Dubai: The basic health insurance plan in Dubai will now cover mental health and alternative medicine treatments such as Ayurveda and Homoeopathy.
Health care facilities which have received an intimation to this effect said the extension of the cover is especially welcome in the current pandemic climate, as it gives those from low-income groups access to affordable mental health and holistic medicine consulations.
Doctors said the Essential Basic Plan (EBP), which covers blue-collar workers, domestic help, salon workers and others in the salary bracket of up to Dh4,000 per month, will be a game changer in health care.
Ayurveda becomes more inclusive
Dr V.L. Shyam, Medical Director of Dr Shyam’s Ayurveda Centre, said, “Any treatment or therapy prescribed by a licensed Ayurveda practitioner and conducted by a licensed Ayurveda practitioner will now be covered in the basic package. Those that are excluded are treatments such as massage, aromatherapy and acupressure.”
Dr Shyam said with this, Ayurveda practice would get more inclusive in Dubai. “Ayurveda treatments no longer will be restricted to the privileged. It will be very cost-effective as Ayurveda has much to offer at the primary health care treatment level. For instance, Ayurvedic treatment for chronic sinusitis will cost something in the range of Dh200-300,” he said, adding that it will expedite treatment as people will embrace alternative therapies.
Dr Vaneeta Shahani, licensed homoeopathic practitioner in Dubai, said, “It is a great initiative by DHA as it extends holistic practices of Ayurveda and Homoeopathy to the underprivileged at an affordable cost. Homoeopathy is a holistic practice and very personalised.
"When we treat an individual, we take into account the circumstances a person has been through and the symptoms that are specific to him. During the pandemic, work from home routines, need for personal space, threat of job loss and other unprecedented issues have taken a toll on some people. Now blue collar workers will be able to seek homoeopathic remedies for many of their issues under the basic health plan.”
Shaji Shamsudeen, development manager at Ali Medical Center, Deira, said: "The new initiative is a game changer for Dubai. Dubai government is focussing on psychiatric and mental health that are affecting the current population due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Previously, psychiatric and mental health treatments were not covered by all insurance policies."
Dr Atul Aundhekar, CEO of Avivo Health Care Group, said, “This is such a welcome move from the health care authorities in Dubai. During the pandemic, every single individual has been plagued by some mental health concern. While the privileged can turn to families they live with, blue collar workers have largely had to brave it alone. Not having an insurance coverage for getting treated for mental health issues or any other holistic therapies deprived them from seeking these treatments. The new move will make all this accessible.”
Addressing the root of the problem
Dr Muhammad Tahir, consultant psychiatrist at the American Wellness Centre, Dubai, said, “This is a very good move. Mental health is the mother of all illnesses, yet it is often neglected. By including mental health cover in the basic plan, it will provide blue collar workers the basic support to be able to talk to a trained doctor who can identify their problem and refer them for further treatment.
"Many of the health issues begin in the mind but are manifested physiologically. For example, a panic attack which is triggered by fear and anxiety actually looks very much like a heart attack as a person undergoing it experiences tightness of chest, dizziness, sweat, palpitation etc. If they are able to establish it is a panic attack early on, the root of the problem can be addressed.”