UMI's Summary of the Dubai Health Care System
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UMI's Summary of the Dubai Health Care System

If you're new to Dubai or simply want to learn more about their health system, then you've come to the right place. UMI summarizes the health care system in Dubai.

UMI's Summary of the Dubai Health Care System

Dubai has a highly developed health service with well-equipped hospitals, primary care centres and specialized clinics. Dubai’s health services are internationally recognized, with a quality and scope of treatment that is comparable to other developed nations. Services are easily accessible for both Emirati nationals and expats alike. The Dubai Health Authority (DHA), which was established in 2007, is responsible for overseeing the healthcare sector in Dubai, and health care can be accessed through a number of DHA hospitals, specialty units and numerous primary health care centres. On the whole, hospitals are modern and strategically located for ease of access, and provide a myriad of first-class medical treatments including cardiology and oncology services, orthopaedics, obesity surgical procedures, neurology, rheumatology and ophthalmology services, cochlear implants, diabetes treatments, plastic and cosmetic surgery, physical therapy and urology treatment.

The Dubai Healthcare City is one medical center that exemplifies Dubai’s commitment to modern health facilities. Named for its great size, the Dubai Healthcare City is a vast complex of health related institutions, including hospitals, clinics and pharmacies, as well as teaching and research facilities in partnership with Harvard Medical School and Boston University. Servicing Emiratis and expats alike, this medical complex is currently expanding and upgrading; plans are afoot to increase capacity significantly in order to attract more patients locally and internationally.

For expatriates in Dubai, medical care is easy to find - both public and private hospitals normally have a large portion of foreign-trained expats on staff, and Dubai expats without residency can apply for a health card from the Dubai Department of Health and Medical Services in order to use publicly funded facilities. Due to the modern and highly skilled nature of staff and facilities, medical treatment in Dubai is comparable to the high rates of private care in countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom. Without access to a health card in Dubai, an expat will find it useful to hold a comprehensive international medical insurance policy, in order to ensure ready access to quality care. Of course, all Dubai hospitals are obligated to administer emergency treatment to an ill or injured patient until they are stabilized, regardless of whether that person holds insurance or not. Any treatment thereafter is expected to be paid for by the patient or recovered from an insurer.

In Dubai, pharmacies are easily accessible and well-stocked, with many staying open 24 hours per day. However, some prescription drugs and over-the-counter medicines that are routinely available in other countries are not permitted in the UAE. The Ministry of Health strictly controls pharmaceuticals, and travelers may wish to contact the Ministry prior to arrival in order to determine which drugs are permissible, and which necessitate prior permission to be transported into the country.

In terms of finances, total health care spending in the UAE is projected to nearly double by 2014; at the moment 2.8 percent of the nation’s GDP is spent on health care, and by 2014 that number will jump to 3.4 percent. This investment in public health shows - estimated life expectancy in the UAE is 76.71 years, or just a hair below the United States at 78.2 years. The UAE’s life expectancy puts it in a good position health-wise in comparison to regional neighbors as well; Jordan has an estimated life expectancy of 80.18 years, and Saudi Arabia 74.35 years. Frequently quoted as a health level indicator, infant mortality in the UAE is 11.59 deaths for every 1,000 live births, bettering the rates of both Jordan and Saudi Arabia at 15.83 and 15.61 deaths respectively. (All data according to the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States).

Unfortunately, despite improving health statistics and government investment, lifestyle diseases such as lung cancer, diabetes and heart disease have increased. Endemic diseases have all but been eradicated, and so these chronic conditions due to lifestyle are now the major focus of the UAE government and other health interest groups concerned with educating the public about the importance of disease screening and improving everyday health choices.

For visitors, one of the biggest health risks in Dubai and the wider UAE is the risk of dehydration, heat stroke and sunburn. Extreme heat in the country means that temperatures as high as 50°C at the height of summer are the norm. Other common ailments afflicting foreign nationals in Dubai are respiratory-related issues which are often triggered or aggravated by airborne dust and sand particles. Luckily, there are few complaints of holiday illness from those travelling to Dubai and the wider UAE, which is attributed to successful immunization programmes and a high standard of hygiene in restaurants and hotels. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control do, however, recommend vaccinations against Hepatitis A & B prior to travelling to the UAE.


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