Dubai's booming health sector was in need of a robust model that could facilitate and implement the highest international standards. The new Dubai Health Strategy 2016-2021 has laid out the path and aims to put the Emirate's healthcare sector at the forefront of global standards.

HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, launched, in January 2016, the Dubai Health Strategy 2021 to consolidate Dubai's health sector. The new strategy aims to fortify the health sector over the next five years through four main approaches, six objectives, 15 programs, and 93 initiatives.

Last year, 15,000 medical tourists from the UAE, the GCC, Asia, and Europe used 1,400 of Dubai's 2,900 healthcare facilities. The Emirate now plans to attract 170,000 medical tourists this year, generating revenues of about $300 million and attracting 500,000 tourists by 2020. It is no surprise that, with these figures, expectations are on the rise.

During 2015, the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) undertook a stakeholder engagement initiative in order to draft a patient-centric health strategy. The initiative was divided into three phases in which DHA employees, 90 members of the public and private health sector, and Dubai residents were asked to share their ideas on improvements for the sector. The result was the Dubai Health Strategy 2021.

The four approaches of the strategy are health and lifestyle, smart healthcare, excellence in providing service, and governance. Through these approaches the strategy aims to achieve six goals: providing a high-quality comprehensive and integrated health service system, improving efficiency, creating a healthy and safe environment for Dubai's residents, achieving innovation, and creating an integrated database to help create evidence-based policies. Furthermore, the strategy also aims to cultivate a healthy environment for partnerships and collaboration between the public and private sectors.

The strategy marks a policy shift toward preventive healthcare and Dubai wants to raise awareness about the importance of regular check-ups and instill a culture of early detection in order to reduce the dangerous impacts of malignant diseases. HE Dr. Raja Al Gurg, Vice-Chairperson and Executive Director of Dubai Healthcare City Authority (DHCA), told TBY, “a world-class healthcare system that focuses on preventative and wellness is paramount to driving the country's development."

The Dubai Health Strategy 2021 is set to improve Dubai's healthcare services and lay the groundwork for it to achieve its ambition of becoming the primary medical destination within the UAE and the wider region. Through optimizing investment of financial and human resource, Dubai will attract further capital into the health sector and drive the health sector's competitiveness.