January 10th, 2018
Health Policy in the United Arab Emirates (UAE)
The rapid transformation of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) the Middle East’s commercial hub in recent years has necessitated a similar change in healthcare system. Being among the leading oil producers in the world, the country has attracted numerous investments and a high inflow of expatriates. The subsequent increase in the population, growth and urbanization has brought about issues relating to environmental health and provision of healthcare services that transcend cultural realms of the Arab inhabitants. One of the main concerns that the healthcare system has had to adjust to is to institute a self-sustaining healthcare system and increasing private sector involvement (HAAD 2009b). The country being an agglomerate of seven different emirates that each enjoy some shared identity through a federal government but with distinct local governments implies that some of the health policies instituted in one emirate might not apply in another.
This paper focuses on the Emirates of Abu Dhabi (EAD) by using the health care regulatory body in that region to draw its inferences on the healthcare system of UAE. The Health Authority – Abu Dhabi (HAAD) is the regulatory institution that ensures quality healthcare provision to EAD population by providing a monitoring and control framework (HAAD 2009a). The organizations duties includes: setting the regulatory healthcare framework; inspecting compliance with regulations to ensure their enforcement; encouraging adoption of better healthcare practices and performance targets; instituting healthcare awareness programs; and regulating services scope, premiums and reimbursement rates of EAD healthcare system (HAAD 2009a). In the first section of the paper an introduction to the EAD healthcare system identifying the demographic, political and status indicators is discussed. The national health care policy and strategy with specific policy issues of concern is noted with the services provided by the healthcare system, its eligibility and accessibility being highlighted thereafter. Lastly the section covers details on health care funding and financial challenges faced in the system. The concern of the second part of the paper is medical tourism which is discussed first by gathering data and statistics on its practice in the region and in EAD healthcare system and then opinions and perspectives on the matter from 4 clinicians holding senior position within EAD’s system are sought. The third part of the paper concludes by offering recommendations for addressing the issue of medical tourism based on the structure of the health care system delineated in the first part. Go to part 2 here.