WAM FNC-1591806517176
Federal National Council meetings are currently conducted remotely due to coronavirus restrictions Image Credit: WAM

Abu Dhabi: The Ministry of Health has cut prices of 9,840 generic and branded medicines since 2008, Abdul Rahman Mohammad Al Owais, Minister of Health and Prevention, said Wednesday.

Al Owais, also Minister of State for the Federal National Council Affairs, told the House UAE laws guarantee citizens the right to receive all medical services free of charge.

NAT FILE Abdul Rahman Mohammad Al Owais-1591806513997
Abdul Rahman Bin Mohammad Al Owais, Minister of Health and Prevention Image Credit: WAM

Al Owais was responding to a question from Dr. Hawa Al Dahhak Al Mansouri, a member from Abu Dhabi, about the ministry’s efforts to support health services.

Al Owais said UAE has succeeded in manufacturing 155 medicines, adding that the medical services provided by the country are of high quality.

“More than 85 per cent of hospitals operating in the country have been internationally accredited,” he said.

He said preventive measures and awareness programmes taken by the ministry and the concerned authorities in educating people about the risks of diabetes, contributed to reducing the rates of diabetes patients from 15 per cent in 2018 to 11.8 per cent this year.

For residents, buying medical services and medicines is proving quite bitter.

A spike in medical costs across the region last year was blamed on three main factors.

An overprescribing of low-value health tests and procedures, high cost pharmaceuticals and patients spending longer than necessary in hospital for treatment were cited in the financial report.

Doctors have been criticised by health insurers for sending patients home with bags of unnecessary drugs, many of which are expensive branded medication.

A recent report by British medical firm, Medbelle, ranked the UAE alongside Germany and the US as the top three most expensive countries to buy drugs in a study of 50 nations.

Researchers found extreme price variations worldwide for medicines to treat heart disease, blood pressure, diabetes, asthma, anxiety disorders and erectile dysfunction.

Despite increasing costs, analysts said changes to the way people access care, such as via virtual health consultancies and telemedicine, are being adopted across the region.

Technology could play a wider role in reducing health care costs globally by cutting-out unnecessary tests and eliminating expensive errors.

Last year, medical negligence in England cost the National Health Service £2.3 billion (Dh11.05 billion) in compensation and legal costs.