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Dubai has a strong reputation regionally for private healthcare. It has been reported that in 2016 $390 million in revenues were generated from medical tourism alone. This figure is an approximate 9.5% increase in revenues from the year before and is expected to increase as the emirate aims to attract 500,000 medical tourists by 2020.
The Dubai Health Authority (DHA) has recently revised policies as it aims to meet the 2020 goal. The UAE private medical sector is well established and home to many international and homegrown brands. These revisions hope to encourage smart and innovative companies to the UAE. In addition to accreditation revisions, the DHA has eased the process for individual applicants. Registrations can now be done using a new online platform (Sheryan), and applicants from places such as the UK and US can complete the whole process via an online test.
One of the elements of medical tourism that must be considered is the planning of facilities. The UAE has a population of 9.2 million people but medical tourism attracts hundreds of thousands more. Differing to regular tourists, medical tourists may require a hospital to stay in. This makes medical real estate prime real estate. In 2016 the UAE had 2300 medical facilities, in 2017 this had grown to 3115. The Government’s ease of restrictions in recent years has made this growth possible and we are expecting 15 new hospitals to open in 2018.
At the Healthcare Investment Forum, the DHA stated that by creating an open healthcare market they were ensuring the quality of care would increase over time as providers not offering the best service would not see the business they need to operate. The DHA also said that an economic formula based on the requirements of patients, and not commercialism, was the only way to succeed and encouraged insurance companies, healthcare providers, and government, to enact the highest possible standards with patients in mind.
As part of Dubai’s Happiness initiative, the DHA said it has been tasked with creating a preventative healthcare mindset within the populace. This makes good sense, as nobody is happy when they feel unwell! But Dubai has not stopped with the present, it is looking at the future as well with focus on genetic sequencing and genome research high on the agenda.
Dubai has always been a city people talk about, usually in terms of glitz and glamour. But, somewhat unfairly, these headlines have detracted from the emirate’s efforts to be a world leader in many areas of society, healthcare included.