Regional Profile – United Arab Emirates
Healthcare in the United Arab
Emirates has come a long way in the past 30 years and has accelerated
dramatically in the past five. What’s more, this heady pace of
development looks set to continue for some time to come. Middle East
Health provides an overview.
National citizens and expatriate
residents of the United
Arab Emirates (UAE) are
fortunate to reside in the
UAE when it comes to
healthcare. They are generally
well looked after in
modern facilities many of
which house some of the
latest medical technology.
As far as public healthcare is concerned, the UAE prides itself on the provision of primary healthcare and has a wide spread of primary health centres throughout the seven emirates. Through this network all citizens have easy access to primary healthcare. The centres provide basic medical and dental care as well as other services, such as maternal and child health including antenatal care, vaccination and nutrition education.
Situated on the Arabian Peninsula, the UAE, established in 1971, comprises seven emirates – Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, Ras Al Khaima and Fujairah. Abu Dhabi is the largest emirate and is home to the UAE capital, Abu Dhabi city. The UAE has a Federal National Council, which consists of forty members, drawn from each of the seven emirates.
Each emirate has its own local government, consisting of municipalities and departments. Each retains significant political and financial autonomy.
Oil is the major source of income for the UAE. The country’s proven oil reserves make up about one-tenth of the world’s total.
Building on its oil wealth, the UAE, and Dubai in particular, has embarked on a programme of rapid urban development. The result of this is a fast-growing population, particularly with the influx of expatriate workers. In 2005 the population was estimated at 4.5 million, with an annual growth rate of 4.8% (World Development Indicators database, April 2006).
The Emirates enjoys one of the highest standards of living in the world with a Gross National Income per capita of US$23,770 (World Bank, 2004).
Healthcare plays a significant role in national development and the Ministry of Health (MoH) oversees strategic planning and implementation in this sphere. Its main goals are “the provision of quality comprehensive, primary and specialised care, to all residents and the implementation of various public health policies and programmes to further these aims”.
According to the MoH, the leading causes of mortality in the country are cardiovascular diseases, cancer, traffic accidents and congenital abnormalities, which together constitute about 56% of all deaths in recent years. The high incidence of diabetes and obesity with its related complications is of increasing concern and the MoH and local government health services have initiated a number of public health campaigns to raise awareness of these conditions with the aim of improving early detection for diabetes and preventative measures for obesity. Genetic blood abnormalities, such as thalassaemia, have a particularly high prevalence in the UAE, the cause of which is the high incidence of intermarriage, or consanguinity. Research is ongoing in this field at the Al Wasl Hospital’s Genetic Research and Thalassaemia Centre in Dubai.
Following is a brief outline of some of the key healthcare facilities (public and private) in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, the two key emirates in the United Arab Emirates.
The two wealthiest emirates, Abu Dhabi and Dubai have their own health organisations directing healthcare services at local government level - the General Authority for Health Services (GAHS) for Abu Dhabi and Dubai’s Department of Health and Medical Services (DoHMS).
GAHS was established in 2001 to achieve several goals in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, including the:
- Establishment of health
care standards in the Emirate
Sheikh Khalifa Medical City
The healthcare facilities that comprise SKMC are situated on an island about five miles wide and nine miles long. SKMC operates under the management and direction of the General Authority for Health Services for the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. The Medical City has several ‘Centers of Excellence’ and aspires to practice contemporary medicine comparable to the best hospitals and medical centres in the world. SKMC provides comprehensive healthcare services in all of the disciplines relevant to the needs and priorities of the community.
SKMC is comprised of the
The Sheikh Khalifa Surgical Pavilion is a 220-bed modern tertiary care hospital located in Abu Dhabi city. It was opened in February 2000 to provide a broad range of surgical healthcare services in all disciplines and includes multidisciplinary Outpatient Specialty Clinics and a separate administration building. It is situated in a medical complex that includes other hospitals and healthcare facilities that are under SKMC management.
Sheikh Khalifa Medical Pavilion is a 300-bed modern hospital providing comprehensive healthcare services to all residents of Abu Dhabi.
The Medical and Surgical Pavilions are ‘Centers of Excellence’ in the United Arab Emirates.
