March 3, 2000
|Partners joins effort to
upgrade UAE health care system
Partners HealthCare System has agreed to join two other medical centers in an effort to help the United Arab Emirates (UAE) develop a better national health care system. The agreement, reached in January, defines Partners as a subcontractor, along with Johns Hopkins Medical Center and the Carolinas Healthcare System, working for a general contractor called Emirates Palomar Medical Technology Services. According to the contract, Partners is committed to be involved for the first three years of the 14-year project.
Established as a country in 1971 and approximately the size of Maine, the UAE is home to nearly 3 million people. Since the discovery of oil during the 1960s, the UAE has experienced a booming economy and has become a major player in the Arabian Gulf. The countrys health care system, however, has not seen similar progress, a situation the UAE government is committed to changing.
"This project represents an exciting opportunity for Partners to expand its international health care practice and gain valuable experience working closely with a foreign health care system," says David Jones, executive director of the Partners International Program. "By exporting our expertise and best practices, we can have a very real and lasting impact on improving global medicine."
Mortimer J. Buckley, MD, former MGH chief of Cardiac Surgery, and Gilbert H. Mudge, Jr., MD, director, Cardiac Transplantation at BWH, are providing physician leadership for the project.
"This relationship offers a wonderful opportunity to take care of the needs of a number of patients who cannot be cared for in the current setting," says Buckley. "From a humanitarian perspective, it is interesting, useful work. It also is a good fit for our capabilities. Physicians are asked to share expertise in patient care, research and teaching — what we do best. Right now, the contract covers the military and their families, but we hope that in the future it will extend to the general population."
A nurse in the UAE cares for a newborn.
Approximately 160,000 military members and their families are eligible to receive care under the contract agreement with the UAE government. Palomars contract states that up to 300,000 patients can be cared for, allowing future growth of the number of eligible individuals.
Palomar is responsible for operating the UAE hospitals and clinics to deliver primary, secondary and tertiary care. Partners and the two medical centers will provide care that cannot be delivered in the UAE.
In the past few years, approximately 1,000 military-based patients from the UAE have obtained care abroad. From this estimate, Partners expects to see about 300 to 350 patients. In the first three weeks of the agreement, Partners hospitals have already received 20 referrals.
Partners physicians also will visit the UAE. During their trips, physicians will have opportunities not only to evaluate and care for patients but also to teach UAE clinicians about new treatments and techniques and to participate in planning for clinical improvements.
"They have good technology and good physicians there already," says Edwin McCarthy, corporate manager for Partners International Marketing and Business Development. "What they lack are the systems, programs and training to utilize what they have more efficiently. The pieces of the puzzle are there; it is just a matter of helping them put them together."
Two areas that Partners initially will focus on are cardiac care and womens health. According to Buckley, physicians in the UAE perform catheterizations and some minimally invasive procedures. They do not, however, provide comprehensive preventive and diagnostic care. Womens health services as practiced in the western world do not exist in the UAE. For example, regular breast exams, mammography screenings, hormone replacement therapy and gynecologic oncology services are not widely available.
For more information about the project, contact McCarthy at 4-5407.
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