Abu Dhabi / WAM
The UAE has put a strong focus on ensuring that the country is well prepared for any emergency or crisis that may occur, government officials said at the Crisis and Emergency Management Conference held in the capital on Sunday.
Organised by the National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority (NCEMA), the two-day event is aimed at bringing experts together to share and discuss best practices in handling crisis situations, with delegates from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Palestine, UK, and Australia in attendance.
In one of the keynote speeches of the event, Abdul Rahman Mohammad Al Owais, Minister of Health and Prevention, said that providing health security was crucial in avoiding emergency situations at a national level.
â€œHealth security is a big factor for national security, and we have put forward health strategies that are scientifically oriented to deal with different challenges,â€ he said.
â€œWe are all severely affected by globalisation today, and this is why we must address issues related to contagious diseases, ensuring that we are able to contain and prevent them. The health sector will always be very important in the development of the nation,â€ he added.
Al Owais said that the UAEâ€™s efforts so far have been a proven success, pointing to the positive results released by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
â€œIn 2015, the WHO showed the high ranking of the UAE, with the life expectancy in the UAE at 77 years in 2013 which is in line with other countries in Europe and the US,â€ he said. â€œThe UAE is highly ranked in other categories as well, and ranks number one for the number of health outlets that have international accreditation for safety,â€ he added.
Salam Obaid Al Shamsi, a member of the Federal National Council, FNC, called such conferences important as they help establish cooperation between different groups from around the world.
â€œWe have to work towards putting together any opportunity for collaboration from different institutions and individuals to fight crises and emergencies This [conference] represents an opportunity to look at experiences of different countries, and to look forward to cooperation on regional and international levels,â€ he said.
Al Shamsi also stressed that the FNC prioritises the overall well-being of society, and is constantly looking to come up with plans and policies to help achieve that goal.
â€œThe FNC is the connection between society and the government, and we always place importance on fighting against any crisis or emergency so that we can establish peace in society,â€ he said.
â€œThe FNCâ€™s goal is to discuss all the issues that concern the security of the citizens and residents, as well as to protect all national assets in the country and outside as well,â€ he added.
The conference is all the more important in light of the rain storm in the UAE last week which wreaked havoc, damaging properties and inundating many low-lying areas.
According to the Office for Arab States of the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, there have been more than US$1.4 trillion (AED5.14 trillion) worth of losses due to damage from natural disasters in the last 10 years. More than 1.7 billion people have been affected by natural disasters, and more than 700,000 killed in the last 10 years
Roughly 346 disasters were reported around the world in 2015, with 22,773 deaths, and 98.6 million people affected.
Between 1995-2015, 4.1 billion people were affected by weather-related events: 40 percent from storms, 27 percent from extreme temperatures, and 26 percent from flooding, resulting in more than 600,000 deaths.