Behavioural Sciences Pavilion
The Behavioural Sciences Pavilion was built following the instructions of the President His Highness Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan in 1985 following the “Heroin Epidemic” in the area and followed by the establishment of federal law no. 6 for control of narcotic substances and the like, 1986.
The Behavioural Sciences
Pavilion is an advanced
- The Behavioural Sciences Pavilion functions as a national resource centre for clinical work, teaching and research, with special emphasis on the integration of mental health services with other health services and multidisciplinary practice and teaching. The hospital has formal academic links with the Department of Psychiatry of the School of Medicine and Health Services in Al Ain.
Since its opening in early 2000, Sheikh Khalifa Surgical Pavilion (SKSP) has faced many challenges and enjoyed many achievements. The Surgical
Pavilion completed the renovation and expansion of the New Intensive Care Unit and the creation of a Medical Step Down Unit developed for patients requiring an intermediate level of care between ICU and general medicine. SKSP also established satellite pharmacies in the Outpatient Clinic, the ICU and the Emergency Department addressing the needs of its patients. SKSP started a successful Home Care Programme and opened the first Pre-Op clinic in the UAE, providing care and education to patients undergoing surgery at SKSP.
In July 2004, the addition of the new MRI Suite, Endovascular Suite and bone mineral densitometry systems gave SKSP diagnostic and interventional capabilities that significantly enhanced the services offered to patients.
Most recently, the addition of the SKSP Renal Center enhanced SKSP’s ability to provide complete renal patient care services. The centre consists of 14 dialysis bays equipped with advanced technology. In 2006, the Cardiac Sciences Department was inaugurated at SKMC. It is an ultra-modern, state-of-the- art, all-inclusive centre of excellence providing cardiac services and specialties including non-invasive cardiology, cardiac catheterisation, and cardiac surgery.
The department consists of five divisions including Adult Cardiac Surgery, Adult and Paediatric Cardiology, Cardiac Anaesthesiology, and Paediatric Cardiac Surgery. Moreover, a new state-of-the-art Mammography Suite, and a new Haematology and Oncology Clinic and Infusion Center were opened.
The Emergency Department has also been expanded with the addition of the Paediatric ER services. Sheikh Khalifa Medical City employs more than 4,500 multinational staff.
The Emergency Department of Sheikh Khalifa Surgical Pavilion is the public emergency care facility serving residents of Abu Dhabi city. The Emergency Department has 48 treatment areas. The facility includes a three-bed resuscitation area, an 11-bed paediatric care area, a sevenbed Fast Track area, and more than 15 monitored acute treatment beds. Orthopaedic, isolation and ENT/Opthalmology areas exist within the ER.
The Abu Dhabi-based Imperial College London Diabetes Centre (ICLDC) is a private, out-patient clinic specialising in the detection, prevention and treatment of diabetes.
It was launched in August
2006 to tackle the high
prevalence of diabetes in the
UAE. The centre of excellence
also has a dedicated
research division, the main
aim of which is to understand
why diabetes has such
a high prevalence in the
The UAE is witnessing rapid
expansion in all spheres,
not least in healthcare. No
where is this more apparent
than in Dubai with
numerous hospitals, planned,
under construction or
recently completed. The
Dubai Healthcare City is a
The Department of Health and Medical Services in Dubai is the Umbrella of four Government hospitals (Rashid Hospital, Dubai Hospital, Al Wasl Hospital and Al Maktoum Hospital), 19 health clinics and 6 specialised Centers (Dubai Gynaecology & Fertility Center, Genetic & Thalassemia Center, Blood Donation Center, Dubai Cord Blood and Research Center, Cardiology & Cardiothoracic Surgery Centre, Dental Center and Community Center for the elderly) in Dubai. The Department employs more than 600 doctors.
Rashid Hospital is one of Dubai’s premier medical facilities for emergency, trauma, critical care and ambulatory care, providing high-quality services to all patients within the community, as well as striving to provide leadership in the education and training of healthcare professionals.
Rashid Hospital receives many complicated case referrals from other hospitals in the rgion, and co-ordinates closely with the Dubai Police & Civil Defense for the training of emergency medical staff at the airports.
