On the occasion of World Health Day, which falls on April 7 every year, Mariam Al Hamadi, Director of The Big Heart Foundation (TBHF), said the ‘Universal health coverage’ campaign set forth by the World Health Organization for this year, is designed to raise awareness about the importance of establishing the right to full universal health care for all, especially the poor, needy and refugees, whose care is a priority for TBHF.
Al Hammadi stressed that TBHF has the unwavering support of His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, The Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, and his wife, Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qassimi, Chairperson of TBHF, who strives through the humanitarian programs of the foundation to build and nurture cooperation to lay the foundation for strategies and initiatives aimed at tackling health issues faced by refugees and the poor around the world.
She added that the delicate situation of the health care sector, and the dire conditions of the poor and the refugees specifically, demands that all stakeholders transform their humanitarian work from temporary projects into sustainable solutions to support the health sector, in order to provide appropriate continuous health services for the community. Al Hammadi stressed that the principle of empowerment is more important and beneficial than temporary projects and aid. She emphasized that TBHF works towards developing the capabilities of the communities, and not carrying out the work on their behalf.
The world, between challenges and responses… Proactive action required
Al Hammadi noted that TBHF is a major contributor to addressing global health challenges, which is witnessing a significant deterioration in developing countries. According to the World Economic Forum in 2018, six million children die due to the lack of basic health treatments. There is also a shortage of up-to 6 million health workers, with a bleak forecast of rising numbers over the next 10 years.
She also stressed that the adoption of the latest technologies in training health care workers on the skills of first aid and rescue requires few weeks of training at a small cost of US $2,000 per staff member. The director said that the training is considered a sustainable solution, aligned with TBHF strategy and the UN’s 17 sustainable development goals.
“Proactive action is needed to address the roots and causes of problems such as hunger, contamination of food and water sources, illiteracy and lack of health awareness in some societies. To this day, medical relief teams continue to deploy after deteriorating health conditions occur. This can be pre-empted through data analysis and monitoring of health cases in the early stages, where action plans can be put in place for medical teams to carry and tackle early on,” said Al Hammadi.
The director added that aside from emergency relief efforts like food and cadre, TBHF works on sustainable projects to aid those in need. In 2018, the foundation funded a total amount of AED 47,896,662 to upgrade the main building of the Egyptian National Cancer Institute. They also advanced the services offered at ‘The Big Heart Clinic’ which was launched in 2015 to improve the health conditions of nearly 24,000 Syrian refugees in the Za’tari camp in Jordan, as well as building a hospital in the city of Cox Bazaar in Bangladesh to serve Rohingya refugees.
Al Hammadi concluded that aside from the Right to health -which is a human right in international agreements,- the vision of TBHF also aims to avoid any consequences resulting from bad health care and infrastructure in poor communities, due to its devastating impact on humankind, and the sustainable development journey of the world.