A Life Pharmacy outlet in the UAE Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Starting in 2022, residents will be able to get family physicians’ consultations inside the branches of a UAE-based pharmacy chain.

Life Healthcare Group - which owns the country’s largest pharmacy network, according to Dubai Economy - on Monday announced its entry into primary healthcare by launching clinics to mark its 25th anniversary.

The group is introducing a new concept of walk-in clinics inside its pharmacies and will also launch 20 standalone community clinics as part of the Dh100 million diversification plan, Jobilal M. Vavachan, the group’s CEO, said at a press conference.

Walk-in clinics

He said the group has received the approval from Dubai Health Authority (DHA) to open the walk-in clinics within the pharmacies. “About 50 to 60 per cent of patients seek GP services and that is where people struggle as they have to take appointment and wait in the clinic and also wait for their medicines. This is where our walk-in clinics at pharmacies will help,” the CEO added.

He said the walk-in clinics will be managed by family physicians and the first ones will start operation by January 2022.

“The idea is that whenever you need treatment and medicines, you have a doctor to give immediate attention and urgent care in your neighbourhood …We will accept patients with or without insurance and we promise that nobody would be turned away…We are looking at 50 such walk-in clinics in two to three years.”

In the community clinics, seven to 10 doctors handling different specialities will be available, Jobilal said.

The Life Healthcare Group has its core focus on ‘prevention is better than cure’ approach, which will also drive its strategic investments in the primary healthcare sector, he pointed out.

The group is also expanding its presence in eye care with 100 optic stores planned in next three years under the Life brand.

Opening 25 pharmacies in one day

Life Healthcare Group also announced the opening of 25 Life Pharmacy outlets on the anniversary day, the day the group’s chairman and managing director Abdul Nazar opened its first store in Jumeirah in 1996.

(L to R) Adam Abdul Nazar, Deputy CEO; Jobilal, CEO; and Krishna Kishore, General Manager, Life Healthcare Group Image Credit: Supplied

Humble beginning

“That was a humble beginning… We wanted to bring the best healthcare retail solutions to this part of the world and today, we have reshaped pharmacy retailing in the region,” said Jobilal.

Among the firsts to the group’s credit include the first drive-thru pharmacy and first healthcare hypermarket. Life Mobile App is one of the top five downloaded shopping apps in the UAE with more than 90 per cent of the deliveries done within 30 minutes, the group said.

More targets

With 300 pharmacies and a strength of around 3,000 employees, the group is also planning to enter the markets in four countries in MENA region and India in the coming years, said Adam Abdul Nazar, deputy CEO.

The group intends to cross the landmark achievement of 500 pharmacies by 2025.

In a statement, Abdul Nazar said: “Our growth would not have been possible without the blessings and support of the UAE government and the rulers, and we would like to congratulate the country on the 50th year anniversary since the formation of the federation. And we would like to dedicate our pharmacies and clinics to the nation as a salutation to the UAE’s 50th year anniversary.”

The group also announced its commitment to 10 per cent or a minimum of 100 jobs to UAE nationals in the next two years.

With 15 million overall transactions, the group said around 1.4 million people have availed its loyalty scheme in the pharmacies.