Ajacent to Rashid Hospital is the new state-of-the-art 140- bed Accident and Emergency Trauma Centre. The advanced centre makes use of the latest technology and the newest principles in trauma centre architectural design. It is the largest and most advanced freestanding trauma centre in the region.
With a detailed disaster management plan in place, the trauma centre is built to cope with large-scale disasters and emergencies.
Rapid development in Dubai since the mid 1970s, and its consequent population growth resulted in DoHMS decision in 1977 to build a specialised hospital. By March 1983 the Dubai Hospital began admitting patients. The hospital comprises numerous specialised departments and clinics, such as the cardiology centre.
Al Wasl Hospital
Al Wasl Hospital is a renowned secondary and tertiary healthcare facility specialised in obstetrics, gynaecology, paediatrics and paediatric surgery. Its mission is to offer high quality diagnostic, curative and preventive healthcare services. Often viewed as the mother and child hospital, Al Wasl Hospital is DoHMS newest medical facility. It is equipped to serve as a teaching hospital and as a referral hospital, offering state-of-the-art medical care at its Special Baby Care Unit, Thalassemia Center, and the Paediatric Surgery Unit.
Primary health care
The provision of primary health care is a principle part of DoHMS, whose aim it is to ensure primary healthcare is available to all in the emirate.
Primary health care (PHC) is provided by 19 health centres and peripheral clinics throughout the Emirate of Dubai, offering a ratio of one health centre or clinic for every 30,000 individuals. The geographical distribution of these centres takes into consideration their ease of accessibility to patients. The health centres are well equipped and staffed with qualified health workers trained to serve in this field.
Dubai-based Welcare World Health Systems (Welcare World), a member of The Varkey Group, owns and manages several healthcare facilities in Dubai and abroad, the most significant being the multi-specialty Welcare Hospital, Emirates Diagnostic Clinic, the recently opened Welcare Ambulatory Care Centre, the new Welcare Eye Centre – all in Dubai.
Welcare World is also developing two hospitals, which will be part of the DHCC – City Hospital and Creek Hospital. Welcare World has recently embarked on an expansion programme and has created strategic alliances with a number of internationally reputed healthcare institutions.
American Hospital Dubai
American Hospital Dubai is a 143-bed, acute care, general medical/surgical private hospital with a 60 physician multi-specialty group practice, designed to provide superior quality, healthcare to the people of Dubai, the UAE and the surrounding Gulf States.
The hospital has been operating in Dubai for 10 years, and over the past few years has accelerated the ongoing move into highly skilled tertiary care, with the notable additions of two new regional centres of excellence – the Heart Center and the Cancer Care Centre – which join the two existing regional centres of excellence at the American Hospital – the Total Joint Replacement Centre, and the Diabetes Centre.
Having recognised the increasing importance of organising specialised disciplines around the needs of the patient the hospital has also created the Breast Clinic, which brings together a formidable, multi-disciplinary team of physicians and other medical staff.
The American Hospital Dubai has expanded to meet the demand for more personalised services, comfort and convenience, while broadening the services and deepening the level of expertise and care offered. In response to the strong increase in local and regional demand for its services, the hospital constructed a new state of the art outpatient clinic building; this additional space will also allow the expansion of existing physician services in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Paediatrics, Primary Care, Surgery, and Oncology.
New physician services will be introduced through units dedicated to Dermatology, Plastic Surgery, Allergy, Retina Surgery, and Head and Neck Surgery. In addition to the new facilities and services, the hospital continues its ongoing physician recruitment plan, which will extend the number of American Board Certified or equivalent practicing physicians at the Hospital from 60 to 110 over the next two years.
Last year the American Hospital Dubai received reaccreditation from Joint Commission International (JCI) for the third time.
American Hospital Dubai became the first hospital in the Middle East to be awarded JCI accreditation in May 2000 and successfully underwent a further survey by the JCI in 2003 to maintain its accredited status. The American Hospital Dubai is the only private hospital in the UAE with JCI accreditation.
The American Hospital Dubai Medical Laboratory is also accredited by the College of American Pathologists (CAP), making it the first private laboratory in the Middle East to be accredited by (CAP).
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