DUBAI // The 38th Arab Health forum will host three new conferences this year and will be the site of the Middle East Diabetes Conference for the first time.
The diabetes event will allow experts to share information on advancements in treating the disease, which affects about one in five people in the UAE.
"With these kind of pandemic levels, it is imperative to make sure that physicians have the correct guidelines to treat the disease, the different treatment options and obviously the skills to improve patient outcomes," said Lisa Stephens, executive director of Informa Life Sciences Exhibitions, the organiser of the event.
Also new this year is a dedicated conference on complementary and alternative medicine.
One in three patients treated within the western medicine model will seek some form of complementary or alternative medicine a year, Ms Stephens said, including patients in the Emirates.
Many patients are beginning to understand that complementary medicine - as its name suggests - does not necessarily need to work as an alternative. "So you may have something like oncology which is obviously treated by a physician with traditional methods, which is chemotherapy and radiation therapy but you may also have homoeopathy which can help improve the results," Ms Stephens said.
The third new conference will be Big Data, which will look at how efficient data-collection methods can improve clinical and business outcomes.
Arab Health 2013 will welcome about 8,000 delegates and 3,500 exhibitors, allowing medical professionals to seek out innovations.
"This helps promote a bottom-up approach to purchasing new equipment so that a nurse, a general practitioner or a surgeon can get a hands-on feel of the equipment," said Dave Panther, sales director of the life sciences division at Informa Exhibitions. "User acceptability is really important. When hospitals are bringing in new technologies, if the doctors and nurses aren't on board, it's not going to work."
According to a report released by Frost and Sullivan last year, healthcare expenditure is expected to triple in the GCC - from US$46.12 billion (Dh169bn) in 2011 to $133.19bn in 2018.
The report attributes the increased spending to the growing population, higher incidence of lifestyle diseases, wider insurance coverage and medical tourism.
The main challenge, however, is still the recruitment of qualified healthcare professionals.
For the UAE, the future looks bright, Mr Panther said.
"We're seeing an increase in the number of experts from the Emirates or the region who are able to speak as authoritatively as their counterparts in the western world or other parts of the globe," he said.
Partnerships with major medical institutions, such as Johns Hopkins and Cleveland Clinic, provide an opportunity for local experts to work hand-in-hand with their partners and do residential training.
"In the long run it will help bring up the standard of ability and knowledge within the region, so that maybe in the future we are not as reliant on external sources," Mr Panther said.
Arab Health will take place from January 28 to January 31 at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre.
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