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Investing in Women’s Health

Following yesterday’s International Women’s Day, a global day which simultaneously celebrates women’s achievements and also marks a call to action for gender equality, I want to highlight the importance of awareness and access to Women’s Healthcare. Working with clients in the Middle East and seeing an increase in hospitals and services dedicated to women and children, I will be focusing on how Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Qatar are investing in, improving upon and advancing Women’s Health in the region.

Increasing awareness of diseases which are prevalent among women, for example breast cancer and cervical cancer, is one way in which countries in the Gulf are working toward improving early detection and treatment and reducing mortality rates. According to Time Out Abu Dhabi, breast cancer is considered to be the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the UAE and one of the biggest killers of women worldwide. If breast cancer is diagnosed earlier, women have a better chance of surviving.

Abu Dhabi is one emirate making strides in the area of early detection and according to Health Authority Abu Dhabi (HAAD) in 2012 only 16% of cases were diagnosed at a late stage compared with 64% in 2007. However there is still much to be done. This is where organizations such as Pink Caravan come in. Pink Caravan is a breast cancer initiative across the UAE which aims to raise awareness for early detection and increase access to screening methods. It organizes awareness campaigns such as the Annual Pink Caravan Ride, a 10-day trek throughout the seven emirates, which began this week. 

In Abu Dhabi, cervical cancer is the second most diagnosed cancer in women after breast cancer. As with breast cancer, early detection and prevention is key. Approximately 99% of cervical cancers are due to infection with Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and HPV infections can be prevented through vaccination. Female students in Grade 11 have been offered the free vaccination since 2008. Meanwhile Dubai Health Authority (DHA) is using a social media campaign, including Twitter and Instagram, to launch #smart_clinic, with the aim to raise awareness about vaccination, screening and prevention of cervical cancer. 

Alongside the drive to increase awareness, countries in the Middle East are opening and expanding healthcare facilities dedicated solely to women and children. One example is our client, Sidra Medical and Research Center in Doha, Qatar, “an ultramodern, all-digital academic medical center”. Sidra will set new standards in patient care, focusing on the health and wellbeing of women and children regionally and globally. Qatar Foundation has funded Sidra with a US $7.9 billion endowment, one of the largest of its kind in the world, and a reflection of its importance to Qatar. Other hospitals specialising in care for women and children are opening and being planned in Bahrain - The Royal Hospital for Women, Abu Dhabi -Danat Al Emarat Hospital, and Dubai - Eleva Women's Hospital.

Countries in the Middle East are recognizing the importance of investing in public health campaigns and ensuring women have access to high-quality healthcare services. I believe the continued strengthening of Women’s Health will result in happier and healthier future generations. With International Women’s Day asking us to do our bit to ensure that the future for girls is bright, equal, safe and rewarding, let’s keep the discussion on Women’s Health going. 

If you are a Women’s Health professional and you are interested in exploring international opportunities, please contact one of our consultants today.
Tagged In: Healthcare
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