Gulf can be health pioneer, minister says

The UAE Minister of Health Dr Hanif Hassan tells a two-day summit that the challenge lies in implementing technological achievements at a high pace.

ABU DHABI // The Gulf aims to be a world leader in health care, ministers from GCC countries heard yesterday as they gathered for a two-day summit. "We all aspire that the GCC region can be pioneering in the world in terms of health care standards," said Dr Hanif Hassan, the UAE Minister of Health. "What that requires from us is to face all the challenges and work with determination to set a high pace, and to be keen on aspiring towards implementing in our countries the technological achievements in the world."

Dr Hassan said one area in which the UAE was setting high standards was the development of its electronic health information system, known as Wareed. The summit's theme, E-services for Health, is aimed at creating ways to keep the region's health systems in line with global developments in information technology. Wareed stores patients' information in a central online database so doctors from hospitals and clinics across the country can view their medical histories, including laboratory results, X-ray results, treatment and medication, Dr Hassan said.

The programme is already in place in hospitals and primary care centres in Ajman, he said. Al Qassimi Hospital and Al Kuwait Hospital in Sharjah will be linked up shortly. In his opening address, Dr Hassan said the ministers would "discuss all issues related to health matters in the Gulf co-operative countries" and "develop new health strategies and policies in order to raise the levels of community members and individuals".

As well as Dr Hassan, the health ministers of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Yemen are attending the summit at the InterContinental hotel in the capital. It ends today.