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Innovative to Improve Pediatric Health Globally
Episode

Dr.Bariah Dardari, Head Of Department Child Health at Fakeeh University Hospital

Innovative to Improve Pediatric Health Globally

In this episode, we are privileged to host the outstanding Dr. Bariah Dardari, a leading health expert in child health who established the first pediatric integrative medicine clinic in the UAE and Head of Department Child Health at Fakeeh University. Dr. Dardari talks about her inspiration as a pediatrician, how she is adding value to healthcare through the delivery of an integrative model, addressing the needs of the underserved population such as refugees, and more. She also talks of her work at Reach, bridging the big gap in UAE and Dubai in terms of care for special services, and the role of parents in promoting the needs of kids with special needs. If you are interested in the issue of child health worldwide, this episode is one you shouldn’t miss!

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Innovative to Improve Pediatric Health Globally

About Bariah Dardari MD, FAAP, ABP, ABIHM

Dr. Bariah is a leading expert in child health, with more than 20 years of experience. She graduated from Damascus University School of Medicine in Syria, then went to New York Methodist Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, to complete her training. Dr. Bariah started her role as Consultant Pediatrician at American Hospital Dubai in 2006, providing care for premature newborns, inpatient care for all pediatric patients on the ward, emergency care and treatment such as biomedical interventions. She then joined Al Zahra hospital as a Head of the Pediatrics Department in 2013. She is currently the head of the Department of Child Health at Fakeeh University. 

Outcomes Rocket Podcast_Bariah Dardari.mp3: Audio automatically transcribed by Sonix

Outcomes Rocket Podcast_Bariah Dardari.mp3: this mp3 audio file was automatically transcribed by Sonix with the best speech-to-text algorithms. This transcript may contain errors.

Saul Marquez:
Hey everybody! Welcome back to the Outcomes Rocket, Saul Marquez here. Today, I have the privilege of hosting the outstanding Dr. Bariah Dardari. She is a physician and leading expert in child health with more than 20 years of experience. She established the first pediatric integrative medicine clinic in the UAE, the United Arab Emirates, with the following profiles of pediatric consultant at Hackensack Pediatrics, a neonatologist in the past, Consultant Pediatrician at the American Hospital in Dubai. She has extensive experience working with pediatrics and also the NICU, you just a very talented physician leader that’s also focused on benefiting a broader range of communities across different sectors to improve access is one of her main goals. And so today we’re going to be having a great conversation with Dr. Dardari. I am so privileged to have you here, Doctor. Welcome.

Dr. Bariah Dardari:
Thank you. Thank you, Saul for this opportunity. I’m excited as well.

Saul Marquez:
Yeah. And so, you know, before we start kind of diving into some of the things that you’re seeing and doing in the field, talk to us a little bit about what inspires your work and health care.

Dr. Bariah Dardari:
Sure. I think it’s going to sound cheesy, but to me, health care is not just a job or a career. I think what inspires me in health care is that you’re providing a service to your patients, your community, and your fellow humans. I really like the human connection of a physician, especially a pediatrician, and being with my patients throughout their life movement, be it a beautiful moment, such as meeting their first child for the first time or stressful moments during the illness and disease.

Saul Marquez:
Pediatric physicians are just such incredible people. I’ve never been with a physician like with my son and not felt like they cared. Like I mean, you guys just have the biggest hearts.

Dr. Bariah Dardari:
Thank you. I think they make it easy, you know, big smile, their innocence. You know.

Saul Marquez:
That’s so true. And so, you know, you do a lot of very interesting work. You’ve worked at the front lines. You’ve done a lot of work at the administrative level as well. Talk to us about how you believe you’re adding value to the health care ecosystem.

Dr. Bariah Dardari:
So currently in my control, I work in a newly established university hospital in Dubai and we have the vision to create a one-stop-shop for our pediatric patients, usually traditionally in the Middle East and the Emirates, all the services were fragmented. So parents have to go to different places. There’s no coordination. So we want to kind of have this new concept into the region which would reflect well on the quality of care of our little patients. We also plan to promote more integrative medicine and become an integrative medicine hub that brings in allopathic medicine approaches side by side with traditional medicine such as Chinese medicine, homeopathy, naturopathy. So because we feel that patient globally, we see a global trend of patients in wanting to use that integrative model rather than just focusing on the disease model of Western medicine.

Saul Marquez:
I think that’s so great. And just having the openness to include some of those things is really important. One of the things that happens often, at least on the stateside, is that we get so caught up with can I bill for this? Is there a payment model behind this? Is that something you guys run into over there, too, or not as much?

