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ANALYSIS

The UAE government is seeking a world class
health system within six years.

Can UAE reach ambitious 2021 health goals?

ABU DHABI, May 26, 2015

The United Arab Emirates will need a steep increase of 50 per cent in the number of doctors from 2012 levels in order to meet its ambitious 2021 health targets, a report said.

Expatriates will be a major contributor to this expanded workforce but remain transient, which reduces the embedding of relevant skills and sensitivities, added the new Economist Intelligence Unit report entitled “Investing in quality: Healthcare in the UAE”, commissioned by Abu Dhabi investment company Waha Capital.

The report evaluates the current quality of healthcare in the UAE and identifies key challenges to be overcome to reach the government’s 2021 goals.

The United Arab Emirates government is seeking a world class health system within six years, as goals laid out in the Vision 2021 Agenda. This report finds that the UAE health sector has undergone far-reaching change over the last decade, from mandatory insurance to management outsourcing and regulatory reform.

The report looks ahead to the key milestones that need to be reached to attain the country’s goals.

“While the UAE is attracting health workers from many countries, additional incentives could encourage longer duration, which brings greater continuity of care,” said Adam Green, editor of the report.

Government and health providers may wish to explore financial compensation to reward length of service, as well as perks such as speed of immigration processes and the possibility of full ownership of a medical practice, noted Green.

While the UAE scores well on liveability indicators, such initiatives could help it ascend the global league tables as an expatriate destination for healthcare professionals.

The report also explores the growing role played by the private sector in health delivery. Management outsourcing of public hospitals, and the creation of ‘free zones’, has attracted several regional and international health companies.

To support investment further, policy makers could consider regulatory harmonisation. Differing protocols and standards across each Emirate makes it harder for companies to attain scale. Relocating staff is difficult due to differing licensing processes, the report noted.

The report finds that data on health service quality is steadily improving - helping patients make informed choices about treatment. Providers are increasingly accredited to international standards, and the government is requiring more data reporting on metrics such as waiting times and readmissions.

After years of scant information, which led many patients to seek treatment abroad because of their lack of faith in domestic services, the UAE (especially Dubai and Abu Dhabi) is now collecting more information than ever before. The publication of comprehensive patient service quality data will for the first time provide an objective rather than anecdotal picture of the region’s service quality.

“With plans to collect and publish more of this critical data over 2015 and 2016, patients will be able to make informed decisions about local treatment, and government and insurance companies can use such data as leverage in remuneration policies, pricing and licensing,” said Green. – TradeArabia News Service




Tags: UAE | Expatriates | doctors | 2012 |

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