Monday, August 13, 2012

Changing the Future of Health through Pediatrics: Guest Lecture in United Arab Emirates

Children’s National CEO and President Kurt D. Newman, MD, gave a talk titled, “Changing the Future of Health through Pediatrics,” in Abu Dhabi at the invitation of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed al Nahyan, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi. The talk was given before a prestigious gathering of distinguished guests, including key government and health leaders within the United Arab Emirates. 

Dr. Newman spoke at the invitation of HH Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed al Nahyan, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi.

Dr. Newman's remarks focused on how health care professionals around the world must think differently about the care they provide:

“Traditionally, doctors look at an adult and think backwards, asking, how can I treat the disease this person has developed? But what I propose is that more doctors should be thinking ‘forward’—trying to get upstream of these common diseases before a person becomes ill.”

The Majlis

Thinking forward, he noted, is what pediatricians have been doing for years. He explained that pediatricians predict a child’s growth and development based on established benchmarks, which then help them provide care and advice that keep children from getting sick. He highlighted Safe Kids Worldwide, which was created by Children’s National surgeon Martin Eichelberger, MD.

Dr. Newman's talk focused on how doctors should "Think forward."
 “25 years ago, Marty noticed that he was operating on many, many children who came into the emergency department due to accidental, preventable injuries. So he asked himself, ‘why not try to prevent more injuries instead of just fixing them?’”

Dr. Eichelberger’s program now works around the world including Abu Dhabi and Dubai, implementing training programs to combat accidental injuries. Their work to introduce car seats and encourage the use of helmets and seat belts, has led to a 53 percent reduction in accidental injuries in the United States alone.

Dr. Newman also highlighted how Abu Dhabi is already headed toward a more upstream model, evidenced by the emirate’s successful implementation of the pulse oximetry screening for critical congenital heart disease.

“In the old way of doing things, a baby that seems fine at birth would be sent home. But what if that baby had a heart problem that just hasn’t caused her to be ill yet? When that problem happens, she would be rushed back to the hospital and could possibly die. Now, a simple, non invasive screening that takes hardly any time at all can detect these heart issues before that baby leaves the hospital and has a dangerous complication problem.”

Since its adoption in 2011, 18,000 babies have been screened in Abu Dhabi, and 10 babies with critical congenital heart disease have been detected and treated.

After touching on existing successful models, Dr. Newman previewed the future of “thinking forward.” This includes the promise of technology, especially advanced genetics screenings. High speed, low cost genetic analysis will identify markers for diseases like heart disease and diabetes, and also determine how a person’s environment impacts their genetic predisposition—known as epigenetics. These advances could allow doctors to identify at birth a person’s likelihood of developing a disease, and help plan interventions that avoid them.

Finally, he stressed the importance of shared vision and creative connections between government, health care institutions, and stakeholders, to make these ideas of how to impact global health issues for children a reality. He used the example of the Sheikh Zayed Institute, which was made possible by the $150 million gift from the government of Abu Dhabi. He highlighted how that institute, in collaboration with partners in the United Arab Emirates, are building new tools, providing better education, and truly changing children’s health care around the world.

Dr. Newman reported he was humbled and honored by this opportunity to share his ideas, and also by the gracious and generous way in which he has always been received by the people of Abu Dhabi and the UAE.

Dr. Newman’s talk was held at a Majlis of HH Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed al Nahyan. During the holy month of Ramadan, these special Majlis lectures, which are privately held gatherings of leaders in the United Arab Emirates, are held regularly, with His Highness extending invitations to prestigious government leaders and other key stakeholders from across Abu Dhabi.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent Summary of Children's Health issues around the world and the innovations that are/will be helping to save children. Congratulations to Dr. Newman for receiving such a prestigious invitation.