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Elixir of life

Creating centres of excellence & growth – Zulekha Hospital


Dr. Zulekha Daud who set foot in the UAE in 1964 is the first female Indian doctor to practice in the UAE as well as the founder and managing director of Zulekha Hospital. Dr Daud chose to open her first hospital at a time when the government hospitals treated both expatriate and local patients for free. However, Dr Daud always counted on her rapport with patients and was not disappointed with the turnout when her hospital opened.

Zulekha Hospital, established single-handedly by Dr. Zulekha Daud in 1992 in Dubai, is a full-fledged, multi-disciplinary resource with out-patient and in-patient facilities. The healthcare facility started off as a 30-bed hospital with basic facilities for gynecology, obstetrics, surgery, medicine and pediatrics. Today, the Zulekha Healthcare Group includes two multidisciplinary hospitals in Dubai and Sharjah, as well as one diagnostic centre, three UAE medical centres and three pharmacies.

Zulekha Hospital Dubai is a 79-bed hospital established in 2004 offering both in-patient and out-patient care covers a wide range of medical and surgical specialties. Its aim is to treat patients as individuals; to understand their needs and fulfil their expectations of expert and compassionate care in a clean, safe, comfortable and friendly hospital.

MediWorld  ME met with Mr. Taher Shams, son of Dr. Daud as well as the Managing Director of Zulekha Healthcare Group who shared what is it being the part of this illustrious establishment and facing challenges on the way.

You ventured into the field of healthcare by establishing Zulekha Healthcare. How has the health care sector evolved over the decades across the UAE and what are your viewpoints in patient-doctor relationship?

The healthcare sector has evolved significantly and we have seen a rapid change in the way we operate. The competition has grown manifold. Keeping up with the times, we have ensured efficient implementation of PIS (Patient Information Systems) and LIS (Lab Information Systems).

Today the patients’ demands are changing with the revolutions in healthcare.Patients undergoing critical surgeries like knee replacements can walk the very next day and recover fully over a few days as compared to extended hospital stays earlier. Our facilities are equipped with perks for patients including valet parking, fast track services, and even night and Friday clinics with specialists available all night. We have been pioneers in introducing these in the regional healthcare system and it is heartening to see others follow.

As a rule of thumb in healthcare, the patient/doctor relationship is always very valuable and important. If you know a doctor in person, you are more likely to visit him/her directly. The doctor also needs to understand what the patient wantsand we keep on receiving patients from far off destinations only because of their trust and confidence in our services.

You have been pioneers in medical education programs for the entire Gulf region. You have also been conducting consistent interactive workshops and seminars on various medical and surgical topics. Can you highlight some of your achievements?

Our endeavor is to constantly improve the overall quality of healthcare services and expertise in the organization and our extended communities in the region. Every time we host CME (Continued Medical Education) sessions, it helps bring together the best and enables exchange of ideas. We are providing these platforms for the medical fraternity in the UAE as diverse nationalities come together and exchange information and enhance their skills. This, in turn, enhances the patient experience in the larger healthcare eco-system.

You are known for your community service initiatives. Kindly tell us more about few CSR projects which are close to your heart?

In line with Zulekha Healthcare Group’s CSR objectives, the campaigns are led by the hospital in association with government bodies and valued partners, all of whom relate to the cause of spreading awareness of deadly diseases and, in doing so, positively affecting the lives of people throughout the region. All campaigns are approved by Dubai Health Authority (DHA) and the Ministry of Health (MOH). Allow me to enumerate some of them in brief:

Chance to Change

In 2014, Zulekha Hospital developed ‘Smear, Don’t Fear’, a cervical cancer awareness campaign that is now named CHANCE TO CHANGE designed to encourage regular checks and to educate women about the symptoms, risks and prevention of the second most common cancer, which affects hundreds of thousands of women worldwide.

Screening Numbers: 282 in 2014, 475 in 2015, 1,400 in 2016

Screen and Survive

Zulekha Hospital has launched this health awareness campaign to challenge the taboos surrounding colorectal (colon) cancer and to help save lives across the UAE. In association with the Ministry of Health (MOH), Zulekha Hospital developed the campaign to stress the importance of regular checks for early detection, and to educate the wider public about the screening process that can eliminate the disease.

