Healthy growth: Dubai’s DHA releases new investment guide

Dr Ibtesam Al Bastaki, director of the Investments & PPPs Department at Dubai Health Authority, explains how the guide is helping to develop the emirate’s healthcare sector

The Dubai Health Investment Guide was launched at the end of last year. What was the background to the guide being compiled?

The healthcare landscape in Dubai has developed significantly over the past decade and will continue to become more specialised. We have the right factors to fuel the growth, demand and utilisation of health services, and with the support we offer investors, I am optimistic we have a healthy future ahead. Especially a future where the government can work closely with the private sector to further develop and support a robust and sustainable health system.

The Health Investment Guide lists the advantages of investing in Dubai and presents a snapshot of the health system, with key trends on patient volumes, growth health infrastructure and health spending.

What is the overarching aim of the guide? How do you foresee it being of benefit to investors, the healthcare sector, and Dubai’s economy?

The aim of the Dubai Health Investment Guide is to provide investors with real time, reliable and robust information on demand for health services, supply and capacity gaps, and to enable investments in strategic opportunities and specialised health services. It also provides investors with information that is critical to their investment mandates and plans.

This benefits Dubai’s economy and the health sector as it helps optimise and balance the supply of health services, informing investors clearly about areas of overcapacity, and quantifying the gaps where investment is needed.

The guide is broken up into different segments and does the following:

• Details the drivers underpinning the growth of healthcare demand in the emirate of Dubai, which includes the growing population, strong and diversified economy, stable and attractive investment climate, rising burden of disease and prevalence of chronic diseases, and rise in health tourism, among others.

• Provides an overview of health regulations and the health insurance system which includes upcoming changes and initiatives relevant to investors.

• Maps the investment journey for different types of facilities.

• Highlights the investment needs and priorities for outpatient care units, acute inpatient beds and specialised services, including long term care and critical care beds for 2020, 2025 and 2030.

• Provides details on free zones in Dubai focused on supporting healthcare and life sciences and key initiatives by the DHA to support health tourism in Dubai, and health innovation through Dubai Future Accelerators programme.

How strong is Dubai’s healthcare sector as an investment proposition?

Dubai leads the way for private sector participation in healthcare in the MENA region. Private sector providers in Dubai have contributed to developing a strong health ecosystem and in line with the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai, they account for over 75 per cent of the utilisation for outpatient services, and over 65 per cent of inpatient services.

How much interest has there been in the guide so far? How valuable have investors found the support it provides?

We have seen significant interest from locally established healthcare providers, family business groups and private equity and other investment firms in the region, as well as highly reputed international investors and providers who are keen to understand opportunities in the health sector in UAE
and the wider GCC region. Some have even tailored their proposed investment mandates and their plans based on the Dubai Health Investment Guide needs and gaps, and we hope to see many of these translating into health service offerings that patients have access to in Dubai.

We are also working on the Certificate of Need program and guidelines to support, enable and facilitate strategic investments in the health sector.

DHA’s investment focus for the next 2-3 years

• Innovations in primary care
• Ambulatory care
• Urgent care clinics
• Mental Health
• Chronic Disease Management
• Tertiary Care for diabetes, cardiology and oncology
• Diagnostic Health and Remote Monitoring
• Rehabilitation and Physical Therapy
• Home-based care
• Long-term and extended care

DHA’s investment focus for the next 3-5 years

• Prevention and Pharmacy beyond-the-pill
• Precision Medicine and Genetics
• Population Health Management
• Nursing Homes and Palliative Care