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Monday, June 28, 2010

75% Dubai workers lack health coverage

BY PMA RASHEED
The Gulf Today, 28 June 2010

A striking difference has been noticed between low and high income groups of Dubai residents in regards to enjoying the benefits of quality and transparent healthcare services in the emirate, reveals a survey.
The findings of the first comprehensive Dubai Household Health Survey (DHHS) have ignited plans of the local health authority to tailor its existing policies to meet the population’s healthcare requirements in an evidence-based manner.
The DHHS, reaching out to the people in the age group of 18 to 59 years living and working in the emirate to understand their health and health care needs, has been carried out recently by Dubai Health Authority (DHA) in tandem with the Dubai Statistics Centre (DSC).
The survey covered a total of 5,000 households in Dubai, including 2,500 UAE nationals and 2,500 non-UAE nationals, among whom 700 respondents were labourers, with a response rate of 97.6 per cent, says a senior health official.
Dr Eldaw Abdalla Suliman, Head of Research and Performance Section at the DHA, said that preliminary results of the DHHS unveil a serious assessment of the present health status of Dubai and raised concerns over a number of related issues.
“The survey revealed that 75 per cent of the low-income expatriates of Dubai lack health insurance coverage and the rate is 20 per cent among the high-income group expats. Meanwhile, about 95 per cent of the UAE nationals have been covered by health insurance schemes,” he pointed out.
“The prevalence of diabetes is at 16 per cent among the citizens living in Dubai, while it’s eight per cent among the expatriate communities. The prevalence has stunning variations among diabetics of different age groups,” added Dr Suliman.
“The prevalence of hypertension among citizens is at 22.26 per cent, while it’s only at 2.75 per cent among the expats. The habit of smoking grips 8.62 Emiratis in Dubai, and 13 per cent of the non-nationals. Fifteen per cent of the population in Dubai faces risks of passive smoking, with 11.44 per cent of Emirati passive smokers and it’s 16 per cent when it comes to expats,” he elaborated.
Laila Al Jassmi, CEO of Health Policy and Strategy Sector at the DHA, said, “The DHHS has an unprecedented assessment of the healthcare needs of Dubai’s nationals, residents and visitors. The detailed information on their health issues obtained during the survey will be analysed over the next 18 months,” she added.
“The study will help the DHA prioritise the emirate’s health issues and develop effective and long-term solutions to address them. The authority has to improve public access to health care services, and implement better policies to tackle chronic diseases,” she added.
“The DHHS gathered data on several health modules of strategic significance. It is a solid evidence for decision making and providing baseline estimates for the health sector’s major key performance indicators,” noted Al Jassmi.
Afaf Ahmed Bu Assaiba, Director of Population and Social Statistics at the Dubai Statistics Centre, said that the surveyors randomly selected households across the emirate and obtained detailed responses.
“The issues ranged from household expenditure on health, health coverage, overseas healthcare, fertility and childhood mortality. Questions also related to their overall physical health including daily physical activities, health service coverage and chronic conditions,” she elaborated.
“The respondents have been quizzed on their experiences of symptoms for diseases such as arthritis, blood cholesterol, blood lipids, diabetes, insulin resistance, asthma, blood clots, stroke and brain hemorrhage,” she added.
“The questionnaire also enquired whether the respondents have visited a healthcare practitioner for the same, medical tests and hospitalisation they have undertaken over the last 12 months, reason for the hospitalisation, surgeries undertaken during the period, satisfaction level with the healthcare services provided, as well as medications they are currently taking,” noted Assaiba.
According to her, a series of queries related to mental health as well as injuries like road traffic damages to the body have also been raised to the respondents.

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