Abu Dhabi boosts Health sector’s preparedness for cyber challenges

 During the Healthcare Protective Shield Wargaming Conference, the Department of Health – Abu Dhabi (DoH), the regulator of the healthcare sector in the emirate, identified different risk scenarios and helped prepare healthcare entities in Abu Dhabi for cyber threats by evaluating effectiveness of entities’ incident response and communication plan with the help of simulated cyber incident response scenarios.

Hosted recently in Abu Dhabi as the first of its kind in the region, the conference was organised in collaboration with the Cyber Security Council with the participation of 10 biggest healthcare groups of Abu Dhabi, representing more than 370 entities. The Cyber wargaming conference focused on assessing the sector’s preparedness to handle cyber challenges and pinpoint recommendations and best practices, ensuring the readiness of the sector and continuity of care.

The event saw DoH showcasing its efforts in the digitisation of healthcare services and emphasised on the importance of having high levels of data protection to protect all the patients’ data and sensitive information. Additionally, it covered a simulation of the Department’s Medical Operations Command (MOC) “Information Sharing” and “Patient Transfer Module” in the Estijabah Platform. The module is used for patient evacuation from one healthcare facility to another in order to ensure an uninterrupted continuity of care delivery to patients.

Dr. Jamal Mohammed Al Kaabi, Under-Secretary of the Department of Health – Abu Dhabi (DoH), said, “Under the directives of our wise leadership, we are continuously working on developing the healthcare ecosystem in the emirate for it to become among the leading and innovative systems in the world through digital services, aimed to improve the quality of healthcare for the residents of Abu Dhabi and the region. Accordingly, we understand the advances in technology entail that we provide the highest levels of protection to patients’ privacy. Today’s event creates an opportunity to explore and discuss all possible solutions to combat cyber incidents in accordance with international standards and best practices as we continue with our efforts to harness digital health technologies to improve patients’ experience and deliver world-class healthcare.”

Mohammed Hamad Al-Kuwaiti, Head of Cyber Security for the Government of the UAE, expressed his appreciation for the adoption of innovative digital services by the DoH Abu Dhabi in order to improve health care and enhance the ability to tackle cyber challenges.

He said that the Cyber Security Council is pleased to participate in the Healthcare Protective Shield Wargaming Conference, organised by the DoH Abu Dhabi. He added that these efforts aim to help in data protection, and improving the skills of work teams in digital safety and their ability to respond to any challenges related to data and patients’ files.

He noted that the Cyber Security Council is building a safe and resilient infrastructure for cybersecurity in the UAE, and promoting the culture of cybersecurity among institutions and individuals. He explained that the Cyber Security Council embodies the forward-looking vision of the UAE leadership and the country’s proactive approach in dealing with the various challenges posed by the fast-paced digital technologies.

Abdulla Bader Al Sayari, Office Director Information and Cyber Security at DoH, added, “With the rapid evolvement of the digital world, transmitting health information and maintaining patient records digitally becomes a responsibility that we all withstand. Thus, the Department of Health launched “Malaffi” to provide patients with a convenient and secure access to their medical records. Additionally, we launched "AAMEN" audit programme, which aims to ensure that all healthcare facilities in the emirate of Abu Dhabi are compliant with the information security and data privacy standards and provide the support needed for them to achieve world-class patient data privacy, secure the confidentiality of health information in its different forms and maintain its accuracy and ensure its accessibility.”

The healthcare sector is a frequent target for cyber-attacks due to the sensitivity of information, which are often sold and used in identity theft. Stemming from that, the Cyber Security Council along with the DoH Abu Dhabi have joined forces to identify risk scenarios and prepare healthcare entities for evolving cyber threats.

The event ensured a strong knowledge transfer and a deeper understanding of the technical, political, strategic and legal contexts of this cybersecurity, while also assessing the facilities’ ability to coordinate and provide uninterrupted care delivery.

DoH was the first entity in the region to develop a Healthcare Information Security Strategy. It is part of ongoing efforts to enhance the information infrastructure of the healthcare sector. The strategy contributes to putting a cohesive and proactive response framework in place to meet current and future healthcare cybersecurity challenges for the emirate of Abu Dhabi, while remaining focused on digital transformation through enabling technology, innovation and AI adoption in the healthcare sector of the emirate.

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