The Abu Dhabi Early Childhood Authority is launching a pilot program for universal developmental surveillance and screening of children aged 0-3 years

The pilot was developed in partnership with Mubadala Health, the Kanad Hospital, and Al Dhafrah Hospitals, and guidance from the Department of Health – Abu Dhabi (DOH)
• The program aims to increase the rate of early detection of developmental delays and disabilities among children in the emirate of Abu Dhabi
• It will enable parents to better support their children and seek intervention at the earliest possible age

With the support of the Department of Health – Abu Dhabi (DOH), the Abu Dhabi Early Childhood Authority, in partnership with Mubadala Health, Kanad Hospital, and Al Dhafra Hospital is launching a pilot program for universal developmental surveillance and screening of children aged 0-3 years.
The program aims to increase the likelihood for early detection of developmental delays and disabilities in children aged 0-3 through regular monitoring and specialized checks, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. The outcomes of these will provide parents with the necessary information to detect whether their child will require intervention in order to ensure their child’s best developmental outcomes.
The pilot’s methodology was co-developed with Kanad Hospital and several specialists from Mubadala Health and SEHA clinics in the Al Dhafra region. This program is one of the many programs that targets children with disabilities within the framework of the Abu Dhabi Strategy for People of Determination 2020-2024, which it launched by the Department of Community Development in Abu Dhabi
H.E. Engineer Thamer Rashid Al Qasimi, Executive Director of Special Projects & Partnerships at Abu Dhabi Early Childhood Authority (ECA), said, “Together with our partners, we aim to ensure each child has access to the services they need, and support the identification of children with developmental problems; in order to ensure they receive timely early intervention and enable them to overcome any difficulties they may have experienced during their early years; emphasizing that developmental surveillance in the early years of a child’s life is a very important procedure, since this is the period when the brain goes through a faster growth stage, and it is the most common period in which developmental problems may appear in the child. Therefore, the project aims to develop a sustainable approach to monitor the children’s growth, along with conducting screening on a frequent and regular basis instead of once, in order to identify problems that may appear, specifically in skills that develop later on, such as language; due to the flexibility of the child’s brain that is experiencing rapid and continuous development in the early years of his life, which represents the period in which the child responds the fastest to interventions. Improving child development, especially in the early years of his life, helps in maximizing children’s educational attainment, as well as improve their integration into society and enhance their role as active individuals”.

His Excellency pointed out that this program will contribute to improving access for children and their parents to the resources they require to support granting each child the best start in life. These resources include experts and formal sources of information related to child growth and development.
Her Excellency Hind Mubarak Al Zaabi, Executive Director of Healthcare Facilities at DoH, said: “The UAE has been taking massive strides in matters of inclusion with the aim of providing an inclusive and empowering society for People of Determination (PoD). As the regulator of the healthcare sector, the Department of Health – Abu Dhabi (DoH) remains committed to working closely with strategic partners to elevate the quality, safety and value in healthcare to all members of our community. The Department has always vouched for the importance of prevention and early detection across all healthcare streams – the pilot programme translates our ultimate vision in achieving a healthier Abu Dhabi and is yet another step to implementing the Abu Dhabi Strategy for People of Determination. By utilising knowledge, evidence-based research, resources, and expertise, we aim to contribute to the programme through maximising early detection screenings and assessments for developmental delays and disabilities in children. In addition to providing parents with guidance and insights that will support them in taking the right decisions for the children’s healthcare needs at an early age.”
Commenting on the partnership, Hasan Jasem Al Nowais, Chief Executive Officer of Mubadala Health, said: “Mubadala Health is taking another significant step to ensure all children and their families have access to timely healthcare services across Abu Dhabi. There is an urgent need in the UAE to identify children with developmental problems earlier, so we can intervene and ensure the best start for all children. The key to success of such universal health programs is finding feasible, cost effective, and scalable programs to improve the health of the nation. This is just one of the many initiatives we are working on in collaboration with Abu Dhabi Early Childhood Authority to secure a bright future for parents and children in the emirate, by leveraging the expertise and capabilities of our world-class network of healthcare assets.”
Dr. John Birky, Interim Chief Executive Officer of Kanad Hospital, added, “Kanad Hospital is pleased to continue its commitment to collaboration by implementing this essential Abu Dhabi Early Childhood Authority initiative to support families seeking to help every child realize their full potential. With the rising incidence rate of children with developmental disorders, it is urgent that we do all we possibly can to fight for the future of our children and to ensure every parent has access to the tools they need to provide for their child. The exceptional team of clinical professionals at Kanad Hospital is rooted in our community and is passionate about the privilege we have to make a meaningful difference in improving the quality of life for every family in the emirate of Abu Dhabi.” Dr. Nicholas Hoque, Consultant Paediatrics and Neurology at Kanad Hospital observed that, “This is the first time that children born in the United Arab Emirates are being offered universal developmental screening. Our program will support families starting from the moment their child is born by identifying and addressing developmental challenges so children can realise their full potential.”
The program will be implemented by specialized and trained healthcare professionals from partner hospitals and clinics in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and Al Dhafra.
Dr. Mariam Rashed Al Mehairbi, Regional Deputy Chief Medical Officer of Al Dhafra Hospitals (ADH) said that “The increase of focus on diagnosing developmental delays will have a positive impact in our society. We would like to be a part of this new initiative launched by Abu Dhabi Early Childhood Authority to support early detection of developmental delay in children in the Al Dhafra Region which is aligned with ADH’s vision to promote the overall wellbeing of the children & families and improve their quality of life.”
The outcomes of the program will provide evidence-based practices and bolster research on how to best implement a Universal Developmental Surveillance and Screening program in Abu Dhabi

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