The UAE has a comprehensive, government-funded health service and a rapidly developing private health sector that delivers a high standard of health care to the population. In many parts of the UAE, health care delivery is undergoing a significant transformation.
Most of the infectious diseases like malaria, measles and poliomyelitis that were once endemic in the UAE have been eradicated, while pre-natal and post-natal care is on par with the world's most developed countries: the new-born (neonate) mortality rate has been reduced to 5.54 per 1000 and infant mortality to 7.7 per 1000. Maternal mortality rates have dropped to 0.01 for every 100,000.
As a consequence of this high standard of care at all stages of the health care system, life expectancy at birth in the UAE, at 78.3 years, has reached levels similar to those in Europe and North America. To date, health care in the UAE has, by and large, been funded by the Government. As with other sectors, this emphasis is evolving and public-private partnerships are becoming more important.
Public policy focuses on developing organizational and legal frameworks based on best practice, to upgrade the private and public sector health service capabilities. In addition, public policy action will set priorities for health services development within the sector.
Health Care Transformation in Abu Dhabi
Health care delivery in Abu Dhabi is undergoing a significant transition that will affect the entire spectrum of stakeholders: patients (citizens and expatriates), providers and those responsible for planning, assuring the quality of services and financing the health system. Key objectives for the Health Authority in Abu Dhabi are to:
- Improve quality of care, always the primary consideration, to be promoted through application of rigorous service standards and performance targets for all.
- Expand access to services, giving all residents access to the same standard of care with the power to choose health care services thus promoting excellence through free-market competition.
- Shift from public to private providers safely and efficiently so that private providers, rather than government, services health care needs, with the role of government restricted to the development and enforcement of new, world-class health care standards.
- Implement a new financing model through a new system of mandatory health insurance.
Compulsory insurance for all workers, including domestic, is funded by sponsors. The compulsory health insurance plan for private sector employees, as implemented in Abu Dhabi, will come into effect across the country in 2008. Hallmarks of the new system include a clear and transparent reimbursement process, affordable access for all residents and reliable funding for quality health care in Abu Dhabi.
A charitable fund will continue to operate for underinsured expatriates and also cover more serious medical conditions such as cancer, dialysis, polytrauma and disability.
A new unified health insurance system in Dubai for nationals and non-nationals is also planned and it is expected that the scheme will eventually be rolled out across the country.
The UAE is working with leading global institutions to develop its health care system. The UAE seeks to become a major center for world-class health care in the Middle East, for its own residents, as well as those in the region. A number of the partnerships are with US-based institutions:
- The Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi is in development and will be a world-class specialty hospital and clinic.
- The Johns Hopkins Medical School manages health care systems in Abu Dhabi, including the 469-bed Tawam Hospital.
- The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation has a partnership with the UAE government for breast cancer education.
Opportunities for US Companies
Opportunities for U.S. companies include trade missions, health care-specific trade exhibitions, and many U.S. – U.A.E. partnership opportunities. As recently as January 2011, the U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council and Pharma co-led a successful healthcare trade mission to Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Also, sector specific trade shows and exhibitions are held annually at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre and Dubai World Trade Center. Sectors on the rise within U.A.E. Healthcare market include a few specific sectors. The largest, pharmaceuticals, are growing annually at 9.96% and will reach $3.58 billion by 2019. Medical Devices are growing as well to the tune of $361 million with U.S. imports accounting for 28.5% of the total.
A promising partnership between Cleveland Clinic and Mubadala Healthcare was formed in 2006 to create the Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi. Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi is dedicated to bring high-quality medicine to the Emirate as well as the rest of the Middle East region. Likewise, Dubai’s New Medical Center has completely redefined the term “healthcare provider” by providing high-quality and cutting-edge medical treatment, and by diversifying their healthcare business into a range of associated business sectors.
New Medical Center: www.nmc.ae
Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi: www.my.clevelandclinic.org/departments/abudhabi/clevelandclinicinabudhabi.aspx
Health Authority of Abu Dhabi: www.haad.ae
Mubadala Health Care: www.mubadala.ae/sectors/healthcare/
Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Center: www.adnec.com
Dubai World Trade Center: www.dwtc.com