A view of Dubai Healthcare City. Dubai had maintained its advanced position as the top Arab destination for medical tourism for the second year in a row. Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

Dubai: The readiness of UAE’s health sector and its success in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to effectively accelerating the recovery of the health tourism sector, said a high-level official.

Mohamed Al Mheiri, Director of Health Tourism Department at the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) said that all concerned stakeholders are taking preventive measures to enhance the safety and well-being of the community and maintain health security. Al Mheiri highlighted that the UAE has ranked number one in the Middle East region and 14th globally in terms of COVID-19 handling, according to a survey released by UK’s Global Soft Power Index. The survey ranked 105 countries in the world based on the assessment of tens of thousands of people. He said this would help reinforce confidence of international health tourists to visit the emirate.

He said Dubai had maintained its advanced position as the top Arab destination for medical tourism for the second year in a row, based on the “International Medical Tourism Index” recently issued by the “International Health Care Research Centre” (IHRC).

Rise in influx of medical tourists in Dubai

In terms of numbers, he pointed out that in 2019 Dubai achieved a growth in the number of health tourists by 4 per cent compared to 2018, with a total of 350,118 health tourists, while their total expenditure on health care services was approximately 727 million dirhams.

Al Mheiri pointed to the qualitative shift achieved by the health tourism sector in Dubai since 2014 since the adoption of the Dubai Health Tourism Strategy, which was approved by Shaikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Dubai Executive Council.

Al Mheiri also pointed out that Dubai was in readiness to receive health tourists who expect access to the highest quality medical and health services provided by hospitals and advanced health centers in the emirate combined with premium standards of comfort and relaxation.

Extending the second medical opinion facility online

He cited the facility of the second medical opinion (SMO) initiative recently extended by DHA. Patients with disorders across seven specialities can get a free second medical opinion (SMO) or diagnosis from doctors in Dubai under this initiative.

How to register for second medical opinion?
In order to opt for the Second Opinion online, patients need to follow some simple steps:
• Register on the website
• Select the listed medical provider/speciality in Dubai for a second opinion
• Request for second medical opinion from leading doctors and specialties by completing the DXH SMO request form

The online only feature is available only across seven specialities, including gynaecology, cardiology, orthopaedics, IVF and fertility treatments, neurology, oncology, and urology. The service is facilitated by the DHA’s Health Tourism Department. (DXH Dubai)

DXH group members who are highly qualified and recognised in their medical field provide the second medical opinion. Al Mheiri said that the second opinions are provided within a turnaround time of two working days once the complete reports including existing medical reports and diagnosis are provided.

He added that medical records are only shared only with the specialist concerned, making patient details completely confidential.

Digitisation of the health sector boosts success

Al Mheiri reviewed the successes achieved by the health care sector in the Emirate, despite the exceptional circumstances that the world is going through and emphasised on the importance and growth of digital health technology in health care.

Over 39,000 licensed health professionals in Dubai

Al Mheriri pointed put that the DHA continued to receive applications for professional licences and investment in the health sector in Dubai despite the exceptional circumstances in the world.

The Dubai Health Authority’s Health Regulation Sector has received approximately 6,681 new requests for a DHA health care professional license since the beginning of the year. This brings the number of licensed health professionals in Dubai to approximately 39,000.

In terms of health facilities, there are approximately 3,400 licensed facilities and 237 licences were newly issued in Dubai. These include 77 outpatient clinics, 1 hospital, 1 day surgery centre, 71 pharmacies and 13 rehabilitation centres. The complete process was electronic using the Sheryan system for licensing.