World Health Day: A path to health rights


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In today’s world, where health often takes a back seat to the demands of daily life, healthcare providers play a crucial role in empowering individuals to take ownership of their health rights. A multifaceted process, helping individuals take ownership of their health rights requires collaboration between healthcare providers and patients. By providing education, encouraging open communication, involving patients in decision-making, utilising technology, supporting self-management, and respecting autonomy, healthcare providers can help individuals make informed decisions about their healthcare and take control of their health.

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A collaborative effort

According to Prof. Abdel Rahman Omer, Group Medical Director, Burjeel Holdings, patient empowerment is a collaborative effort between healthcare providers and patients. “All healthcare providers have to take charge and work closely with patients regarding the implementation of what we identify as patient empowerment,” he explains. “This is all about patients taking care of their health issues, being well-informed by care providers, and educated while being helped to make the right decisions regarding their health.”

Dr Rohit Kumar, Medical Director and Specialist General Surgery, International Modern Hospital, stresses the importance of individuals taking initiative when it comes to their health. “Many disregard health until illness strikes, deeming it a low priority,” he notes. “Ownership necessitates prioritising health.” Dr Kumar highlights the need for individuals to educate themselves about wellness and take proactive steps to prevent sickness. “To thrive, proactive investment in well-being is vital, fostering a culture of self-care,” he adds.

Dr Priyanka Porwal, an Internal Medicine Specialist at Aster Clinic, Sheikh Zayed Road, provides practical strategies for healthcare providers to empower individuals. “Providing education and resources is key,” she says. “Offer patient-friendly information about their condition, treatment options, and preventive measures.”

Prof. Abdel Rahman Omer, Group Medical Director, Burjeel Holdings

Dr Porwal also values the importance of open communication. “Foster an environment where patients feel comfortable asking questions and sharing concerns,” she advises. “Listen actively and provide clear, empathetic responses.”

She suggests involving patients in decision-making as a way to empower them. “Encourage patients to participate in developing their treatment plans and goals,” she says. “Explain the benefits and risks of different options, and help them make informed choices that align with their values and preferences.”

Modern technology also plays a role in empowering individuals to take ownership of their health. Dr Porwal recommends promoting patient portals or apps that allow individuals to access their medical records, schedule appointments, and communicate with healthcare providers securely.

In addition, healthcare providers can support self-management by teaching patients how to monitor their conditions, manage symptoms, and adhere to treatment plans. “Provide tools and resources for tracking progress and setting goals,” Dr Porwal advises.

It’s also essential for healthcare providers to respect patient autonomy. They need to recognise a patient’s rights to make their own decisions on imparting care, including the right to refuse treatment. “Support them in their choices while ensuring they understand the potential consequences,” Dr Porwal says.


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Addressing pressing issues

As far as global health is concerned, certain challenges persist, defying decades of progress and innovation. In addressing pressing health issues, healthcare providers play a pivotal role in empowering individuals and communities. By providing education, encouraging preventive measures, supporting early detection and management, and collaborating with public health entities, healthcare providers can make significant strides towards a healthier future for all.

As we navigate the complexities of global health, it is evident that a multifaceted approach is required. Healthcare providers pave the way for a healthier, more resilient world by looking at the root causes of these pressing health issues. Through collaboration, innovation, and a steadfast commitment to improving health outcomes, we can overcome these challenges and build a brighter future for generations to come.

Dr Rohit Kumar, Medical Director and Specialist General Surgery, International Modern Hospital

Prof. Omer highlights that fundamental health issues like maternal and child mortality, preventable infectious diseases, poor sanitation, unsafe water supply, malnutrition, and health issues exacerbated by war continue to plague communities worldwide. “These challenges, remain unparalleled in their impact and urgency,” he notes.

Dr Kumar shines a light on cardiovascular health as major point of concern. He underscores the importance of managing controllable risk factors such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and sedentary lifestyles. Education, he says, is key to empowering individuals to adopt balanced diets and manage these conditions effectively. “Regular health check-ups, facilitated by healthcare providers like dieticians, physicians, and endocrinologists, enable early detection and proactive management,” he says.

Dr Porwal points to the ongoing challenge posed by Covid-19, which continues to impact individuals globally, leading to illness, death, and economic disruption. She draws attention to the importance of healthcare providers following strict infection control protocols, encouraging vaccination, providing accurate information, triaging and testing appropriately, collaborating with public health authorities, and supporting mental health.

Dr Priyanka Porwal, an Internal Medicine Specialist at Aster Clinic, Sheikh Zayed Road

“People who have had Covid-19 may be more likely to develop new health conditions such as diabetes, heart conditions, blood clots, or neurological conditions compared with people who have not had the disease,” she says. “Healthcare providers should provide patients with accurate and up-to-date information about Covid-19, its

symptoms, and how it spreads. They should also educate patients on the importance of following public health guidelines, such as wearing masks, social distancing, and staying home when sick.”

A shared responsibility

In the healthcare landscape, promoting health literacy and ensuring that individuals are aware of their health rights is necessary. Promoting health literacy and ensuring awareness of health rights requires a collaborative effort between healthcare providers, patients, and communities.

By engaging in education, communication, and community involvement, healthcare providers can empower individuals to take control of their health and well-being. Together, we can build healthier communities and a brighter future for all.

Prof. Omer says promoting health literacy and awareness of health rights is a fundamental part of any organisation’s social responsibility and ESG agenda. He highlights the importance of health education, which can be provided through various channels such as schools, community centres, sports facilities, social media, newspapers, newsletters, and face-to-face interactions.

“Well-educated and informed patients are more likely to make the right decisions and take responsibility for their health, fostering a partnership spirit with healthcare providers,” says Prof. Omer.

Dr Kumar underscores the pivotal role of community engagement in advancing public health. He suggests involving community members, healthcare professionals, and stakeholders in programme planning, implementation, and evaluation.

For example, targeting physical activity could involve working with children, parents, and local sports club coaches to tailor activities for all ages. “This collaborative approach integrates community perspectives and resources, leading to sustainable solutions and healthier communities overall,” he says.

Dr Porwal talks about practical strategies for healthcare providers to collaborate with patients and communities. She suggests organising workshops, creating educational materials in plain language, using visual aids, providing access to online resources, encouraging questions during appointments, and engaging in open communication. “These efforts help empower individuals to make informed decisions about their health and navigate the healthcare system effectively,” says Dr Porwal.