In the past 10-15 years, Dubai had a growing health sector, but health services were largely provided by the public sector hospitals and clinics which accounted for most of the inpatient and outpatient care. However with our visionary government under HH Shk Mohamed Bin Rashid, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and with the improvement in health regulation and health insurance system, the private sector healthcare providers have contributed to developing a strong health ecosystem that they account for over 79 per cent of the utilisation for outpatient services, and over 74 per cent of inpatient services.

Dubai’s health sector has seen tremendous growth over the last few years, with the number of licensed health facilities growing to 4600 by March 2023. This increase includes private hospitals, specialised health centres, pharmacies, diagnostic centres, and dental centres.

The growth we see is supported by a rise in population, rising utilisation of health services specifically in the private sector, and the implementation of mandatory health insurance which has seen approximately 98 per cent of Dubai’s resident population covered by health insurance.

We would like to highlight The Dubai Health Investment Guide as a key initiative of the Dubai Health Investment Strategy aimed at providing investors and private sector health facilities with information on investment priorities and gaps in the health sector and to highlight the drive to focus on the investment growth in the health sector.

Next Step

The Guide has emphasized the short-term, three to four years have needs along the continuum of care – to develop and enhance services for chronic disease management, developing Centers of Excellence for Cardiology, Oncology, Diabetes, and other specialties, to enhance and improve access to long-term care, physical rehabilitation, and homebased care particularly to support the needs of the elderly and others with special needs in our Emirate, and to enhance and improve access to mental health services.

In the long term, we want to focus much more on population health management, value-based care supported by better clinical outcomes and efficiency for the health system, improvements and adoption of genetic medicine and precision medicine, and beyond-the-pill initiatives.

In addition, we believe investors and private sector providers need to understand the dynamics of Dubai Health System from the regulatory framework and licensing processes, the demographic profile and income segments, epidemiology and disease profiles, health investment needs and gaps to the reimbursement framework and insurance market which is unique and different from the health system they are used to.

Additionally, there are many lessons to be learned in developing infrastructure that is efficient and adaptable to future needs. There is a lot of innovation in healthcare, and technology is changing and shaping how healthcare is delivered to the patient. Thus there are new models of patient– centric healthcare and value-based healthcare, where effective measures are taken to appropriate health investments and services to achieve better clinical outcomes and efficiency of care and avoid over utilisation of services.

There are great examples across the world of integrated models of care, the development of centers of excellence, and the use of technologies to better monitor those with chronic conditions and provide remote patient management which will all be very useful for us to study as we develop our health system.

Other countries can also learn from Dubai where we are piloting many innovations and technologies through the Dubai Future Accelerator program and aligning with Dubai Economic Agenda D33 by supporting startup companies, therefore we lately have signed an MOU with DIEZ to strengthen the process of startup registration and involve the MedTech companies in the scientific process for the clinical trials.

In addition, we are open and welcoming of investors and providers from different parts of the world, as Dubai is ranked as one of the leading destinations with ease to set up a business and operating a business, and we have perhaps the greatest diversity in the workplace when compared to several other countries, as we have people from all over the world that have made Dubai their home.

Most of the information can be accessible within the investment guide, please visit the link below: https://www.dha.gov.ae/uploads/022022/Dubai%20Health%20Investment%20Guide%20en2022221649.pdf

Views expressed by Dr Ibtesam AlBastaki, Director- Investment and Public Private Partnership Department, Dubai Health Authority

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