HRH Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, wife of HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, Monday 26 January 2009 delivered the opening keynote address to Leaders in Healthcare, one of 18 conferences that make up the Arab Health Congress.

The event includes conferences such as the Healthcare Management Forum, ME Urology Update and ME International Cardiovascular Conference.

Arab Health, which runs until 29 January 2009 at Dubai International Exhibition and Convention Centre, is the Middle East’s biggest gathering of medical and healthcare professionals.

Speaking of the challenges facing healthcare, Princess Haya warned that the global financial crisis would have profound implications for health and social welfare programmes and the poor and impoverished could be the first to suffer. ‘We cannot claim we are achieving leadership in medical advances if more than nine million children in 2007 died before reaching the age of five,’ she added. Present at the conference was HE Humaid Al Qtami, Minister of Health, HE Qadi Al Mroushed, Director General of Dubai Health Authority and other delegations.

Princess Haya quoted HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum: ‘Unlike others, we are not content to settle for what was accomplished in the past, because life doesn’t stop.’ She added: ‘I cannot think of a more appropriate time for his words to appeal as we look towards 2020 and 2030.’

Following the speech, Her Royal Highness toured the exhibition area which attracts regional and international healthcare professionals. She visited Dubai Health Authority stand and listened to an overview on of Sheikha Al Jalila Children Hospital model.

Princess Haya, a vocal advocate of humanitarian causes, has taken a high profile public role speaking on public welfare issues in the UAE and the Middle East. Princess Haya is also chair of Dubai’s International Humanitarian City and is a United Nations Messenger of Peace.

‘We have been both delighted and honoured by the presence of HRH Princess Haya,’ said Jessica Sutherland, General Manager of IIR Middle East, organisers of Arab Health events.

More than 50,000 medical and healthcare professionals are taking part in Arab Health which is by far the biggest gathering of its kind in the region showcasing the latest medical technologies and clinical research. It has been a sell-out in terms of exhibitor space, say the organisers.

Arab Health is backed by the Ministry of Health of the United Arab Emirates, Dubai Health Authority and the Health Authority of Abu Dhabi.

Photo: HRH Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, wife of HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai at the opening.

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SPEECH BY HRH PRINCESS HAYA BINT AL HUSSEIN
Arab Health – Leaders in Health
Convention Center, January 26th 2009

Your Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a privilege to address such a unique gathering of scholars and members of the medical community. Many of you have traveled long journeys to join us here, and it gives me great pleasure to welcome you to Dubai.

Two years ago I was given the honor of addressing this forum and chose to highlight the importance of supporting a patient-centered healthcare system, one that focuses on acute and long-term care, and prioritizes preventative medicine, public health and research as means to achieve excellence in healthcare services. At the risk of stating the obvious, while this remains true, the healthcare system is facing many challenges. If the system does not effectively address these issues with urgency, it will fail in its duty to provide cost-effective and quality services to the patient.

The health sector currently is witnessing historic shifts in the system. Medical and research findings and technological advances are changing the way modern medicine deals with disease. One-size-fits-all is no longer valid.

The medical community is realizing the need to shift its approach in dealing with service delivery, infrastructure, costing, and human capital. We already see ethnic and racial diversification within our patient populations. This underlines the need for more adaptive health strategies and a need to address new health conditions that are unfamiliar to us.

Public health is as complex, as important and as challenging now as it ever was. The World Health Organization is forecasting that the current economic crisis will lead to an increase in non-communicable diseases – which are responsible for 60 per cent of deaths globally – and also to more diseases caused by nutritional deficiencies, especially in low and middle-income countries. This will affect social welfare plans that target the alleviation of poverty, hunger and illiteracy.

We are only seven years away from the deadline set for achieving the Millennium Development Goals and the world is far from achieving the projected health indicators. With healthcare costs constantly increasing, there is a pressing need to provide cost-effective health services while maintaining quality. Public-private partnerships are now more crucial; and by fostering networking and the exchange of knowledge we will help to create a community of sector leaders and pioneers.

Last year, I was able to witness personally a model of leadership in the health sector that has yielded hugely tangible results when I had the privilege to visit an amazing healthcare facility in South Africa that is pioneering in delivering top-quality medical care to children with congenital heart problems. The Walter Sisulu Pediatric Cardiac Centre is leading in medical service delivery at a global level. This world-class facility performs more than 40 surgical procedures a week. It provides training and continuous education to heart surgeons and doctors in Africa to enable them to carry out similar procedures and so giving many children the gift of life.

This centre is an example of how leadership, vision, commitment and effective partnership in the medical community can make a difference. It has done so for thousands of children in Africa.

The future of healthcare should not only focus on the known aspects of the industry – be they medical training, the availability of qualified medical staff and human resources, infrastructure, or research – it should also pay attention to the human aspect of the industry. Millions of people from poor and impoverished communities who cannot afford basic medical care.

Children’s’ lives can be saved by simple initiatives, and a little health awareness for mothers and families goes a long way to preventing disease, and may even save lives. We cannot claim that we are achieving leadership and medical advancements in the health sector if more than nine million children died in 2007 before they reached the age of five.

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum said once “Unlike others, we are not content to settle for what was accomplished in the past, because life doesn’t stop and it doesn’t care about those who stop because they are content with what they have achieved.”

I cannot think of a more appropriate time for his words to echo among us, as we discuss the face of health care towards 2020 – 2030. We cannot settle for what was achieved in the past.

Dubai is known for its mega-projects and yet in parallel it has been striving to achieve excellence in the health care sector through the provision of proper infrastructure and the creation of a supporting environment for attracting world-class health institutions and facilities. Affordable and accessible to all and by that it is aiming at every tier of society.

Two months ago, we announced the building of the first children’s hospital in the UAE, The Sheikha Al Jalila Children’s Hospital that promises to provide comprehensive secondary and tertiary care to children in Dubai and the other emirates.

While we continue to continue to realize our infrastructure Sheikh Mohammad is the first to recognize that healthcare should not be parraled with real estate, and is in itself an investment in the development of a nation.

Leadership is ultimately measured by outcomes. We can engage in extensive discussions, but what ultimately matters are our actions. You are all here in the Dubai, the City which makes it happen. I hope that energy serves to inspire you in your deliberations.

Thank you.