THE RIGHT DOSE

UAE, Dubai 2014 | HEALTH & EDUCATION | REVIEW: HEALTH

The healthcare sector is rapidly developing toward the realization of Dubai as a wellness hub. To achieve this goal, Dubai Healthcare Authority has put excellence in customer service at its core as it works to keep pace with population growth.

According to the Dubai Statistics Centre, the healthcare sector in the Emirate employed some 29,200 medical professionals in 2012, with about 20,000 specialists being employed by the private sector, including those currently located in Dubai Healthcare City (DHCC). Nurses constitute the vast majority of the trained professionals in the healthcare sector (11,000), while physicians number about 5,600. And this number is set to increase according to the DHA Strategy 2013-2025. The number of patients treated has also been following a stable growth pattern every year, with the overall number of patients in 2011 at 183,000, a number that reached 216,000 in 2012, including patients hospitalized in both public and private hospitals and clinics. If we look at the number of operations by segment, obstetric and general surgery score the highest, earning the first and second place in terms of type of operations conducted, at 16,900 and 13,200 procedures respectively. In 2012, about 100,000 operations we conducted, and this number is growing daily, as Dubai affirms itself as a medical hub, not only in the Middle East, but around the world.

In light of Dubai's population growth, the government has laid out the top priorities to be tackled by 2025. Access to healthcare is a fundamental need, according to the strategy, and new projects to be implemented over 2014 and the years to come are in line with the government strategy to guarantee everybody access to hospitals, with catchment areas of eight to 12 kilometers, and health centers, with catchment areas of three to five kilometers.

According to HE Eng. Essa Al Haj Al Maidoor, Director General of the DHA, the five pillars of the strategy will revolve around: prevention and awareness; easy access to health services; quality; investment; and competitiveness. In order to stick to this ambitious plan, the government has supported over 43 initiatives that will encompass all different segments of the healthcare sector.

STRATEGIC GOALS

Good health in Dubai is the first and ultimate goal of the strategy, and in order to maintain local health standards, the Emirate is pursuing campaigns, the purpose of which is to raise awareness on the importance of preventive care, as well as the importance of living a healthy lifestyle. The right path to success is a junction between access to world-class healthcare services, together with the right implementation of specific measures to prevent diseases and injuries from occurring in the first place.

Some of these measures include a campaign specifically built to reduce the incidence of diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular illness by raising awareness of underlying risk factors, such as tobacco consumption, unhealthy diets, and inadequate physical activity. Access to healthcare, early case detection, and effective treatment are the most crucial factors to be taken into consideration. The importance of access has so far led to a plan to inaugurate over 40 new primary healthcare centers located across the Emirate of Dubai.

Dr. Manal Taryam, CEO of Primary Healthcare (PHC) Sector at Dubai Health Authority, stressed how to achieve good health. “Primary healthcare is all about prevention," she told TBY, in a year that the company entered the Guinness Book of World Records for performing the largest ever diabetes screening campaign as part of a series of initiatives built to fight diabetes.

MEDICAL TOURISM

Dubai will build 22 hospitals as part of plans to attract 500,000 medical tourists a year and boost its economy by up to AED2.6 billion ($708.45 million) by 2020. Dubai's ambitious target is to attract 500,000 people for medical tourism by 2020. The high-class facilities of the Emirate, together with its balmy weather and famous landmarks, will serve to attract those looking to combine surgery with a holiday. According to the strategy, potential customers from many different destinations will be targeted, and Dubai's authorities expect a higher number of patients from the CIS, including Belarus, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan, as well as from South Asia and other GCC nations. Treatments to be offered will include a variety of services from different medical disciplines, including orthopedic and sports medicine, plastic surgery, ophthalmology, dental procedures, dermatology, preventive medicine, and skin care.

The DHA will also embark on a long-term collaboration with the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, the Department of Economic Development, DHCC, and the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners' Affairs in order to provide visitors with complete packages that include visas, accommodation, and city tours.

NEW PLAYERS TO THE HEALTH ARENA

The growing demand for access is pushing the healthcare sector to expand and build new hospitals, as well as health centers. Three significant new entries will be the Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Hospital, located on Sheikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Road, Al Maktoum Hospital in Jebel Ali's Al Maktoum Airport area, and Al Khawaneej Hospital.

According to HE Eng. Essa Al Haj Al Maidoor, Rashid Hospital's three-tower design has been inspired by HH Sheikh Mohammed's three-finger acknowledgment. The three fingers stand for victory, triumph, and love. The total capacity of the facility will be 900 beds, and it will be connected to state-of-the-art facilities, such as a mall and other recreational facilities. The new hospital will feature Dubai's unique signature through the development of six VIP rooms and seven royal suites. And needless to say, the strategy has been designed with green building standards at its heart, following the path of sustainable development Dubai has attached so much importance to. The construction area for the hospital is 100,000 sqm and, in light of the trend of pursuing medical tourism, the hospital will feature six new specialized health centers, one four-star and another five-star hotel, as well as villas and flats for staff accommodation, a mosque, and open spaces for children and families.