Dubai's healthcare sector is at the forefront of innovation, and with new regulations and an emphasis on research, the Emirate is going to be that much more advanced than its regional neighbors.
Dubai prides itself on its highly developed health infrastructure, as well as one of the highest standards of health in the region. The Emirate’s medical facilities are vast and equipped with the most state-of-the-art technology, offering top-quality medical serves to Emiratis and expats alike.
Created in 2007, the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) oversees the health system in the Emirate and is helmed by Hamdan bin Rashid. In addition to acting as a regulator, the authority provides healthcare services via hospitals and facilities it manages and also designs policies and strategies aimed at keeping the population healthy. Healthcare in the Emirate is a key aspect of the Dubai 10X Initiative, a plan to put Dubai, the government, and all its sectors 10 years ahead of the world. To this end, DHA recently announced plans for a comprehensive human genome project, which it hopes will help further competency among practitioners as well as make predictions about the future health of the country. DHA is targeting all residents of the Emirate to collect samples and record results in order to create a first-of-its-kind national genetic database, which will help detect changes in genes, proteins, and chromosomes that can trigger disease and allow DHA to engineer an appropriate strategy in response.
Recent regulatory changes have seen the Emirate’s traditionally fragmented healthcare services become more consolidated. Dubai now has close to 2,000 healthcare facilities, and the new regulations are likely going to restructure the industry in significant ways. While it will likely become more difficult for smaller operators and non-strategic investors to operate successful practices, the system throughout the country will become more streamlined and uniformed with the goal of increasing efficiency.
Dubai has seen a considerable growth in the number of physicians and manpower in the sector in recent years. According to DHA, as of 2016, there were approximately 8,614 registered physicians in the Emirate. This equates to an impressive increase of 80.7% since 2010. Dubai has also seen a slight increase in the rate of physicians per 1,000 people, increasing a decimal point to 3.4 in 2016 compared to the previous year. The number of those physicians working in the private sector is considerably higher than those working for DHA. In 2016, the total number of patients in the country was 28,676, all of which were treated in the Emirates’ six governmental hospitals or 26 private hospitals. The number of patients represents a 2.8% YoY increase from 2015. According to DHA, private care providers accounted for more than two-thirds of inpatient services, at approximately 69.3%, with DHA caring for the remaining 28.5%
The Emirate is hard at work building its reputation as a destination for medical tourism. The DHA-conceived Dubai Health Experience (DXH) aims to do just that, created with the purpose of making Dubai a preferred destination for global medical tourism. The DXH is looking to bring in half a million medical tourists by 2020, which the DHA hopes will effectively place Dubai on the map for medical tourism.
Dubai is busy not just implementing the state-of-the-art technology that lines its facilities, it is also hard at work conducting research and working to revolutionize the sector itself. TBY recently met with Dr. Ramadan Alblooshi, the CEO of Dubai Healthcare City Authority-Regulatory (DHCR), the Emirate’s healthcare economic free zone, who described developments happening at the healthcare city that are making Dubai a global leader. “We have several projects in the pipeline that will enhance the UAE’s medical research efforts,” he said. “By YE2017, we will have completed the largest biomedical research center in the region, Al Jalila Foundation Research Center, at Dubai Healthcare City. The center will focus on providing medical research globally with five initial target areas, including diabetes and obesity. This will attract more researchers to join us, along with the biggest pharmaceutical companies.”