Ministry Urges Insurance Companies To Include Screening In Basic Packages

Among the several initiatives, the ministry is negotiating with insurance companies to include screening as part of basic packages.

Health authorities are set to reduce cancer and cardiovascular incidences in the country in the next four years with plans including setting up of specialised centres for cancer. A framework is currently being developed to reduce cancer and heart disease indicators, according to a senior official from the Ministry of Health and Prevention.

"This initiative was agreed upon years ago and the health authorities concluded that early detection and screening was important to avoid future complications," Dr Muna Al Kuwari, director of specialised care management and executive vice-president of the team set up to counter these incidences told Khaleej Times.

Among the several initiatives, the ministry is negotiating with insurance companies to include screening as part of basic packages. 

The National Agenda was set in 2014 and results have to be out by 2021. "We have set targets - some are quick, others moderate and a few are long term," she said.

Last week, a workshop was held to develop operational plans for different initiatives and programmes launched by the ministry. Thirty-six executive teams were established to achieve objectives set by the National Agenda 2021 across 52 national indicators over the next four years. 

During the workshop, Dr Ibtahal Fadel presented the World Health Organisation's (WHO) guideline for implementation of indicators regarding cancer, heart and artery diseases.

Dr Muna said in the first workshop national indicators for a population of 100,000 people were developed. 

"We will set the framework required to implement nine national programmes and initiatives aimed at fighting cancer and establishing specialised centres capable of providing diagnostic and therapeutic services in UAE hospitals," she said. The discussions will also contribute towards the preparation of a national cancer registry.

"We are also be establishing the framework to implement eight new initiatives - to develop specialised services, modernise equipment, help train medical and technical personnel, streamline the national programme for early detection called Itmenan, and provide smart applications capable of detecting risk factors," she said. 

"We aim to develop new healthy food campaigns and encourage more positive interaction from the food sector."

"We are focusing on the screening because this is the only way we can avoid complications in the future," said Dr Muna.

Screening of cancers including breast, colorectal and cervical cancers is already being done on a large scale. For the Year of Giving, the ministry is offering these screenings free of charge. 

"We want to raise massive awareness among the people," she added. "Soon a UAE-wide campaign in different languages will be launched for cancer screening."