Maternity care in UAE requires pre-registration

Issue in focus after woman denied hospital admission loses baby

Gulf News

Dubai: The tragic case of a pregnant expatriate who was allegedly refused treatment at several private and government hospitals when she experienced premature labour pains has turned the spotlight on the issue of mandatory pre-registration for expecting women if they are to be admitted to hospitals for delivery.

Medical experts in the UAE offering both pre-natal and post-natal care are urging expecting women to register for delivery as early as the beginning of the second trimester.

The Indian expatriate who was 27-weeks pregnant claimed she was refused treatment at one hospital which said it did not have enough beds, while another apparently said it didn’t admit patients if the gestation period was less than 30 weeks.

The last hospital the woman approached allegedly refused her admission but agreed to attend to her given her condition. Her son was born premature and died two days after birth.

The woman allegedly had not registered with any of the hospitals she approached. She also claimed that the private clinic where she was receiving pre-natal care had told her that she would be referred to a hospital in her third trimester but had never mentioned the mandatory pre-registration for delivery.

According to the Dubai eGovernment Department, one must plan for maternity care, followed by registration for delivery, and choose between a private or government hospital.

The two specially-equipped maternity government hospitals are Latifa Hospital and Dubai Hospital. Pregnant women can pay for each visit or select a pre-natal package for 12 visits and routine tests. The costs for delivery are separate depending on the kind of delivery. To register at government hospitals, one needs a valid health card.

Gulf News spoke to gynaecology specialists to learn about mandatory pre-registration for delivery. Dr Mona Tahlak, head of the obstetrics and gynaecology section at the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) explained that a pregnant woman in Dubai should be told about mandatory pre-registration for delivery.

“If the woman is registered with any of DHA’s primary health care centres (PHCs), she is automatically registered for delivery with DHA’s maternity hospitals. However, if she is consulting a private physician, it is the duty of the doctor to inform the patient about registration for delivery. This communication should take place by the beginning of the second trimester. The expecting woman can then choose either a private or government hospital [for the delivery].”

She also highlighted how government hospitals handle un-registered delivery cases. “If a woman is in a life-threatening condition, we accept the case as an emergency. However, if it isn’t an emergency, and the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) is at full capacity, we advise the patient to seek care elsewhere,” said Dr Mona.

A specialist gynaecologist at a private hospital said that a doctor will discuss maternity care and delivery options with the patient as routine procedure. Dr Keya R. Shivadey of Aster Plus Medical Centre, Business Bay Clinic, Dubai said, “We cover areas like costs, preferred hospital for delivery, insurance cover and determine risk of possible complications. Many women choose to travel to their home country for the delivery. Those who choose to deliver in the country must register as early as the fourth and fifth month of pregnancy and latest by the seventh month.”