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Health Authority and Residency Department join hands

Unification of medical tourism procedures formalised

Gulf News

Dubai: In a push to reinforce the emirate’s status as a destination for medical tourism, the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) and the General Directorate for Residency and Foreigner Affairs (GDRFA) agreed on Wednesday to unify medical tourism procedures.

The memorandum of understanding was signed by GDRFA director-general Major General Mohammad Ahmad Al Merri and DHA director-general Engineer Essa Al Maidour.

The unification is in line with the directives of Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, to push the medical tourism vision for Dubai.

Simultaneously, several expansion projects are underway to continue to improve geographical access, strengthen primary health care and provide specialised care.

According to the DHA, global revenues from medical tourism are estimated at $30 billion (Dh110 billion) with Dubai well positioned to take a share.

Through the medical tourism initiative, overseas patients who wish to have treatment in Dubai will be able to avail of a three-month medical tourist visa, extendible twice, up to nine consecutive months.

The initiative was announced in November 2012. The first phase of the initiative guided hospitals with information on how to apply for a medical tourism visa. The second phase will involve specialised clinics, spas and wellness centres.

In a media statement Al Merri said: “The two entities will work together to provide high quality services to support and facilitate the medical tourism initiative in Dubai.”

He added that the GDRFA has previously collaborated with the DHA through facilitating overseas treatment and blood donation.

Al Maidour said: “Working with relevant stakeholders is a key requirement to ensure strengthening and seamless functioning of the initiative. Unification of policies and processes will ensure smooth functioning of a dynamic health sector and will benefit both medical tourists as well as the health care providers.”

In an earlier interview with Gulf News, Al Maidour said: “The growth of medical tourism will positively impact the economy and be a driver for trade and investment in health care, tourism and hospitality services. We promote medical tourism through quality control, licensing, and accreditation,” he said.

Last year, the Dubai Healthcare City (DHCC) announced new specialised centres for oncology, genetic disorders and diabetes as well as plans to close the gap in services by adding facilities like rehab, paediatrics and integrated medicine.

Several key projects by the DHA are also in progress. A significant milestone will be the Al Jalila Children’s Specialty Hospital, the first-of-its-kind facility offering super-specialty and multi-spectrum paediatric care including oncology care, nephrology, cardiac care, neo-natal care, among others. It is expected to be complete by the end of 2013.

The signing ceremony was attended by senior GDRFA and DHA officials.