UAE medical tourism on the rise – expected to bring in AED6.1 billion by end of 2010
The value of medical tourism in the UAE is projected to jump to Dh6.1 billion by the end of 2010, a seven percent increase compared to the figures of 2009, according to medical tourism experts. The second half of the year alone is projected to see 13 percent growth over the corresponding period a year ago.
These statistics are the latest sign of the UAE's growing prominence on the region's medical tourism front, thanks to such factors as flexibility in patients' rights, the ability of the healthcare system to deliver quality care to a variety of cases, the hosting of high-profile international medical conferences, the launch of various humanitarian initiatives, the strengthening of the healthcare infrastructure through the imminent addition of a number of competitive, ultra-modern therapy resorts and state-of-the-art medical centres that are nearing completion, and having on offer a wide variety of facilities that help forge strong partnerships to boost the sector and increase its contribution to the gross domestic product.
Speaking of the increase in medical tourists to the UAE, Mohammad Rashid Al Falasi, Chairman of the Canadian Specialist Hospital, said, "Treatment rates in the UAE are lower than overseas hospitals, while the country's hospitals and healthcare centres offer a higher level of diagnostic, curative and rehabilitative services. We have hospitals, such as the CSH, offering ultra-high standards of medical services that reflect the development of medicine in the UAE, as well as the world's simplest and most positive healthcare regulations [in the UAE] when it comes to dealing with patients from all over the world."
"More than 1,500 patients arrive at Canadian Specialist Hospital from the USA each month, and we are the first hospital in the UAE to receive authorisation from the Ministry of Health to issue entry visas for medical treatment for patients from Iraq and for maternity cases from Nigeria. The hospital is equipped with ultra-modern medical technology and equipment and uses only USA FDA drugs," Al Falasi added.
"One of our aims is for the facilities that are attracting so much interest in the medical tourism industry to help reduce the spending on international healthcare services for UAE nationals and residents, which was estimated at AED25.7 billion a year from the government sector and AED50 billion a year from UAE nationals, alone. Attention to this sector will help create new jobs for nationals and attract foreign investment," he concluded.
Experts attribute the growth in the local medical tourism industry to similar growth on the global level. The volume of medical tourism traffic worldwide is estimated at between 38 and 40 million people over the last three years, resulting in revenue of over AED240 billion, a figure that is expected to grow to nearly AED350 billion by 2015. The UAE is leading the region with 4.3 million people (patients and companions) entering the country for medical reasons this year. Many UAE residents are now also choosing local therapy over what they can get abroad, due to the UAE's competitive healthcare system, the ability to book in advance, lower local rates as compared with global rates, and the completion of mega-tourism projects related to medical tourism.