Arab Health: Sustainability now a 'driving factor' for global health industry

MRI machines are being designed to use less gas and helium - both diminishing natural resources

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Sustainability is now a priority for the healthcare sector, experts said at the Arab Health conference.

With many governments putting sustainability to the forefront of their agendas, the regional general manager of GE Healthcare said it was "something we all have to do".

Ashish Koshy, chief executive of G42 Healthcare, said sharing data was vital to advance sustainability in health care.

Andrew Bowie, UK minister for exports, said his government was fully committed when it came to implementing sustainable healthcare practice.

“Sustainability is at the forefront of our government’s thinking,” Mr Bowie said, speaking on the sidelines of the event at Dubai World Trade Centre.

“Everything we do now from a department of international trade perspective involves investing in green trade.

“We are investing in green technology and exporting it around the world and the UAE matches our ambition there.”

Andrew Bowie, UK minister for exports, at Arab Health in Dubai on Monday afternoon.

He was speaking at the UK pavilion at Arab Health where he said his country’s presence at the event made perfect sense given its long-standing relationship with the UAE.

“These two countries [UAE and the UK] have a connection and partnership that’s one of the oldest in the region. We want to build on that,” said Mr Bowie.

“We are determined to not only continue investing in the UAE but to use that as a launchpad to take British technology out into the wider world.”

He said having access to better care at home was one way in which sustainable healthcare could thrive.

“Mobile technology will prevent people having to travel as far, reducing that person’s carbon footprint in the process,” he said.

“That’s just one example but it plays into a much bigger picture.

“The UAE and the UK are closely aligned with Cop28 coming up later this year.”

Sharing data

The chief executive of one of the UAE’s top healthcare firms said lessons learnt from the Covid-19 pandemic would play a key role in promoting sustainability.

“Data is critical for companies using artificial intelligence,” said Ashish Koshy, chief executive of G42 Healthcare. "We learnt from the pandemic the value of data-driven decisions.

“We were able to use a single centralised platform to see if individuals were positive for Covid-19 or not.

“It was important to have all that under one roof rather than multiple agencies working across different platforms making uninformed decisions.”

Ashish Koshy, chief executive of G42 Healthcare at Arab Health on Monday. Chris Whiteoak / The National

There are still challenges that need to be overcome before sustainability goals can be fully realised, Mr Koshy added.

“Governments and entities need to fully buy into sharing data and that’s a barrier that still needs to be broken,” he said.

“Once that happens you will see a positive change.”

Hady El Khoury, regional general manager of GE Healthcare, said sustainable practices were the only realistic course open to healthcare providers.

“Having a clean environment and a healthy world go hand in hand,” he said.

“Sustainability is not a choice, it’s something we all have to do.”

He gave the example of his own company’s new MRI machine which uses significantly less energy.

“The MRI machine we are showcasing today uses 80 per cent less helium consumption than standard models,” he said.

“Helium is a natural resource so we need to use less of it.”

Gas is a crucial component of most MRI machines but supplies of the non-renewable element are running low, meaning the healthcare industry has had to look for alternatives.

Updated: February 01, 2023, 7:07 AM