Academic journal article Arab Studies Quarterly (ASQ)

Impact of Population Variables on Health Services Demand and Provision in the United Arab Emirates

Academic journal article Arab Studies Quarterly (ASQ)

Impact of Population Variables on Health Services Demand and Provision in the United Arab Emirates

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

THE POPULATION OF ANY COUNTRY is the ultimate beneficiary of any policies, services and programs made for that area or country, including policies and programs in health care and health services provision. The health and medical centers, hospitals, clinics and allied health services in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are made for the use of the residents of that country, albeit some non-residents can come in from outside to access those programs. The links between population and health have been discussed empirically and theoretically in the existing research literature (see for example, Weeks 1986; Yeboah 1998 & 2005). As evidenced from the literature and demonstrated later in this study, population variables such as size, composition, spatial distribution and dynamics impact the level, nature, types and variety of health services demand, and subsequent service provision. In addition, a leading determinant of health is the social environment (Syme 1992, Yen and Syme 1999), and population is an integral part, and a major player in the social environment.

A knowledge and understanding of these demographic variables are therefore essential for health services development and delivery, as it also allows for planning and targeted service provision. This is particularly so for population based and place based health planning (Yeboah 2005), community health programs (Dzewaltowski et al. 2002 and 2004) as well as targeted health education and health promotion (see for example, Green 1999). Not much exists on the inter-relationships between population and health in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The purpose of this article is, therefore, to use data from the UAE to investigate and illustrate the theoretical and empirical links between population and health in the UAE, with a view to improving health service development and delivery.

SOURCES OF DATA AND METHODOLOGY

Data for this study have come from the Ministry of Health and the Department of Statistics, Ministry of Economy and Planning in the UAE. The two agencies have a variety of information on the demography and health of the UAE, including historical information on the population changes as well as increasing health services provision. The methodology includes an analysis of the demographic and health data to identify and discuss changes in the size, composition, distribution by Emirates and dynamics of the UAE population and their impact on demand and provision of health services. The methodology also includes the use of the above information to demonstrate the links between population variables and the demand for and provision of health services.

IMPACT OF POPULATION ON HEALTH

Yeboah (2005) presents a framework for place based health planning, which identifies and discusses the essential elements of population and health inter-relationships (figure 1). According to the figure, demographic variables impact on health directly and indirectly in conjunction with social disadvantage and community services. Demographic variables such as population size, population composition and population distribution (spatial or geographical) affect needs assessment, needs prioritization, as well as program development and delivery.

[FIGURE 1 OMITTED]

In general, the size, composition and distribution of population determine or rather influence the provision of health services (figures 1 & 2). Changes in any of the said demographic variables (called population dynamics) have the potential to impact on demand for and provision of health services. There is a positive relationship between population size and health services provision, the higher the population size, the greater the potential demand and the higher the level of health services provision. Population composition works on the basis that the potential demand is shared among the various segments of the population and, in particular the age distribution of the population. …

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