Dr. Bariah Dardari:
Absolutely. And we actually have more obstacles because we adopted the insurance model, but it’s still immature. So there’s actually more like, you know, resistance from the insurance company to cover for certain integrative or non-traditional medicines. So definitely the same thing.

Saul Marquez:
The same challenge.

Dr. Bariah Dardari:
Absolutely.

Saul Marquez:
I feel like in general, when we work with the pediatric population, especially when you’re working in the NICU., I mean such fragile kids that need options, there tends to be a little more tolerance for deviating from the norm to help them.

Dr. Bariah Dardari:
We always have to be an advocate for the patient, need to for the NICU, paid for special needs kids and sometimes need to have a battle with the insurance company, basically. So, yeah, but it’s a constant struggle in this basically insurance model type of medicine that we have here as well in the U.A.E.

Saul Marquez:
Got it. Got it. Now, that’s good to know. So what would you say makes what you do different or better than what’s available today?

Dr. Bariah Dardari:
I think I look at the patient in a holistic manner, although like in medical school, we usually focus on the physical part of the exam or the complaint of the patient. I think as I had more training in integrative medicine, I learned to look at the physical, emotional, psychological, spiritual needs of the patient. So rather than just addressing the complaint that the patient is coming with in my office, I try to find the root cause of the complaint. I also think that my volunteer work really adds value to me as a physician, basically, rather just always being paid for my services and also help address the needs of the underserved population such as refugees, and maybe make a dent in the gap of the global health inequities that we have currently. So, yeah.

Saul Marquez:
Yeah, Doctor, I think it’s so great that you’re engaged in that and obviously, a big reason why you’re a part of the KOL Group at Reach is this interest for greater access and greater care across the spectrum. Not necessarily if you have insurance or not. It’s about how do we address the health needs of the broader population? And it sounds like you’re doing quite a bit there. And as a result of it, you’re seeing and learning and gaining appreciation for the things that could really help across your normal practice, your day-to-day.

Dr. Bariah Dardari:
In KOL, we are focusing on the health inequity. I think of it made it a bit difficult to kind of engage with underserved populations, especially beyond your country borders. But I think telemedicine also at the same time is helping us reach a bit of that gap.

Saul Marquez:
For sure. How has what you do improved outcomes or made business better?

Dr. Bariah Dardari:
There has been a big gap in the UAE and Dubai when I moved here in 2006. When it comes to care for special kids, services barely existed at the time. So I was happy to help to focus on providing care for these patients. And I think 14 years later, I can say that the situation is changing to the better, not just to thanks to me, but there’s a lot of players, parents, physician, who also helped create that awareness that these patients have potentials and they need to be integrated into the classroom, into the society, removing the stigma around the topic of autism or special needs, anything like living in the UAE that was promoting really the rise of special needs kids. They actually changed the name to children with determination. I think it’s amazing, just the name itself and the hope and value.

Saul Marquez:
I was going to say that I can say that’s hope, like your work and you’re determined to make it out of what we have here, too. Yeah. You know, it certainly provides additional challenges when you know the system and the culture doesn’t help. It sounds like with you guys, it’s certainly made a shift to children with determination is a great way to look at it and something that we should consider here in the US.

Dr. Bariah Dardari:
I think the parents are the best advocate and they just basically behind them because they really have the energy and the motivation.

Saul Marquez:
So that’s beautiful. That’s beautiful. And so as you reflect on the work that you’ve done, Dr. Dardari, what would you say you’re most proud of in your career?

Dr. Bariah Dardari:
I think that same work with special needs kids and their family, I think because they tend to be underserved because of the interest limitation. By the way, some insurance exclude these conditions from coverage and as well as sometimes exploited by certain health care providers, basically providing unnecessary treatment or false hopes or basically sham treatments, it’s very important for the parents to have like somebody to guide them. You have to do this to do that. And I learned a lot from them at the same time. They really they appreciated the small gains. They have unconditional love for their kids, regardless of their ability. So, yeah. So it was a growing experience for me to provide service to this population.

Saul Marquez:
That’s definitely something that you could go to bed at night and say, yeah, you know, I did great things today. You don’t have to get creative right. you just go, you do your job and you’re doing great things.

Dr. Bariah Dardari:
I hope so.

Saul Marquez:
So how about on the business side, Dr. Dardari, what would you say is your most proud business accomplishment?

Dr. Bariah Dardari:
Well, doctors are not very good businessmen. They don’t teach us business in medical school. But we learned the hard way. And I think I had the opportunity, great opportunities here in Dubai because it’s an evolving market. So I have two new hospitals, one eight years ago where we started a hospital from scratch. We built the pediatric department from scratch and grew in five years to a full-fledged floor for pediatric care. Now in my new role. It’s pretty recent in the past six months. We’re trying to do the same, but hopefully better results.

