Abu Dhabi Public Health Centre and PwC issue white paper on health equity and autism at Abu Dhabi Global Healthcare Week


Abu Dhabi Public Health Centre (ADPHC) and PwC have published a white paper titled Towards Health Equity: Bridging the Gap for Individuals with Autism through Public Policy and Technology during Abu Dhabi Global Healthcare Week (ADGHW), hosted by the Department of Health – Abu Dhabi (DoH), the regulator of the healthcare sector in the emirate.

The white paper recommends comprehensive public policies that support broader societal inclusion and economic opportunities, along with improvements in healthcare access and quality. This will ensure a holistic advancement towards health equity for individuals with autism, significantly enhancing their quality of life and accessibility of services, integrating their needs into the wider fabric of community and societal structures and moving towards a more inclusive and equitable health landscape.

His Excellency Dr. Ahmed Al Khazraji, Acting Director General of ADPHC Centre, said: “This white paper underscores our unwavering dedication to nurturing inclusive and equitable health environments for all members of our community. At ADPHC, we are resolute in our mission to protect public health, elevate health standards, and cultivate innovation through proactive initiatives and collaborative alliances. By integrating the health sector’s focus on prevention, cutting-edge digital tools, robust data, and the promotion of comprehensive public policy reforms, our objective is to substantially augment the quality of life and accessibility of services for individuals with autism, thereby advancing towards a more inclusive and equitable health ecosystem.”

The white paper features four key sections: The Impact of Social Determinants on Autism; Public Policy: Catalysing Improved Health Equity in Autism Care; Technology as an Enabler for Improving Health Equity for Individuals with Autism; and Actionable Public Policy Strategies for Technological Integration. Additionally, an exploration of the multifaceted challenges faced by those with autism is included in the white paper, which is intended to contribute to the development of evidence-based policies and programmes.

Autism Spectrum Disorder is a significant global public health concern, with 1 in 100 children globally affected, and an increasing prevalence in adults. The white paper aligns with Abu Dhabi’s priority of keeping the entire population healthy, both physical and mentally, and with the emirate’s support for the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, one of which is the promotion of good health and wellbeing for all.

Lina Shadid, partner and Health Industries Leader at PwC Middle East, said: “Access to healthcare is a universal need that governments must ensure for all their citizens, transcending potential social determinants, and reaching the most vulnerable members of society to ensure health equity. Too often we find that certain groups of individuals, such as those with autism, lack the support and resources needed from their healthcare ecosystem. Effective public policy, combined with technical transformation, can rapidly catalyse progress in bridging the gaps created by the social determinants of health, ensuring health equity for the entire population. We aspire to a future where health and social ecosystems worldwide embrace and empower individuals with autism, addressing their needs both in childhood and throughout adulthood with equal commitment.”

The white paper concludes with a call to action for stakeholders, including policymakers, healthcare providers, technology developers and the autism care community, to collaborate in nurturing an ecosystem that not only addresses but anticipates the needs of individuals with autism. By aligning efforts across these domains, the paper advocates for a society where health equity isn’t merely an aspiration, but a reality for all.


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