Abu Dhabi :With the population increase in Abu Dhabi, 80 per cent of patients requesting to travel abroad for medical treatment are rejected by the Health Authority Abu Dhabi (HAAD), Gulf News has learned.

Requests are rejected because they are not being routed through the proper channel. According to Dr Ali Obaid Al Ali, Director of Health Regulation at the HAAD, a request to be treated offshore must come through a hospital that is medically affiliated with the Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (SEHA).

"If a doctor needs to re-confirm his/her diagnosis and treatment or a patient needs specific medical assistance available in another country, a medical report and evaluation must be submitted by a SEHA health care facility. The case is then reviewed by a medical board at the HAAD patient care department," explained Al Ali. The HAAD international patient care department consists of a team of seven doctors from various specialties and hospitals. "Our team of doctors decides whether a patient will be allowed to travel. We reject a lot of requests because most medical assistance is available in the UAE," stressed the health regulator.

Gulf News learnt that a growing annual number of 10 to 15 per cent of patients require medical assistance outside of the UAE, of which only one per cent of that number include patients being transferred through air.

"We only revert to air ambulances if the patient cannot travel on a commercial flight. Our main goal in HAAD is to continue raising our medical standards, build the trust of patients in existing healthcare facilities, raise the level of health care and decrease the number of patients who require treatment abroad," said Al Ali.