Dubai: In line with the Medical Tourism initiative, launched by Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Dubai Executive Council in April, aimed at bolstering Dubai's global position in the field of medical tourism, a delegation headed by Qadi Saeed Al Murooshid, Director-General of the Dubai Health Authority, visited Ankara to review the Turkish experience in the field.

The delegation members included Laila Al Jassmi, CEO of Health Policy and Strategy Sector, Dr Khalid Al Qaiwani, Consultant Urologist and Director of the DHA Office in Germany, Dr Jamal Al Mulla, Consultant Ortho-Trauma at Rashid Hospital, Dr Jamal Al Saleh, Consultant Rheumatologist at Dubai Hospital, Dr Sharifa Abdool, consultant medical neurologist at Rashid Hospital, Dr Ahmad Al Rostamani, head of hematology at Rashid Hospital, Dr Eldaw Sulaiman, head of Research & Performance Management and Hamad Matar Al Falasi, Director of Overseas Treatment Office.

This is one of several visits conducted by the DHA in cooperation with its strategic partners to promote Dubai as the ideal destination for Medical Tourism.

Al Murooshid stressed on the importance of this visit that aimed to review the Turkish experience in the field of medical tourism, while also exploring related avenues of cooperation including exchange of medical expertise between the two sides.

Al Murooshid said the delegation had separately met with Saif Al Shamsi, UAE Consul General in Istanbul and Emin Camak, Founding Chairman of the Turkish Healthcare Tourism Development Council, to discuss the aim of the visit and to promote Dubai as an ideal destination for investment and medical tourism.

The delegation visited a number of Turkish medical facilities and met with their directors and other concerned stakeholders. The delegation was updated on the services and fundamentals of medical tourism, as well as the efforts made by Turkish medical facilities to attract patients.

Al Murooshid said that the delegation had presented the Dubai Government's efforts to promote the emirate as an ideal location for medical tourism. He said the excellent medical facilities and infrastructure, the emirate's strategic location, an attractive investment environment for businessmen and investors, advanced laws and regulations governing medical professionals and a significant number of hospitals and health centres that are internationally accredited; are all factors which make Dubai a destination of choice for medical tourism.

The DHA Director-General said that during their visit the delegation reviewed the successful example of several hospitals in the cities of Istanbul and Antalya in order to get an insight of the Turkish Medical Tourism strategy, in various medical fields including cardiac surgery, neurology, spinal cord surgery, cancer treatment, kidney transplant, bone marrow transplant and fertility.

He further stated that Dubai's prominent global position as a medical tourism destination will allow it to gain a sizable share of the medical tourism trade, indicating that it is estimated that the Emirate will witness an annual growth rate of 7.2 per cent in tourists visiting Dubai until 2015, according to the statistics issued by the World Travel and Tourism Council. The expected number of tourists coming to Dubai by 2015 is 14 million people, all of which are potential users of Dubai's healthcare services.

Laila Al Jasmi, CEO of the DHA Health Policy and Strategy Sector indicated the role played by the Turkish Healthcare Tourism Development Council in supporting medical tourism. Established in 2007, the council comprises of 40 members from the various vital sectors in Turkey, and covers 49 public and private hospitals, all of which are internationally accredited (JCIA).

Al Jasmi said that the cooperation with Turkey is aimed to boost the Dubai Medical Tourism Plan. The plan is being operated by the DHA with the help of its strategic partners.

The aim of the DHA and its stakeholders during this trip was to understand the Turkish experience in this field, especially since Turkey has emerged as one of the top ten destinations for medical tourism and is seeing a growth in the number of tourists who visit the country for medical purposes.