Screening Numbers: 148 screenings in 2016, 154 in 2017.

Pink it Now

‘Pink It Now’ campaign advocates early detection and subsequent reduction of deaths from breast cancer across the UAE. The program is undertaken in collaboration with associations such as The Pink Caravan, a FoCP initiative that has been raising awareness about breast cancer since 2011, highlighting the importance of early detection and regular check-ups, whilst also dispelling the innumerable myths that surround the disease.

Screening Numbers: 850 in 2014, 1,826 in 2015, 2,902 in 2016.

No More Excuses

No More Excuses’, an initiative led by Zulekha Hospitals, is a community-based campaign that is dedicated to promoting the need for people to take responsibility for their own health and wellbeing.

Early onset of heart attacks and strokes are stress due to overwork and everyday anxieties.

Compounding these problems are lifestyle inhibitors such as smoking, drinking and eating junk food, which are often resorted to in order to offset stress.

Zulekha Hospitals encourage the community to visit their facilities in order to avail themselves of a free appointment with a specialist cardiologist, during which ECG, blood pressure, sugar and cholesterol readings will be taken.

One sports event done in Feb and Yoga in April over weekends (Over 1,000 participants collectively).

Corporate Governance

Zulekha Hospital has, since 2013, committed itself to the Global Reporting Index (GRI), including presenting various initiatives alongside the guidelines of the GRI.

We are the first healthcare entity from within the UAE to submit the GRI, and this is a vital step towards practicing progressive and transparent governance in the Group.

Women Empowerment

Zulekha Hospitals are an active member of the ‘She Works’ partnership, a global initiative of the IFC, a member of the World Bank. Alongside other companies we pledged to implement measures proven to enhance women’s employment opportunities – such as mentorship programs, flexible working arrangements, and leadership training to increase diversity in management. This helps us ensure gender diversity and drive productivity, competitiveness, and innovation at work. Over 40 per centof our employees are women.

What are some of the peculiar ailments in UAE and how equipped you are to treat them?

While we are a multi-specialty hospital providing all medical care under one roof, we have centers of excellence that cater to specialized critical health care in terms of cardiac, bariatric, orthopedic, and gynaecological ailments. We are keen on establishing these centers of excellence as they provide for research, development and advancements that enable us to be ahead of the curve. Zulekha Hospital Dubai has been recognized for its surgical weight loss program and outstanding management of morbidly obese patients by the International Federation for the Surgery of Obesity and Metabolic Disorders (IFSO). Speaking of cardiac sciences, we have local and international expertise attending critical cases supported by world-class technology and operating facilities.

You were recently recognized by Forbes Middle East as a Top Indian Leader in the UAE but do you think every award brings more challenge to excel and out-do previous performances?

We are honored to be recognized among the future Top Indian leaders in the region by Forbes Middle East. Yes, with rewards there is always a higher benchmark set for oneself. Challenges are seen as opportunities to learn and grow, be ready to take risks and achieve more. I always believe in “Expecting the Unexpected”. Hence there is a long way to go. Each day comes with its own lessons that we need to pick up and move ahead with. I tread on the footsteps of our founder, Dr. Zulekha Daud and draw inspiration from her. She has been our exceptional motivating force.

In addition, I’d like to underline that our resolute values prioritizing quality patient care have always helped, and continued focus on patient centric services is the key to overcoming operational hurdles. Complementing our efforts, the government of the UAE has always been very supportive.

Uplifting the brand image with our operational excellence, the group has been honored with many accreditations and accolades over the years including the certification by the Joint Commission International (JCI) and the CAP Laboratory Accreditation Program, the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum (MRM) Business Excellence Award, the Dubai Quality Award, the Dubai Chamber CSR Label Award, thePlatinum LEED certification as the firstenergy efficient and environment friendly hospital across the Middle East.

On that note, can you please tell us about your expansion plans?

As mentioned, creating centers of excellence is the key to our growth. We are expanding our facilities in Dubai and look forward to an extensive cancer care and research center by 2018. In Sharjah as well our current capacities have increased with recent additions to beds. We have expanded and established our footprint in Nagpur, India with Alexis Multi Speciality Hospital. Our growth has been organic and we believe in investing our funds back in business so it generates the desired positive and healthy growth.

By Vasujit Kalia