.

The Dubai Health Authority (DHA) which is in the process of taking over the licensing of all healthcare staff admitted that a proper assessment of professional standards and speciality provision had until now been lacking.

Dr Essa Kazim, head of DHA regulation said: “We are not sure where there are areas of deficiency in terms of actual manpower geographically, within Dubai and in terms of specialities.”

The DHA is in the process of mapping the workforce in emirate.

Meanwhile, the new Nursing and Midwifery Council for the whole UAE is also planning a workforce assessment of nursing staff to detect shortages in general and specilaitist nursing, added Lauren Arnold chief nurse at University Hospital in Dubai Health Care City.

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ziyad 11 years ago

well it will be more n more difficult for sure -on one side these big advisors talk of shortage and on the other hand they make iti ven more difficult to practise here , yes we do ned a standard to practise but i guesss they shoudl remebr we not in the west --and stop copying them have your identity --which this country is loosing