Dubai Health Authority (DHA) led as the Diamond Sponsor at this year’s Congress; the 3rd Annual World Medical Tourism & Global Health Congress (WMT&GHC) in an effort to strengthen its assets in medical tourism and further establish its position in the medical tourism industry. Dubai is a cosmopolitan hub, global city, and an attractive destination for tourists from all over the world. As a leader in medical tourism amongst healthcare clusters around the world, Dubai is continuing to rapidly work towards strengthening its healthcare assets and service capabilities.
The Gulf Cooperation Council, one of the seven governing components of the Middle East, includes the United Arab Emirates with Dubai as its commercial capital. Dubai has a population of 2.2 million people, predominantly young, and Dubai’s population is expected to grow by more than one million by 2020. Active, young and urbanized, Dubai sees its residents’ needs and lifestyle changing. The GCC population is growing and developing special healthcare needs, especially in terms of chronic diseases. According to Ms. Laila Al Jassmi, CEO Health Policy and Strategy Sector at Dubai Health Authority, life expectancy is rising in the GCC, but obesity, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes are increasing as well, due to a more sedentary lifestyle. Today, the GCC has among the highest obesity rate in the world when compared to the health status of other nations.
“The healthcare service market was valued at $18 billion in 2008 and is expected to grow to $47 to 55 billion by 2020 in the GCC,” Al Jassmi said.
Thus, by increasing and improving its health care system in terms of access and service delivery, Dubai is well supplied with health professionals in comparison to the other countries and emirates in the GCC, ranking third behind Bahrain and Qatar according to the McKinsey report on healthcare in the GCC.
Both the public and private sectors of the healthcare industry is expanding. Today five public hospitals, twenty-six primary healthcare centers, seven specialty centers and sixteen dental clinics are registered in the public sector. In the private sector, eighteen hospitals have been listed as healthcare service providers. Dubai has planned an expansion of 19 more hospitals by 2013 according to Ms. Al Jassmi, increasing the total bed capacity to 63,650.
A world famous medical tourism destination for cosmetic surgery and rejuvenation packages, Dubai Health Authority is looking to position Dubai as an even more attractive hub in the medical tourism sector. DHA was created three years ago by His Highness Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai. As the strategic health authority for the Emirate of Dubai, the DHA is empowered to set, implement and assure policies and strategies for health.
“The DHA’s aim in Dubai is to provide an accessible, effective and integrated healthcare system, protect public health and improve the quality of life within the Emirate,” as stated by DHA Communications Analyst Kamakshi Gupta in a press release.
With expansion and progress in mind, Dubai assumed the lead this year at the World Medical Tourism and Global Health Care Congress by participating at the highest level as a Diamond Sponsor.
“In recent years, Dubai has seen a phenomenal growth in the health sector,” His Excellency Qadhi Saeed Al Murooshid, Director General of the DHA said. “Medical tourism is an integral aspect of our healthcare strategy, especially in the context of today’s global community and the DHA is keen to further strengthen and establish Dubai’s position on medical tourism and global healthcare map.”
Thus, His Excellency Murooshid on behalf of UAE Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed’s vision signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Medical Tourism Association at the 2010 WMT&GHC in Los Angeles.
The MOU serves as the beginning step in a bilateral agreement where both parties intend to work cooperatively towards further strengthening the medical tourism sector in the emirate of Dubai.
Buyers, sellers and facilitators are looking forward to seeing the positive outcomes of the MOU agreement, considered a major step for Dubai and a “great advantage for the medical tourism industry,” said MTA President Renee-Marie Stefano.
As medical tourism continues to progress amongst nations solidifying their positions as world-class healthcare clusters around the world, the opportunities for healthcare advances, technological progress and improved population health status abounds as well.