Saul Marquez:
That’s fantastic. It’s not easy to start anything from scratch.

Dr. Bariah Dardari:
It’s challenging. I like the challenge of commissioning something new. And it’s like the work in progress. And I’m fortunate.

Saul Marquez:
Yeah. And it’s super rewarding. Right. when, you know, like before you came, it was just a patch of land.

Dr. Bariah Dardari:
Absolutely

Saul Marquez:
Right? And when you leave it’s just like building with services and processes and procedures and just care. That’s just a great way to say, wow, I left this place better than when I came to what would you say? And I’m sure it wasn’t easy to do. And maybe it’s an experience with establishing a new hospital or something else. But talk to us about what you believe is one of the biggest setbacks you’ve experienced and a key learning that that’s come out of that church.

Dr. Bariah Dardari:
I think also like living in Dubai, we have like 120 different nationalities. So sometimes it’s so hard to communicate with different people from different backgrounds. As a professional, I had been the challenge of being demoted from a role unfairly, I think, and being replaced with less qualified candidate. Initially, I thought it was a setback, but I think there’s always a silver lining in everything that happens. It’s freed my time to work on different skills, learn new skills, getting train in different areas such as the refugee, health and mental health. So looking at it now, like, say, four years later, it’s really not a setback. On an individual level, I had several health issues and crises the past two years, and I was always like this dynamo energetic person and kind of pushed me to slow down, you know, by force. But it also kind of put me in the patient’s shoes. So I think it’s affected on my relationship with patients. Made me a better physician.

Saul Marquez:
That’s wonderful. I’m glad you’re doing well. And, you know, there’s nothing like being. I mean, if you’ve been there and you’ve experienced hardship, you know, you don’t have to imagine. And the empathy absolute.

Dr. Bariah Dardari:
I was in a wheelchair for three months because of my tibia. And now every time I see a patient in wheelchair, I’m like, I really feel what you’re feeling right now.

Saul Marquez:
So trust me I’ve been there. And so your tibia is nice and healed. You’re walking.

Dr. Bariah Dardari:
Yeah. Yeah. Thank God. And until the next fracture notorious a fracture in my voice. But for now, I’m in one piece. Yeah.

Saul Marquez:
Oh my God. Well, I’m so glad you’re doing well. And yeah, that’s a good reminder. I just the importance of putting yourself in somebody else’s shoes, it’s important to do. And so as you think about the work ahead, there’s so much to do. What would you say you’re most excited about today?

Dr. Bariah Dardari:
A lot. I’m excited about this new role as chair of the child’s health department in the university hospital that I work in Dubai, Fakeeh University. And also, I’m really excited about being part of the REACH KOL Leader group. I learned a lot from them, and I hope that I can, with their help, have an impact beyond my local level here in the UAE. Um, I think as an individual, I’m excited about the health basically the post COVID hopes and every day’s opportunity if I can join small moments with family appreciating nature and growing spiritually as well.

Saul Marquez:
That’s wonderful. That is just wonderful. Yeah. And Reach does such a great job of thought leadership and public health and doing it at a global scale. I think they’re just a wonderful organization. So they’re a good group. But if you have to pick one person that you could have lunch with anyone. Who would It be?

Dr. Bariah Dardari:
Dr. Amani Ballour. I don’t know her personally, but she’s actually a Syrian pediatrician like me. But she had the honor of serving the kids during the war, the Syrian war between two thousand sixteen and twenty-eighteen. She actually ran an underground field hospital in the conflict zone of Eastern Ghouta near the capital, Damascus. And they actually had a documentary film made it’s called The Cave, where her hospital was. And it was actually done by National Geographic and was nominated for the Academy Awards. I really would like to sit with her and learn from her how she kept going and kept her resilience for two years, providing care with like the most challenging environment. And lack of medication equipment. So hopefully I’ll get to do that.

Saul Marquez:
Well, if you are listening to this, Dr. Ballour considered it an invitation.

Dr. Bariah Dardari:
I think she lives currently in Turkey.

Saul Marquez:
It’s not super far. Right. How far is Turkey?

Dr. Bariah Dardari:
Just three, four-hour flight from Dubai.

Saul Marquez:
Yeah, easy, easy. That’s a one-day trip up. So what would you say is your number one health habit?

