Dubai Health Authority (DHA) has unveiled a strategy to boost medical tourism in the emirate by 2020 with plans to make it a top global medical tourism destination.
The emirate attracted 107,000 medical tourists in 2012, generating revenues worth Dhs652.7 million, according to Dubai’s healthcare officials.
“By 2016 we expect a 15 per cent jump bringing the total number of tourists to 170,000 and the revenues to Dhs1.1billion and by 2020 if we consider a 20 per cent jump, it brings the number to 500,000 tourists and revenues to Dhs2.6 billion,” said Ramadan Ibrahim, director of the health regulation department and the director of the medical tourism project.
Officials added that the medical tourism strategy has been designed over two phases, with the first one chalked out until 2016 and the second phase until 2020.
“Dubai already has several elements that make it a favourable destination for medical tourism and developing a strategy helps ensure the complete process from the time a patient visits Dubai for medical tourism right through the discharge and follow-up stage is smooth,” said Essa Al Maidoor, director-general, DHA.
“We have carefully selected health services to be promoted taking quality and prices into consideration to attract tourists to the emirate.”
Healthcare officials added that Dubai’s medical sector is well regulated by authorities, which would in turn boost its appeal as a medical tourism destination.
“The number of health facilities in Dubai is around 2,518 and more than 70 per cent of our hospitals are internationally accredited, the emirate has more than 25, 846 health professionals in the private sector, who speak more than 40 languages,” said Ibrahim.
“All these factors will help drive the medical tourism initiative.”
He said that the ground work for the initiative began in the last quarter of 2012 while the health authority completed a thorough analysis of the existing market gaps in 2013.
“In 2014, we will launch a dedicated portal for medical tourism as well as brand the medical tourism initiative for Dubai and launch medical tourism packages to be promoted in target markets,” he said.
The healthcare official added that Dubai will work on sustaining as well as evaluating the brand in the coming years to decide the further course of action.
“All through, the key element will continue to be a well-regulated health sector with due regulations in place as quality of services is an essential component that leads to the organic growth of medical tourism,” he said.
The DHA is also working in cooperation with other government entities to attract health investments for projects and to support the development of health infrastructure in the emirate.
Ibrahim added that the target markets for Dubai’s medical tourism initiative will be Russia, CIS countries, South Asia and other GCC countries.
The UAE also recently established a medical board; as per the directives of Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, to develop the country’s healthcare sector.