I am often asked during my many business trips and meetings with new people, what was the impulsion that motivated me to support and take a deep interest in international healthcare issues. Of particular interest to those I meet is my concern with healthcare issues affecting children. The answer is simple. Indeed, I am sometimes surprised by the very nature of the question, which seems to go without saying. Children are our future and our most precious resource and deserve to have the chance to be nurtured and cared for from the day they come into this world.
Although the most part of my career has not involved engagement in healthcare issues, I have been fortunate as an entrepreneur. Luck is of course only part of my good fortune as hard work and tenacity had a huge part to play in my success. Good luck will only get you so far in life and the road has not always been easy, but I invested wisely and now find myself in a very fortunate and privileged position. Yet, it is my belief that with privilege comes responsibility and my first taste of pediatric healthcare came when I was asked to visit a Sick Children’s Hospital.
To say that the visit changed me is an understatement. Suffering of any kind strikes a chord in the heart of all but the most hardened, but seeing a child in pain never, ever leaves you and becomes etched into your being. During my visit, I was consumed by a whirlwind of emotions – despair for the suffering of little children, admiration for the courage shown by everyone involved in tending the sick children but the biggest emotion was awe. I was in awe of how optimistic and full of joy these children were in the face of confusing and painful medical conditions that left them no option but to deal with the cruel misfortune and arbitrariness of illness.
Yet, while I witnessed suffering I also saw a profound pragmatism that inspired me to take responsibility for my privileges and make a difference, if not to all suffering children, then at least to those I have the power to help. Perhaps providence opened doors for me because not long after my visit I was fortunate enough to meet wonderful healthcare professionals who have dedicated their lives to paediatric healthcare and research. I quickly came to realise that I could make a difference to the many not the few by using my business background to create greater opportunities fund treatments and cures in paediatric healthcare.
My resources, both financial and practical were partnered with others from different fields of expertise and together we are able to support courageous young patients from all cultures and communities. I have happy to use my advantages to help make a difference for others. It is for this reason that I am proud and supporting the Arab Health Exhibition. There are few regions in the world so much in need of greater medical support for the young and the UAE is using its priviliges to help provide healthcare solutions not only to its own people but to the region as a whole.
It may seem trite to say that the future of the region depends on the physical and mental state of its young, but often simplicity is truth. The region as a whole needs far more resources than one nation such as the UAE can bring alone, in order to safeguard the well-being of its young. Let us never forget that although we worry what our children will become tomorrow, we cannot forget that they are people today with urgent needs. According to the World Health Organization, the Middle East region is one of the most critical areas regarding childhood mortality and diseases.
As such, I believe the Arab Health Exhibition is an important meeting place and forum not only for the exchange of ideas but also a platform to improve the lives of those living and growing up in the region. The world has changed dramatically over the past few decades and the Middle East, thanks to nations like the UAE and its neighbours, are beginning to make a difference, but to be fully functional we require international cooperation.
The world has become increasingly interdependent; therefore, we must find ways to work together. Improving and saving the lives of our children and their future is a good place to begin. It is in this field that I believe I, along with many others, can make a difference. For, as another great pioneer of health welfare once said: “When I approach a child, he inspires in me two sentiments — tenderness for what he is and respect for what he may become.”