Princess Haya bint Al Hussein, wife of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, yesterday expressed concern over the implication of the economic crisis on the healthcare sector.
She said the downturn would have profound implications on health and social welfare programmes and the poor and impoverished would be the first to suffer.
"We cannot claim we are achieving leadership in medical advances if more than nine million children in 2007 died before reaching the age of five," she said in the keynote opening address at Arab Health.
Princess Haya quoted Sheikh Mohammed as saying: "Unlike others, we are not content to settle for what was accomplished in the past, because life does not stop."
And she added: "I cannot think of a more appropriate time for his words to appeal as we look towards 2020 and 2030."
Princess Haya toured the exhibition, which has attracted regional and international healthcare professionals, and visited the Dubai Health Authority stand. Princess Haya, a vocal advocate of humanitarian causes, has taken a high-profile role speaking on public welfare issues in the UAE and elsewhere in the Middle East. She is chair of Dubai's International Humanitarian City and a UN Messenger of Peace.
Jessica Sutherland, General Manager of event organiser IIR Middle East, said: "We have been both delighted and honoured by the presence of Princess Haya."
More than 50,000 healthcare professionals are taking part in Arab Health, which is showcasing the latest medical technologies and clinical research.
The event includes conferences such as Healthcare Management Forum, ME Urology Update and ME International Cardiovascular Conference.