HBMSU’s new study: UAE outperforms four countries with advanced health systems

· Study sees urgent need for multiple research viewpoints to support actions and develop policies ensuring fast response to epidemics and emergencies · UAE one of top 3 countries in terms of health monitoring & detection, regional resiliency, and emergency preparedness along with Switzerland and Germany · Findings highlight healthcare as pillar of future-ready world

Hamdan bin Mohammed Smart University (HBMSU) has revealed the results of its research study titled the ‘Covid-19: UAE Health Systems Response Compared with Selected OECD Nations’, which showed the role of health systems in building a future-ready world in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. A joint research team comprising HBMSU professors, learners and graduates recently conducted the study, in line with the wise leadership’s directives to foster scientific research activities, particularly in the field of healthcare, to ensure the country’s sustainable and comprehensive development.

Benchmarking the UAE’s health system against that of Switzerland, Germany, Italy and the United States, the first-of-its-kind study found that the Emirates has outperformed the four developed nations in terms of effective pandemic response. The UAE’s insightful actions and decisions at the local and global levels have been crucial to its ability to mitigate the pandemic’s health impact and control the spread of the novel coronavirus in its community.

The outcomes of the study also demonstrated the urgent need to present multiple research viewpoints to enable the crafting of the needed policies that will ensure fast response to epidemics and emergencies. This will prevent the emergence of more alarming situations that could affect countries worldwide.

Moreover, the research study highlighted the UAE’s competitive advantages that had enabled the Gulf country to finance and support a healthcare system that is now considered among the world’s best. According to the Deep Knowledge Group, the UAE ranked first in the Arab region and 10th in the world in terms of the effectiveness of COVID-19 patients’ treatment.

The Emirates surpassed Belgium, Finland, Luxemburg, Monaco, Greece and Ireland. The research also underlined the UAE’s achievement as one of the world’s top three countries in terms of health monitoring & detection, regional resiliency, and emergency preparedness along with Switzerland and Germany. This achievement affirms the national efforts in enhancing the access to cost-effective, efficient, and high-quality healthcare services.

Prof. Ahmed Ankit, Dean, Research and Doctoral Studies, HBMSU, said: “Our in-depth study contains comprehensive and objective insights on the UAE’s capability to efficiently and effectively handle the COVID-19 crisis. Based on our findings, the Arab nation provides a global model of health and emergency preparedness enhancement. We attribute the country’s strengths to the policies and vision of our wise leadership that has been turning challenges into opportunities through collaborative efforts that ensure and prioritize the health of everyone.”

“The study had benchmarked the UAE’s response to COVID-19 against the member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). According to the study, Switzerland and Germany placed ahead of the UAE while two other OECD member states, namely Italy (53) and the United States (58), were ranked below the Emirates,” he added.

Prof. Samer Hamidi, Dean of the School of Health and Environmental Studies, HBMSU, said: “Our research study is part of our continued keenness to support, encourage and stimulate scientific research as an important pillar of a leading nation. This landmark research is a testament to the effective collaborative efforts of the country’s health authorities concerned with combating COVID-19. We studied the largest possible samples to achieve accurate results. Following our study, we reiterate the importance of adopting a comprehensive approach to global health crises, such as COVID-19, and equipping our health systems with appropriate technical equipment and trained human resources to efficiently deal with emerging complexities and related clinical and regulatory challenges. Both strategies will ensure the highest levels of health and safety of individuals and society.”

He concluded: “We remain committed to conducting in-depth research to provide the healthcare sector with comprehensive, evidence-based findings. We also aim to consistently support the World Health Organization’s research roadmap and its three core principles of speed, scale, and access. By utilizing our research and scientific resources, we at HBMSU will also help advance public health research, which is of great interest in our country as it is integral to our community-based prevention programs.”

The study’s findings on the UAE’s health systems response during COVID-19 were revealed in a recently concluded special webinar titled ‘How the UAE’s strategy succeeded in dealing with COVID-19.’ Participating in the event were Prof. Samer Hamidi, Dean, School of Health and Environmental Studies, HBMSU; Dr. Aysha Al Khemeiri, Internal Medicine Specialist at Tawam Hospital; Dr. Amal Hussein, Lecturer, the Family and Community Medicine Department, College of Medicine, University of Sharjah; and Hamda Khansaheb, Head of Medical Research Section, Dubai Health Authority’s Department of Medical Education and Research.

The research analyzed and compared all legal, clinical and community safety methodologies against COVID-19 according to a four-pronged framework of detection, containment, treatment, and health security. It identified the factors behind the strong health response of the UAE, which is considered to have one of the most effective health systems in the world.

On the ‘detection’ phase, three useful indicators were applied, namely the number of tests per capita, tests in relation to confirmed deaths, and the number of tests per confirmed case. Three indicators were examined as well to measure the ‘containment’ strategy. These were the death rate per capita, deaths doubling time, and cases per capita. The researchers examined the fatality rate as the indicator to review the ‘treatment’ approach. Finally, the ‘health security’ aspect was measured by examining the efficiency of quarantine, the effectiveness of risk management, regional resiliency, government efficiency in risk management, monitoring and detection, and healthcare preparedness and readiness.

The study reviewed these various aspects to reach a comprehensive and in-depth understanding of several factors such as the nature of transmission of the COVID-19 virus, the susceptibility of different populations in terms of age, sex, ethnicity, and demographics., the effectiveness of social distancing measures in preventing or limiting the spread of the virus, and the role of exposure-induced perturbations in respiratory microbiome and its contributions to COVID-19 susceptibility and disease progression.

The research also examined the role of environmental exposures in impacting individual susceptibility to the COVID-19 virus and the impact of virus-related precautionary measures such as social or physical distancing, public health messages preventing COVID-19’s further spread, environmental exposures, and other relevant human health and safety protocols. The research findings also focused on community education and the development or application of public health strategies concerning environmental exposures and COVID-19, as well as the identification of environmental conditions in relation to the population’s susceptibility to infections.

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