MEET ISRAEL’S ‘MEDICAL AMBASSADOR’ TO THE UAE

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Tatiana Zhelninova, the former chief Physician and Medical Director of Hadassah Medical Moscow in Skolkovo, is striving to bring Israel’s top doctors and best biotechnologies to the United Arab Emirates, thereby improving healthcare in the region.

“For doctors, nurses and medical professors, nationality and race are not important,” she told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday during its Global Investment Forum in Dubai. “What is very important is who you are, what you are doing and with whom.

“I want to be Israel’s ambassador for medicine in this country,” she said.

Zhelninova, who is not Jewish and lives in the former Soviet Union, recently launched Medcurator with the goal of building government-regulated centres of excellence in the UAE that can harness the brains and biotechnology of the Jewish state for the benefit of one of its newest allies.

Medcurator was formed in partnership with Israel-based Health Plus, which is the international marketing arm of Hadassah Hospital, and under the trusteeship of the UAE-Israel Business Council. The council was established by business and public sector leaders from the UAE and Israel to help foster “shared opportunities, economic cooperation and business partnerships between Emiratis and Israelis,” its website says.

The seeds of a first partnership were planted in February when the UAE’s Zulekha Hospital and Health Plus signed a mutual agreement to cooperate in the field of medical tourism. The partnership has not progressed, Zhelninova said, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, although there is still hope that a formal contract will be signed and additional similar collaborations could be established.

Zhelninova’s vision of “health without borders” between the countries, in the aftermath of the Abraham Accords normalisation agreement for peace and prosperity, began when she took a vacation to the Arab state in December of last year.

Having left Hadassah Moscow after building it up successfully, according to those who know her, she was looking for somewhere to relax before taking on her next challenge. When she arrived in the UAE, one of the only countries that kept its borders open during the pandemic, she met with medical colleagues in the UAE. She visited hospitals in Abu Dhabi and began to learn about the country’s challenges and opportunities.

She had worked in Hadassah and been to Israel several times, including staying in close touch with several Jewish colleagues from the former Soviet Union who moved to Israel in the 1980s and 1990s. This sparked her vision for Medcurator.

The idea of the Medcurator is to unite a top group of internationally recognised professors, medical specialists and nurses – first from Israel and eventually from other countries – from various medical centres to establish “centres of excellence” for treatment, both virtual and in-person. These centres would work within local medical schools and governmental and private hospitals. The Israeli professionals involved would share best medical practices and technologies with the UAE.

Specifically, Zhelninova’s goals are to provide a platform for Israeli medical professions to implement innovations in therapeutics and technology in the UAE, provide and implement IT technology, biotech innovations and clinical and data sharing solutions for UAE’s health ministries, such as are used by Israel’s health funds.

 “New technology demands new competencies,” Zhelninova said. “New competencies demand new educational medical programmes.”

She believes that if Israel’s best doctors “consolidated their forces,” they could improve medical care in the region, beginning with the UAE.

Zhelninova’s vision is in line with the aim of the country’s top health officials.

Dr. Marwan Al Mulla, CEO of the Health Regulation Sector of the Dubai Health Authority, told the Post that the country’s Unified Healthcare Professional Qualification Requirements are more flexible than those in other countries, and he envisions that “it is natural now, since the Abraham Accords, with Israel leading in healthcare, that a lot of Israeli doctors will come here to work.”

He cited the April establishment by Aviv Scientific, the Israeli company that leads the field of research and treatment in the aging process, of a medical centre in Dubai.

The centre in Dubai is expected to employ 100 staff members and includes a multidisciplinary team of doctors, nurses, neuropsychologists, physiologists, dietitians, hyperbaric technicians, data and technology personnel, an article published earlier this year in the Post described.

Al Mulla said there is a shortage of nurses and doctors in the UAE, like in much of the rest of the world, including Israel, and the country is working hard to attract top healthcare professionals from abroad.

“We will welcome all specialities,” noting that the Health Authority’s strategic plan includes bringing precision medicine, stem cell gene therapy and other innovative treatments to the UAE. ‘’ I think collaboration with Israel, especially opening new centres in Dubai, will help us,” Al Mulla said.

Zhelninova’s vision does necessarily mean Israeli doctors would have to move to the UAE. Rather, her centres of excellence would focus on training the doctors already in the country to better utilise telemedicine, artificial intelligence, remote control devices, teleradiology, telepathology and more. In her model, doctors from abroad could also offer this care using these same techniques, meaning by phone or video.

Zhelninova said that she believes science and medicine are the foundation for peace in the Middle East.

“I love my profession from the bottom of my heart,” she told the Post, adding that when you are saving lives “there is no need to fight – it is that simple.”

Editors Notes:

Hadassah UK proudly support Hadassah Hospital’s mission of peaceful coexistence, dedication to saving lives today, and finding medical solutions for a world of tomorrow.

THIS ARTICLE BY MAAYAN JAFFE-HOFFMAN, FIRST APPEARED IN THE JERUSALEM POST, ON 3 JUNE 2021.


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