Dr. Bariah Dardari:
And I meditate and pray five times a day. I wasn’t very good in meditation until I broke my leg and had to sit and basically give me time to meditate. But it’s really and then I kept going on it and it really helped me recenter my focus during the day, you know, renew my attention toward everything through my work. My patients give me positive energy to support the patient during a stressful situation. It’s pretty powerful.

Saul Marquez:
And when you do meditations, how long are they do you vary the length? I’m just curious.

Dr. Bariah Dardari:
Yeah. I mean, during the work time of the day, Prager’s basic meditation, they’re very short because you have to go back to work, you have to have meetings. But at the end of the day, the nights one and early, one morning, usually longer, they vary between half an hour to an hour. Sets me up for the day.

Saul Marquez:
Good for you. That’s awesome. And yeah, I like to do usually nighttime meditation before bed, but I find it difficult to get them in during the day. I just haven’t had had any success with that. So I admire your dedication to this and I know it and I know it’s super beneficial.

Dr. Bariah Dardari:
It is. Sometimes I can’t keep it up because it’s like this schedule been very busy or you realize that you missed opportunity. But the majority of time we try to stick to it.

Saul Marquez:
Yeah, that is amazing. What would you say is the best advice you ever received?

Dr. Bariah Dardari:
I think from one of my mentors is like, but when you have difficulty in communicating with a colleague, a patient is to remind yourself to that person when you’re really mad is to remember that the first and foremost a human being, really, that’s kind of shifts the way you look at them, the way you think of them and helps just melts away all the differences, personal, cultural, political differences. So it’s really helped me succeed as a physician dealing with difficult patients or a team member that we have a problem communicating with and it really strengthened my skill as a leader as well.

Saul Marquez:
And that’s great advice. It’s just we’re human and it doesn’t matter where you’re from. We’re all human. I mean, we’re here. I’m in the Chicago area. You’re in the United Arab Emirates. And we’re awesome conversation about how health.

Dr. Bariah Dardari:
Absolutely. I love this. I love it, too. And that’s what I love about Dubai, too, because you can challenge you to deal with people with different backgrounds, culture, languages. So, you know, it’s interesting every day.

Saul Marquez:
Yeah. That I think that’s fantastic. Well, this has been wonderful, Dr. Dardari. I’ve really enjoyed our time together here. Before we conclude, can you share a closing thought and where the listeners could get in touch with you?

Dr. Bariah Dardari:
Sure, sure. I’m actually available on LinkedIn and also they’re welcome to email me at my personal email. bdardari@yahoo.com. I think the closing thought will be basically appreciation for the health care workers and physician, because before COVID there was like an era where there is a notion of mistrust, disrespect toward physicians and health care worker, that sometimes suspicion about their motives, that they’re working for profit, that, you know. So, fortunately, this has changed with the COVID and the appreciation for health care workers in science has increased dramatically. I just want to remind listeners of that. And it’s an honor and it’s a service as a scientist or physician or anybody working in medicine. And also we need to encourage our youth to get involved and not to be dismissive of it. My little ones when I ask them, would you want to be when you grow up, they will say, I want you to want to be a vlogger. What happened to I want to be a doctor. So this but there’s still hope out there. I just had two of my patients shadow me actually last two weeks because now they’re interested in medicine. It was rewarding. I think there are still kids out there interested in medicine, which is great.

Saul Marquez:
That is awesome. Yeah, that is so funny that you said that. Yeah. And it’s interesting how the different generations change, you know, and I think ultimately we will see a lot of these desires to be Youtubers and things like that, like, I would say mature. And we’ll see things like, oh yeah, you know, there is an opportunity to do something beyond film a video.

Dr. Bariah Dardari:
I hope so. I hope so.

Saul Marquez:
Well, Dr. Dardari, you’re an amazing person. I appreciate you spending time with us here, sharing your insights and the wonderful work that you do in pediatrics globally. I can’t thank you enough for spending time with us today.

Dr. Bariah Dardari:
Oh, thank you so much for the opportunity and hopefully will meet and will basically and this talk will add value and anything we do that hopefully in life.

Saul Marquez:
Yeah, it definitely will. And we’re looking forward to it. So thanks again, Dr. Dardari.

Dr. Bariah Dardari:
Thank you so much for the opportunity.

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Things You’ll Learn

  • We always have to be an advocate for the patient. 
  • Business is not taught in medical school, so doctors have to learn business the hard way.
  • When setbacks happen, there’s always a silver lining. 
  • Putting yourself in your patient’s shoes made me a better physician.
  • Meditating can help recenter your focus and renew your attention toward your work.

Resources

LinkedIn : https://ae.linkedin.com/in/bariah-dardari-55637667

Email: bdardari@yahoo.com