Dubai Health Authority (DHA) has launched the Mental Health Strategy for the emirate.
The strategy known as ‘Happy Lives… Healthy Community’ is Dubai’s first comprehensive mental health strategy and is applicable across all public and private health entities in the emirate.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), mental health is a “state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”
Humaid Al Qutami, Chairman of the Board and Director-General of the Dubai Health Authority, said, “The strategy demonstrates the commitment of the DHA to build a world-class healthcare system to meet the needs of its residents. It clearly reflects the DHA vision ‘Towards a healthier and happier community.’ It also reflects the greater Dubai 2021 vision for the city of Dubai to be a ‘smart and sustainable city,’ with people who are ‘happy, creative and empowered,’ a society that is ‘inclusive and cohesive,’ and to be ‘the preferred place to live, work and visit.’”
Fatima Abbas, Director of Policy and Strategy Department at the DHA, said, “In line with the overall DHA Health Strategy 2016-2021, we are chalking out specialised health policies which are drafted after comprehensive analysis of the current situation and after identifying gaps and challenges as well as strengths and opportunities. We also consulted with international organisations such as World Health Organization (WHO) and benchmarking was conducted against high performing systems countries that are demographically and culturally similar to Dubai. The strategy has unified protocols and processes, addresses gaps and builds on systems and processes that will help benefit patients and their family members and provide high-quality continuum of care for mental health services.”
Abbas added that developing a comprehensive mental health strategy is programme number six of fifteen health programmes for the overall DHA strategy 2016 to 2021.
Dr Nadia Dabbagh, Consultant Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist at Rashid Hospital, and Programme Lead for the Mental Health Strategy at the DHA, highlighted that the implementation plan is divided into waves based on the priorities, needs and resources and according to the four pillars of the strategy, which are:
1. Legislation and governance:
• Mental health governance, legislation, and regulation is vital to the successful implementation of this strategy. Dr Dabbagh said: “Enactment of relevant and necessary legislation and appropriate regulatory bodies serve as an indispensable foundation to embrace accountability, as well as reflect the commitment, leadership and patronage. In other words, this foundation will enhance existing legal frameworks as well as support and promote drafted legal frameworks to further improve accountability and operational excellence in the provision of mental health services. At the core of this initiative is the protection of human rights, preserving dignity and empowering people at risk or suffering from mental health problems and disabilities.”
• To establish the proper foundations for a high quality mental health system by approval of an updated mental health act and to put the processes in place for its effective implementation.
• To oversee, coordinate and integrate the activities of multiple mental health stakeholders through clear leadership and governance.
2. Promotion, prevention and early intervention:
DHA will implement several initiatives such as promoting a healthy start to life, parenting programmes, school based interventions, support for children of parents with mental illness, workplace and occupational stress interventions, recovery oriented approaches, interventions for older people. Key strategic sectors and stakeholders may include health, education, social affairs, housing, childcare, recreation, employment, prison services, financial and media services, the government and the home.
3. Service delivery and finally recovery
Farah Aqel, Specialist at the Health Policy and Strategy Department at the DHA, said: “Through this model the emphasis is to move away from relying on hospital facilities to community-based rehabilitation and treatment programs. Mild to moderate cases can be managed in the primary care setting, with appropriate and easy referral to secondary level services for moderate to severe cases. Thus, we will reserve tertiary care for the more complex or severe cases.
4. Patient empowerment programmes
Aqel said, “Our aim is to empower patients to lead fulfilling lives as engaged members of society through developing and rolling out support systems and step-down programs. Recovery and community integration are recognised critical factors in significantly reducing the burden of mental illness on the patient, family and society. Recovery is the product of a dynamic interaction between individual characteristics such as hope, and a sense of meaning and self; environmental factors such as including opportunities for satisfying basic material needs, social relationships, meaningful activities and peer support; and features of the service delivery system including choice and empowerment, independence and interdependence. It is the process of ‘gaining control over one’s life and the illness’ rather than the illness having control over the individual.”
DHA held strategic partnership discussions with Illumina, a leading company in genome technologies, in an important step towards implementing the ambitious Genome Project, which aims to reach the highest levels of health care and disease prevention, through gene surveying.
‘Genome’ uses gene scanning to detect changes in the genes, chromosomes, and proteins that can lead to genetic diseases, allowing researchers to prevent and eradicate chronic diseases and cancer. It can also reduce the financial burden of treating chronic diseases, in addition to slowing down the ageing process.
Humaid Al Qutami, Chairman of the Board and Director General of the DHA received Paul Johns, the Director of Population Genomics at Illumina, which has established Genome Labs in the UK and countries around the world.
The DHA, in the presence of Dr Manal Taryam, CEO of Primary Health Care Sector and Mai Al Doussari, the coordinator of 10X, shared the implementation plan of the Genome project and its expected outcomes, which ultimately revolve around exterminating chronical and genetic diseases like diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases and obesity.
Source: The Gulf Today
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