A doctor in Dubai is offering free medical consultations to low-income blue-collar workers and domestic staff.
Dr Haider Ali, who works as a family medicine consultant at Medicentres, said he is driven by a desire to support the underprivileged with essential medical care, and he does so by giving up his free time.
“If I can change the lives of three or four people, that is good. Earning a few hundred dirhams extra is not important in the long run,” Dr Ali told The National.
He grew up in Abu Dhabi and father worked as an accountant with the family later moving to Sweden.
After completing his medical training at Manchester University Medical School in the UK in 2008, Dr Ali practised medicine there for more than 12 years before moving to Dubai in 2021.
He holds a postgraduate diploma in dermatology and has written four medical books. His latest has been adopted by the Mohammed bin Rashid University of Medical Science in Dubai.
Dr Ali said he has observed that many low-income workers in Dubai lack access to specialised care.
Elma, a Filipina domestic worker who became severely anaemic, has benefited from Dr Ali’s help. She said she was thankful for all he had done for her.
“He gave me free medicines and explained everything about my blood test and what needs to be done,” said Elma.
“I already feel better now. If it were not for him, I would not have been able to do my tests for affordable prices.”
While Dr Ali is appreciative of the healthcare system in the UAE that makes it mandatory for everyone to have health insurance, he said there are limitations faced by some people, particularly domestic or construction workers whose coverage is basic.
“I have enough free time that I can put to good use. I am off two days in a week. I finish my work early some days,” he said.
He started by spreading the message in the community around Mudon, where he lives.
It was not long before people began to reach out to him. He now sees at least six or seven people a month in his clinic, in addition to his daily consultations.
The majority of his patients have chronic illnesses such as asthma, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Dr Ali also provides mental health counselling, especially for those living far from their families and feeling stressed and isolated.
“I see many people who need mental healthcare and who come to me because their insurance does not provide adequate coverage,” he said.
Prevention is better than cure
Passionate about preventive healthcare, Dr Ali also emphasises that looking after one's health is crucial, especially when convenience often takes precedence over well-being.
Dr Ali's altruism does not stop at medical consultations, he also coaches workers in basketball to promote healthy lifestyles.
“If you can change or influence one person, there can be a ripple effect where that person can influence his friends or family members,” he said.
“That is how a change will set in and we can rise together.”
Dr Ali describes himself as a fortunate person with a good job and a home – someone who wants to pass what he has been blessed with to others.
He firmly believes that a small act of kindness can affect not only an individual but also their friends and family, fostering a united and supportive community in the process.
Dr Ali said he sees the immense potential of compassion from the UAE government and its leadership.
“I see so much of goodness around in this country. I draw inspiration from that to do my bit,” he said.
His next goal is to open a pop-up clinic with the help of authorities so that he can offer free medical care to more people.
“That is a positive legacy of giving that I want to create,” he said.