The first ever Network of Students in Medicine and Health (NeSMAH) conference shed light on some of the opportunities, challenges, and innovative strategies around the future of the healthcare sector in the UAE.
Organized by NYU Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) students on Saturday, April 6, the inaugural conference welcomed more than 100 undergraduate and graduate students from 10 UAE universities as well as five advisers, eight speakers, and 30 distinguished guests. Notable speakers included Founder and Chairperson of the UAE Genetic Diseases Association Her Excellency Dr. Maryam Mohd Fatma Matar; Director of Policy and Standards Strategy at the Department of Health Abu Dhabi (HAAD) Dr. Zainab Khazal; and Director of the Health Innovation Center at the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) Mai Faisal Jassem Mohammad AlDosari.
In his welcome remarks, NYUAD Vice Chancellor Al Bloom said, “Students with passion, vision, and superb leadership skills have been working over the past year and half to create this remarkable and unprecedented initiative. Today, students and advisors from 10 UAE institutions join hands through NeSMAH conference to contribute to improving the future of healthcare in the UAE. The model NeSMAH has created for institutional cooperation brings university life to new heights, and I invite all participating students to take advantage of the intellectual offering NYUAD community has.”
During the conference, HE Dr. Matar shared that the main pillar of the healthcare system in the UAE is prevention, and highlighted how the country is well linked with the global genetics research, with an aim to improve understanding of genetics in order to enhance the UAE’s ability to manage non-communicable disorders. “The future of healthcare plans in UAE are based on the principles of prevention, early screening and early intervention. Our prevention centric strategy is proven to be the best for a young country like ours, which has a young population. The national healthcare strategy aim to work towards a healthier and happier new generation by 2071, in line with the UAE Centennial Plan 2071, which aims to make the UAE the best country in the world,” HE Dr. Matar said.
Launched in November 2018 by NYUAD seniors Tami Gjorgjieva, Alvaro Yanez, and Hala Aqel, NeSMAH aims to encourage the formation of an alumni network of graduates in medicine and health from UAE universities to continue professional exchange throughout their careers. To date, eight universities with 28 students have developed their own NeSMAH network, mentored by the three NYUAD founders.
Class of 2019 NeSMAH co-organizer Gjorgjieva said, “We decided to launch this network because there is currently little opportunity for students across different universities in the UAE to connect with one another. To us, that seemed like lost potential that we seek to tap into through NeSMAH.” Fellow NeSMAH co-organizer Yanez added, “We wanted to create a platform to connect students across disciplines, to encourage the exchange of knowledge and ideas, and grow the future generation of healthcare professionals in the UAE and worldwide.”
Class of 2019 co-organizer Aqel added, “This first conference connected each student to over 100 future colleagues and leading healthcare professionals, while also providing them with unique insights and perspectives into the future of healthcare in the UAE.”
Open to students from a variety of fields ranging from Biomedical Engineering, Medicine and Sciences to Health Policy and Public Health, NeSMAH seeks to serve as a hub for professional development through networking across a diverse range of career fields. This is achieved by establishing partnerships with UAE-based public and private corporations, including but not limited to hospitals, research institutes, and public authorities, among others, to enhance career prospects for the network’s members.