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Ras Al Khaimah | HEALTH & EDUCATION | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to S. Gurumadhva Rao, Vice Chancellor of the RAK Medical & Health Sciences University (RAKMHSU), on the further development of higher education, its key differentiators, and the need for qualified doctors.

Gurumadhva Rao
BIOGRAPHY
S. Gurumadhva Rao was born in India in 1950 and received his doctorate in pharmacology in Karnataka, India. He is currently Vice Chancellor of RAKMHSU, having previously served as the Registrar of the Manipal University for six years.

How will the higher education sector in Ras Al Khaimah develop in the near future?

If we compare the current education sector here with how it was 10 years ago, we can see vast improvements in terms of how it has developed. There has been rapid progress over the last decade. In the next three years, we have to contribute significantly to research, which is the most critical aspect for a university or any higher education institution. In our case, we have a team of researchers, especially in microbiology- and genetics-related research. Sheikh Saud has a great vision for the education sector. He has been reinforcing the ideology that education has to be of a high standard for all, regardless of nationality. He strongly believes that an education gives students the power to manage themselves and society. Since UAE nationals make up around 18% of the student body, no educational institution can survive without the support of expatriate students. Hence, every university should develop strategies to attract expats for higher education. This will be possible only when the university offers high quality education supported by world-class infrastructure and other facilities.

How do you differ from the universities in the free zones?

We have to go through the Ministry of Higher Education for every new program we start. We need the initial accreditation and licensing. We must have adequate infrastructure, facilities, and faculty for each program in order to ensure high quality. The standards set by Ministry of Higher Education affairs are excellent regulations required for higher education. Institutions in the free zone do not have to meet the same regulations for their programs because their parent universities provide the degrees.

To what extent are qualified doctors needed in Ras Al Khaimah and the UAE?

Over the last 10 years, there has been a remarkable improvement in terms of hospitals opening in the UAE; this is necessary considering there is a never-ending demand. However, there is still room for more hospitals. With each new hospital, the need for more doctors naturally emerges. However, the cost of healthcare is still high. It is a challenge for the government and hospital authorities to make healthcare more affordable. The country cannot continue to depend on expatriate doctors. The Ministry of Health seeks to fill new positions with as many national doctors as possible. There is a high demand for psychiatrists at the moment. The Ministry of Health recently opened a psychiatric hospital, which demonstrates that it is paying greater attention to mental health in the UAE. A second area that needs more doctors is cancer treatment. There are not many facilities for oncology. In specialized surgeries, there are many cardiologists as well as high-tech surgeries. For diabetes, patients need not only doctors and surgery, but changes in lifestyles too. There are endocrinologists in the UAE, though they have to motivate their patients to stick to the necessary diets and lifestyle to be healthy.