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Views of an international student around public health and why it is important in the UAE

Ahmed Mohammed Al gharib is an international student from the UAE who is currently studying public health at Salford. Public Health is still developing in the UAE. Ahmed has written a short reflection around his thoughts about the importance of Public Health to the UAE.

Two major factors in UAE are of particular importance to public health; the very high socio-economic status; and the impact of the built environment.  In this regard, there is a larger population of wealthy individuals from all over the world who live in the UAE. In the major cities like Dubai and Abu Dhabi it is not common to see poorer-class citizens. This socio-economic status is likely to impact on their health.

The wealth of the country has led to a huge increase in the number of tower blocks being built.  Within these, there is an emphasis on using the most up-to date technologies available, so potentially relying a lot at technology during work and/or at home, (e.g. through “smart house”) which is also likely to impact health conditions.  In particular, the Gulf countries face pretty high diabetic and obese populations compared to other countries.  This is in part due to the wealthy lifestyle and the consistent cultural/traditional hospitality; i.e. invitations to dinners with a huge amount of food. Culture plays a major role in this.

In the region:

  • Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has the world’s highest number of diabetic people.
  • Saudi Arabia takes 3rd place in Obesity.
  • Kuwait is the highest number of obese people worldwide.

I believe that the Public Health sector, when working alongside other professional sectors in cross-sectional teams, will carry out research that can work towards resolving many complex problems in the UAE and Gulf countries -that are a cause of mortality and morbidity.  Public Health staff are very useful, as they think critically about an issue to determine its origins, work along management and policy makers, and implement strategic decisions that will improve health, and health care delivery.  Advanced methods in public health have the potential to help people and organisations to cope with the rapid technological/industrial and organizational issues in the UAE to make the best possible decisions in relation to health and wellbeing. There is also the potential for aspects of public health maximizing productivity, profitability, and life satisfaction within the region.

In addition, there is a need for being ready to deal with future challenges resulting from changes in the interaction between people and the environment and implementing epidemiological skills to the field of public health. It is also important to correlate environmental and Public Health concepts to protect the citizens and the environment from stressors or contaminants there.  Particularly as the weather in UAE gets very hot during summer times; it over 54 Celsius! As such there is a need for public health solutions in relation to this area and suitable interventions and education.

Implementing the theoretical and practical knowledge of Public Health (e.g. in relation to communicable and non-communicable diseases) within the UAE has the potential to have a stronger impact compared to other countries.

 
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From one of our Alumni – Umar Kabo Idris

My name is Umar Kabo Idris from Kano state, Nigeria. I am a passionate public health professional who is highly interested to be a part of strengthening health systems and closing the wide gap of health inequality in Nigeria. In pursuance of this interest, I was fortunate to work with an NGO that plays a vital role in health systems in northern Nigeria through the use of appropriate technology. My interest grew even bigger while working in many rural areas across various states. After working for almost two years, I thought of getting a masters degree in the field of public health in order to acquire the appropriate research skills and vast knowledge to fulfil the desired passion and achieve my end goal of changing people’s lives in the area of better health services and to also advocate for better health policies. With gratitude to God, that has been achieved as I have just concluded my masters degree program in Public Health from the prestigious University of Salford, Manchester.

During the masters programme time, I thought of a dissertation topic that would fit into what could change or bring in better health policies, add value to our localities particularly with regards to improving the lives of people in my state. I arrived at something to do with technology because from my ideas and those found from research, it is clear that technology is massively used to support many interventions through health systems strengthening in many developing countries. The research looked at the impact of local public health workers using GIS technology for polio vaccination coverage. It was a successful research, in the end we explored on ways the same technology could be used in other local interventions especially now that Nigeria is officially no longer listed as a polio endemic countries. Thereafter, that led us to find out the prevalent diseases that needed more attention and how the technology could be used to support those interventions.

The journey of my passion did not stop at that, my masters research has given me a broad scope of what I love to do. I immediately got the opportunity to apply for an opening of Assistant Project Manager in my second week of coming back. I applied and was called for interview due to my experience of work in the same organization I left for masters last year. Part of the job interview focused on my dissertation findings and it was an easy ride for me. In the end, I can say I got the job and my first task is to be a part finding out how we can use appropriate technology to support the upcoming measles campaign scheduled to take place in the third week of November 2015. I am highly exited and happy to get my masters from a great team of public health in the University of Salford, even more so from my inspiring project supervisor (Anna Cooper). I am also happy that I am on the right track of achieving my aim.

 
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Welcome to our blog

This is the blog from the University of Salford’s Public Health team.  We hope that our blog will be of interest to colleagues, students, those working in public health and anyone with an interest in public health. It would be great if you could get in touch and tell us what you would like us to write about, what you want to know about the department, and also if you would like to contribute to our blog.

 
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