UAE tops in medical tourism among GCC countries

By Amirtha P S, Desk Reporter
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City of Dubai
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The United Arab Emirates has been positioned first among the GCC countries in best medical tourism destinations across the world as per the US-based global non-profit group Medical Tourism Association (MTA). 

The ranking is given considering various factors including the destination environment, patient experience, current levels of medical tourism and the attractiveness of traditional tourism. The UAE has been ranked sixth in the world in the list of 46 of the most unique international destinations, an achievement that reflects the country’s success in developing modern infrastructures and advanced medical facilities.

Meanwhile, Dubai has maintained its prime position being the first Arab destination for medical facilities, based on the ‘Global Medical Tourism Index’ issued by the International Health Care Research Center (IHRC).

For the past two years, the UAE has been at the forefront of many global indicators in the health sector, as in 2019 it ranked first in 7 global indicators, according to a report issued in 2020 by the Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Centre.

As per the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the medical tourism proceeds in the UAE recorded $3.2 billion in 2018, a growth rate of 5.5 percent compared to 2017 and it projects the medical tourism in the country to reach $5.2 billion by 2023.

Over the years the UAE has initiated several programs to boost the medical tourism sector in the country which includes, the Dubai Health Authority’s “Dubai Health Experience” the world’s first medical tourism portal that offers the visitors to the country comprehensive services with a single click. The portal enables tourists to book medical procedures and take benefit of discounted air fairs, visas, medical insurance, hotel stays, leisure activities and more.

In 2018, Abu Dhabi’s Department of Health (DoH) and Department of Culture and Tourism jointly launched the Abu Dhabi Medical Tourism e-portal which is a digital platform that provides visitors to Abu Dhabi with all medical offerings and healthcare facilities available throughout their visit.

‏The e-portal provides a list of 40 healthcare facilities included in the medical tourism network and more than 287 medical treatment packages from over 173 doctors across the Emirate. The users can also access medical tourism insurance packages, the first of its kind in the region, along with a wide range of tourist services.

As per the semi-annual report of the Joint Commission International (JCI), which identifies, measures, and shares best practices in quality and patient safety with the world, the UAE ranked first globally for several accredited health facilities with 221 accredited hospitals, medical centers and health facilities.

The UAE also approved a policy of offering complete health care for all citizens and residents alike and offering health care on a global level as it is one of the 6 pillars of the UAE National Agenda 2021.

The draft health insurance law mandated the provision of health insurance to the citizen and residents in the country and national policies were issued to combat communicable diseases, as well as intellectual property in the health field, a national policy to promote national health and another for immunizations.