Led by the Department of Health – Abu Dhabi (DoH), the regulator of the healthcare sector, in collaboration with strategic partners, the health sector in the emirate continues efforts to enhance child protection capacities, in line with Federal Law No. 3 of 2016 on Child Rights (Wadima’s Law).
The child protection ecosystem in Abu Dhabi is composed of Abu Dhabi Public Health Centre, an affiliate of DoH, and the entity in charge of enhancing the ecosystem of public and protective health in the emirate, Sheikh Khalifa Medical City, Family Care Authority, and Abu Dhabi Police.
The Child Protection Guide was circulated to healthcare providers in the emirate, which includes guidelines on services and measures required to be taken to protect children, supporting the health sector’s key aims to provide best services to children while taking the necessary measures to ensure their safety.
The Child Protection Guide outlines a unified work mechanism for health facilities in the emirate to report cases of abuse and neglect, provide certified training programmes for health workers on child protection and early disclosure of abuse, to develop preventative, curative and psychological healthcare capacities, as well as child health guidance, nutrition and protection.
The Child Protection Guide states that healthcare providers in the emirate must cooperate and coordinate with Sheikh Khalifa Medical City, which has a dedicated unit for child protection equipped with the capacities for supporting cases and receiving referrals. Similar units will be opened soon in Al Ain city and Al Dhafra Region.
Dr Omniyat Al Hajeri, Executive Director of Community Health Sector at Abu Dhabi Public Health Centre (ADPHC) and Chairperson of the Higher Committee for the Development of Child Protection in the Healthcare Sector in Abu Dhabi, said: “We are committed to maintaining the health and safety of all children through ensuring their availability and accessibility to world-class healthcare services in the emirate.
“We believe that a healthy and sound upbringing is essential for all children, and we are committed to elevating our efforts toward achieving the vision of a healthy and safe society as part of continuous to provide a safe environment for children to grow and develop, the Child Protection Guide is a vital step towards contributing to the improvement of the quality of healthcare services provided to them and magnifying efforts between all parties to support children and meet their needs across all fronts.
“The guide and reporting forms will strengthen monitoring and following up on cases of neglect or abuse, ensuring their accuracy, and contributing to the development of intervention and prevention strategies.”
His Excellency Eng. Thamer Rashid Al Qasimi, Executive Director of ECA’s Special Projects and Partnerships Sector, said: “ECA has established an integrated child protection system to serve as a general framework focuses on the key roles of all entities concerned with activating the system in Abu Dhabi, in alignment with all federal and local laws and policies. The system features all procedures to be followed by relevant entities and child protection specialists while handling child cases, to ensure the child protection system is strengthened from prevention to rehabilitation.”
Her Excellency Asma Al Azri, Executive Director of Family Cases Sector at Family Care Authority, said: “In our commitment to safeguarding the wellbeing of children in Abu Dhabi, the Family Care Authority recognises the critical importance of collaboration with the concerned entities.
“We stand united with the Department of Health - Abu Dhabi and the Abu Dhabi Public Health Centre in implementation of the Child Protection Guide and related reporting forms. This unified mechanism will strengthen the healthcare sector's ability to report suspected cases of abuse or neglect, ensuring children's safety and protection. Together we aim to enhance the quality of healthcare services for children and empower intervention, prevention strategies and proactive measures to manage cases, and we will continue striving to provide the best possible support to children, ensuring their wellbeing and a brighter future.”
Dr. Muna Alhammadi, Acting Chief Medical Officer at Sheikh Khalifa Medical City said: “We support educational awareness campaigns which aim to educate and guide community members on caring for children and maintaining their physical and mental wellbeing. We urge parents to make sure their children undergo routine medical checkups, as it is the responsibility of both parents and healthcare providers to protect children and prevent them from psychological and physical injuries that may affect their development.”
Studies have shown that children who have suffered abuse are more likely to have lower academic achievement rates and several long-term life-changing effects including behavioural, physical and mental health problems, including depression.