Family Health

Health trends for 2017

December 29, 2016

It’s remarkable to find out that 98% of Dubai residents have health insurance. Yet, that is reality. This is part of a wider trend concerning how people are obtaining what amounts to essential medical cover, in an increasingly confusing, connected world. There are also other incredible trends worth considering. Let’s have a look at what these are and why they matter. It can inform your own health decisions and the ones you might have to make for loved ones.

Increasing insurance

As Gulf Business reports, the majority of Dubai residents now have medical cover: “Over four million Dubai residents – accounting for about 98 per cent of the emirate’s population – now have health insurance, according to the Dubai Health Authority (DHA).” What makes the case interesting is due to it being mandatory. People who do not have cover will be fined, meaning it probably makes more sense to simply sign up.

This is an unusual case, since elsewhere in the world there are no such severe penalties. People can lose work Visas if they fail to comply with the law. However, unlike other areas of the world, Dubai is prosperous and can afford to manage this kind of healthcare for its citizens.

Even in America, universal healthcare is an issue. As health professor Timothy Callaghan notes: “The United States remains one of the only advanced industrialized democracies in the world without universal coverage.” As Callaghan outlines, there are a number of uniquely American reasons why it has not happened, such as American ideas about individualism and the power of lobby groups whose businesses (in the healthcare industry) would lose out if it happened.  

However, as the world becomes more developed, with more people becoming doctors, smarter, younger people taking charge of governmental systems, you can expect to see universal healthcare become top priority. Though the infrastructure might not be there for many places, it’s seen as a goal worth attaining.

3D printing

Printing objects is increasingly being accepted as normal throughout the world. Though 3D printers are very expensive, requiring more resources than its 2D counterpart, it also opens up a host of opportunities. As the Harvard Law Review notes:

“Medical technologies often are expensive when they enter the market, becoming cheaper over time, but many of the new 3D-printed solutions are coming in at a reasonable price point. This shift has the potential to disrupt the alarming trajectory of rising health care costs at exactly the moment when aging Baby Boomers will be putting more pressure on the health care system.”

Experts can now craft 3D-printed skin for burn victims or those that require it. Even babies can have their airways repaired on the tiniest of scales, due to the technical complexity in 3D-printing. What makes these particularly exciting, notes HBR, is “they’re designed to grow with the patient. The medical implant had been successfully tested in three children between the ages of three months and 16 months as of April 2015. The splints can be produced in a matter of hours, and they only cost about $10 per unit.”

Not only does it cost less to produce these new medical objects, but they’re also more precise since they are viewed on a computer beforehand. This means before being physically created, they can be manipulated digitally. 3D-printing also costs less due to a lack of waste, since it only prints what’s needed. Unlike previous medical technology, you had to craft it out of material that was then merely wasted. (Think of a marble block creating a statue: you can now print exactly the statue you want, while the older form of creation meant carving away.)  

Precision is also essential for all forms of medical intervention. Reducing waste is a by-product of efficiently creating medical objects. Any mistakes could result in the patient suffering. A poorly made prosthetic, for example, could cause pain. But using proper measurements and precise 3D-printing capabilities means reducing this chance dramatically.

End of disease

As always, healthcare is very concerned with eradicating disease. One of the worst in recent years has been HIV/Aids. Recent studies provide enormous promise. As Al Jazeera reports: “a drug already taken by thousands of people for intestinal conditions appeared to control the monkey version of HIV.” This is building off research showing dramatic declines in mortality as a result of being infected with the virus. It is now no longer a death sentence, but can be managed. Though it is not a cure, it still shows how incredibly advanced medicine has become.

Indeed, influencers like Mark Zuckerberg have put their fortune behind curing all disease. The idea is not so far fetched, given time and money – both of which, within just this century, saw people travel to the moon and back, create the internet and talk to thinking machines.

The future of healthcare is hopeful, though it will take some time before any big announcements happen.

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