The Dubai Health Authority’s (DHA) Early Intervention Centre provided 822 virtual and physical consultations for children with developmental delays during 2020.
The centre, which falls under the DHA’s Primary Health Care Sector is located in Al Mizhar Health Centre and provides high quality early intervention services for children up to six-years-old who suffer from developmental delays.
Ms. Fatma Ibrahim who is in charge of the Early Intervention Centre at the DHA, said that out of the 822 consultations, 715 were physical consultations and 107 were virtual.
The centre utilized smart technologies to introduce virtual consultations during the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure that children continue receiving the needed medical consultation services from the comfort and safety of their homes.
Ms. Ibrahim revealed that the centre had begun accepting patients for physical clinical consultations starting from June 21, 2020. She stressed that the centre is following stringent precautionary measures to ensure the safety of the children and their parents.
She added that the centre would provide physical clinical consultations along with virtual consultations when needed, as the later guarantees continuity of services and prevents the deterioration of the child’s condition, in case if they are not able to physically be present in the centre. Ms. Ibrahim said,
“The Early Intervention Centre offers comprehensive assessments and evaluations, therapeutic interventions (physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy), social support and family counseling. However the majority of patients, 54%, are referred to the centre for having speech delays, making speech therapy the most demanded service.”
Commenting on the centre’s expansion plans, Ms. Ibrahim said the centre is planning to introduce a diagnostic clinic. She said,
“This will help reduce the waiting time for receiving a diagnosis, in turn reducing the customer’s journey. We also have plans to extend the centre’s working hours to meet the needs of working parents.”
She also stressed the importance of early intervention pointing out that receiving the needed care at an early stage can change a child's developmental path and improve the outcome for children, their families and communities.
“The earlier the better! The Intervention is more likely to be effective when it is provided earlier in life rather than later. Early intervention has a significant impact on a child’s ability to learn new skills and overcome challenges, increasing the chances of success at school and life in general.”
As for overall advice for parents of children with developmental delays, Ms. Ibrahim said that parents have to keep a close eye on the child’s progress by tracking their developmental milestones and sharing their observations with the child’s doctor at every check-up.
“If there are any concerns, “Act early and don’t wait”. Acting early on developmental concerns can make a real difference for your child and you. You know your child best. To help you keep track of these milestones, the DHA launched the Baraem - Dubai tool for developmental screening.”
Baraem is a short questionnaire consisting of 20 questions designed by the primary healthcare sector at the DHA, to assess the development of children from nine months to six years of age in terms of movement, language, problem solving and social communication at different age levels. Once parents fill out the questionnaire they will immediately be informed if the child's development is on track or needs further evaluation. The tool is available for all parents via the DHA app.