Article #8 | Medical Tourism in UAE Holistic Healthcare, the Cosmopolitan Way
With its vibrant healthcare culture, innovative facilities, skilled human resource and ideal strategic location, the UAE is fast becoming one of the leading medical tourism hubs globally.
Over the last decade or so, medical tourism has gained a firm foothold across the world in various destinations. Driven by immediate medical needs and comparative low cost of healthcare, the industry continues to thrive with optimistic predictions of further growth. A number of countries are taking required measures to increase medical tourism traffic, many offering niche services with satisfactory results. From Switzerland to Taiwan to the US, it has become increasingly easier to make hassle-free visits to medical hubs.
In this context, the UAE has been extremely successful in marketing itself as the preferred medical tourism destination, largely propped the government’s aggressive approach. The country has taken a number of measures to promote itself which includes specifics visas and establishing healthcare speciality areas. Coupled with an excellent hospitality culture and strong aviation connectivity from all parts of the world, the UAE has become a formidable hub for medical tourists who want the best of quality and affordability. With over 200 nationalities living in the country, there is also a higher possibility of multi-lingual staff being present at healthcare institutions. For further ease, it also offers facilitating companies to help connect tourists with medical professionals that shortens the pretreatment time considerably.
The UAE is particularly popular among patients from the GCC countries, Africa, Europe and Asia, who mainly visit the country for its high quality medical treatment, professional expertise, ease of travel from home countries, sound infrastructure in healthcare and affordable medical services at par with those in a more developed country. Its geographical location also makes it easier for patients to make more cost-effective follow-up visits post surgeries.
Out of the 0.3 million tourists who visited Dubai hospitals last year, almost three million (46%) came from abroad. A major fraction of them came from Asia (around 43%), followed by GCC (29%), European countries (15%), African countries (7%) and the US (5%).
Besides the regular medical services offered for tourists in the UAE – including surgery, orthopaedics, ophthalmology, dental, treatments and specialised tests – the country’s healthcare puts special emphasis on increasing the number of facilities to avoid long waiting periods. For example, as per last years report by Collier’s International, the UAE has highest number of plastic surgeons (one per 18,000 residents), compared to the US (one per 50,000) and Brazil (one per 44,000).
Besides the regular medical services offered for tourists in the UAE – including surgery, orthopaedics, ophthalmology, dental, treatments and specialised tests – the country’s healthcare puts special emphasis on increasing the number of facilities to avoid long waiting periods.
Moreover, private sector has also been making concerted efforts to prominently place UAE on the medical tourism map. Besides technological expertise, hospitals are also training their medical staff to look after foreign patients and recruiting highly qualified doctors from other countries to add further value. In Dubai alone, 26 hospitals and over 1,000 clinics and ambulance care centres cater to medical tourists with the traffic growing from 12 to 15% year-on-year.
By 2020, the emirate aims to attract 500,000 tourists with tourism revenues anticipated at 700 million dollars. With the eye on this goal, Dubai recently launched the world’s first comprehensive electronic medical tourism portal, Dubai Health
Experience, which provides information on health, travel, hospitality and visa services at the click of a button. The portal also enables potential medical tourists to buy a medical malpractices insurance.
Just a short distance away from Dubai, RAK Hospital, part of the Arabian Healthcare Group, in the picturesque Ras Al Khaimah has also made great strides as a medical tourism hub. The hospital with its unique hospitality features stands tall among its peers for its relaxed, welcoming environment, scenic location and its many medical breakthroughs that highlight its innovative approach towards the field of medicine. Overlapping recreation with healthcare the hospital exudes a warm feeling of “light, life, hope” in its corridors. Winner of the ‘Best Healing Environment Award’ in 2011, and voted as a Superbrand by the Superbrands Institute multiple times, the hospital has won the trust in its foreign patients for the care they receive from the moment they are associated with the institution. With accreditation from an international affiliate agency Joint Commission International in US, the hospital matches the top quality healthcare expected from the best of institutions.
Known for imparting specialised care in cardiology, orthopaedic surgery, laparoscopy, ophthalmology and diabetes among other specialties, RAK Hospital brings under one roof doctors expert in their field from across the world. The arrangement allows patients from around the globe to find the best of human and technological expertise at the hospital. Moreover, renowned cardiologists, orthopaedic surgeons, paediatrics and the like make regular visits to RAK Hospital giving patients from across the region an opportunity to be treated by the best at a fraction of the cost they would ordinarily have to endure. To further fortify this relationship and provide travel comfort to their patients, the hospital has partnered with Ethiopian Airlines providing medical, logistical and recreational support to patients flying by the Airline from Africa.
RAK hospital has two Diabetes Centres running successfully in Ras Al Khaimah and Dubai, and RAK Eye Care Centre at the hospital premises. It is also operating representative offices in several countries including Ethiopia, Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, Oman and Afghanistan with plans to open more in Russia, Pakistan and Uganda.