The UAE has long understood the importance of its younger residents and – from education to employment initiatives – is dedicated to investing heavily in their futures. They are the doctors, teachers, architects and business leaders of tomorrow. However, older citizens will always be an important part of the country's present. Now, for instance, the growing over-60s age group accounts for 20 per cent of all patients in Abu Dhabi hospitals. In response to this, Seha, the institution that owns and operates public hospitals and clinics in the capital is instituting a new programme to streamline access to medical services, tailored specifically to this demographic.
The body's new strategy, titled Your Health is our Responsibility, is at present focused on two major hospitals: Tawam Hospital in Al Ain and the flagship Sheikh Khalifa Medical City in Abu Dhabi. However, plans are in place to extend it to other institutions. Under its auspices, patients of 60 years old and over will benefit from a wide range of services, such as at-home treatment, psychological care and priority access to parking and transportation. Hospital representatives will also escort patients to their appointments, and discuss health plans with patients' families, with the help of translators, if need be.
Perhaps most importantly, health chiefs aim to cut waiting times by 70 per cent. Ensuring faster consultations, it is hoped, will encourage older patients to seek medical help when they need it. This is vital, given that many older patients have expressed fear and anxiety about going to hospital. Making access to healthcare services as easy and frictionless as possible is a crucial step towards building a healthier and happier population. "The elderly are a priority and an important segment of society," Seha's Dr Waheeda Abdulla told The National. As such, they deserve the very best care available – after all, they have nurtured younger generations and, through their hard work and dedication, played a pivotal role in making Abu Dhabi the vibrant and prosperous place it is today.