Assessing the need for community health nursing services in the UAE
The rapid socio-economic development in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has had a great impact on the establishment and growth of the health care system in the country. Despite the development of the health care system, various shortcomings interact with and impact upon health and the way the health system functions and operates. Hence, the aim of this study was to assess to what extent the introduction of Community Health Care Nursing (CHCN) services in the UAE would address some of these shortcomings, In order to achieve this aim, a better understanding of the UAE health care system and health needs was required. This was obtained through a comparison with the United Kingdom and Bahrain, with a special focus on Primary Health Care and CHCN services. In recognition of the importance of the views of the public regarding any new service, fieldwork was conducted with a sample of the community and health services staff living in the city of Al Ain, UAE. The data required were collected by means of quantitative (questionnaires) and qualitative (the focus group technique and interviews) research methods. The findings from this study demonstrated that some shortcomings characterising the current health services need to be addressed before planning and implementing the proposed service. Furthermore, the results suggested that CHCN, preventive, curative or both, could contribute to meeting some of the identified health care needs. The findings also indicated a lack of understanding on the part of the general public of the function of primary, secondary and tertiary health facilities, in particular that of hospitals. It is therefore argued that PHC centres could be suitable places to host a CHCN service in the country. The findings also indicated that, despite the many advantages of such a service, more effort needs to be made to tackle the barriers to its successful implementation and to raise public awareness of the proposed service within the UAE community.