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The United Arab Emirates was formed in December 1971. Abu Dhabi is its capital. In 2002 the countrys population was 5.5 million. The UAE is made up of seven states that are governed in a federal manner; it controls 8% of the worlds oil reserves making it the 4th largest producer of oil and the richest country per head of population. However, due to the decrease in oil output the Emirates are diversifying into tourism and service provision. This region has witnessed significant development both political and infrastructural. The government constantly seeks for the latest and best technologies to run activities within the region. Currently, the countrys entire population has access to safe drinking water and investments are being made every year in its power supply, transportation and communication sectors to improve and maintain them (Country Cooperation Strategy for WHO and the United Arab Emirates, 2006). Comparatively speaking the UAE has some of the latest technologies available to its inhabitants.
When placed side by side with other nations the UAEs health care delivery level is quite good, its share of the budget has been a fairly constant 7.7%. It currently has 15 hospitals in urban areas, which represent 57.7% of the total number of hospitals in the country, as well as 106 primary health care centers. All of them make one health care facility per 35,415 of the population. Almost all levels of health care are decentralized due to the long standing history of the regions federal system, with its characteristic broad power sharing structure. The health ministry of the Emirates looked at power sharing from the perspective of primary health care. According to this, , decentralization is defined as the relinquishing of some powers of autonomy to the regions, the insurance of supervision, follow up and assessment by elements that represent the central administration, this freedom granted individual regional groups include financial as well as administrative autonomy (health system profile, 2006)
This arrangement not only enables innovativeness among regional and hospital administrators, it also affords them some measure of flexibility in hospital administrative decisions and operations. However, this presents a very unique problem to the health sector as the independence of individual health facilities precludes any form of centralized control and evaluation. This is rather significant because it makes the codification and implementation of any form of national health policy in any branch of health care services an extremely difficult task (Arabic Network forum n.d.). Another particularly irksome issue, having the same roots as the aforementioned, is the absence of a centralized place or system for the accumulation of health care data and information. This is central to the further development of the United Arab Emirates health sector because health policy decisions are made following the accumulation of empirical data collected from health facilities; these data enable the planners as well as the health policy strategists to properly identify areas that should be strengthened and/or modified, and even after the formation of any kind of policy its success or failure will also be managed and evaluated by the data collected from health facilities as well. Given that healthcare like other sectors of the society in this 21st century is an increasingly information driven sector, the need for such a structure cannot be over emphasized (Health system profile, 2006).
Such approach gives an example of a sector where the application of the aforementioned challenges in the absence of national health guidelines for hospital management ( because of the decentralized control), leads to lack of adequate monitoring and supervision with the concomitant lack of a standardized means of evaluation. Thus, makes it almost impossible to include scientific findings as the basis for health care reform at a national level. This reflects in government spending on the health sector, the significant funds allocated from the budget do not go to prevent certain diseases or train the populace on preventive measures. These specific challenges are the results of the decentralization policy adopted by the United Arab Emirati government.
In spite of the relatively large amounts of funds budgeted for the healthcare in this region every year, a clear thought – out plan has been difficult to formulate or implement. Human resources remain a great concern for this region, the bulk of the health care professionals employed in this nation are not Emirati nationals. There is a high level of red tape regarding the appointment of human staff for the work in this region even there available positions. In addition, there is a lack of coordination of career development opportunities for health care practitioners in that region. As alluded to earlier, health education is still largely unaddressed. In the same vein, new doctors trained in these regions are by the same reason, unable to have access to the best practices in their chosen field.
There are a couple of other rather peculiar problems faced by the Emirati health care providers. One of them results from the wealth of the state; the high per-capita income means that most of the employments available to citizens of this state are those that foster a sedentary life style as well as the proliferation of children with serious weight issues. The report showed that almost 1n 3 children in this particular region is obese, their number is rising and it is likely that a generation of obese people is not completely beyond the realms of imagination (Bell, 2013). Among adults the situation is not particularly rosier. An article showed that people in Abu-Dhabi and the surrounding states with acute cardiac conditions were likely to die 5 years earlier than people with the same condition in other parts of the world. Experts blame peoples lifestyle choices as well as genetic factors. Smoking is also a very habit which increases the likelihood of developing cardiac conditions (McMeans, 2012).
Proper planning and education will help the Emirati health services to curb well the effects of the challenges the country is currently facing.