March 1, 2022
Let's close the gap.
4 min read
Gone are the days when we can hop on a plane and jet across the world care-free.
Despite COVID being COVID, in every country you visit the rules surrounding its prevention and spread, as we all know, vary enormously. Now global travel is even more of a military operation than getting the kids to school.
Having been diagnosed with COVID at Christmas (despite having had three vaccinations), apparently I was still at risk of testing positive on a PCR for up to three months after recovery. Therefore nervously, I tripped off for an expensive pre-flight PCR. Having nasal douched until I had little lining left in my nostrils, I requested the very costly speedy test, which apparently they have to take more time swabbing because it’s an express test. Thankfully negative. This was the second of six tests I was to have for the stay in UAE.
Arab Health was our first destination, where the great and the good gather in Dubai to exhibit their wares, share their experiences, and innovations and network, of course, and why not take advantage of being in this beautiful region?
It was truly awe-inspiring to listen to the presenters proud to share their innovations and plans for transformation from small but meaningful changes to pathways of care, to huge revolutions in systems. It was great to feel the enthusiasm to want to share, grow, and evolve and to watch how regions of the world are investing in the development of healthcare for the good of their nations. I was blown away by the plans that Saudi Arabia has to invest multiple billions into their healthcare system over the next eight years. The plan for growth is phenomenal.
We spent five days at the conference, then off it was to Abu Dhabi. Travelling from Dubai into Abu Dhabi requires a border crossing (temporary during the pandemic), only in the one direction, mind you, and no active Al Hosn - no entry! Even across the Emirates the rules vary quite a bit. Beware, should you get a cab across the border, the requirement apparently is that taxi drivers are tested more frequently than us common folk. If you’re planning to travel, take it from a woman who was left on the border looking for a cab – check to confirm the driver’s PCR is within the current time frame required. Hitching a ride in the desert is not ideal.
The ever evolving and improving healthcare system in Abu Dhabi is fascinating to watch from the outside. The UAE is in such a unique position. Having a melting pot of nations coming together means that the residents really benefit from the input of many, resulting in active global collaboration and learning from best practice. Their close focus, measurement and publication of numerous quality indicators is a demonstration of their commitment to improve the health of their nation.
Because the UAE is such a young region, we as “outsiders” should take advantage of that situation, as often fresh eyes bring new and revolutionary ideas. This region unashamedly aspires to be the best. Although many organisations quote in relation to global best practice, I have not seen many that actually publish that data, whereas Abu Dhabi actively seek best performance to make the comparisons with data.
As we know, variation exists in every walk of life, but I am privileged to work with many regions to encourage the sharing, collaboration, and willingness to improve healthcare through access to data.
Having worked in a number of countries, within their different health systems, what is very clear is that variation in provision and outcomes is wide but now more than ever we have the opportunity to share best practice and narrow the gap.
I wonder if one day someone will step back and look at variation in practice and outcomes around COVID to highlight where the best practice was.
Let’s take advantage of our ever-evolving ways of communicating to learn from others and narrow the gaps!
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