The UAE has seen remarkable progress in health care and comprehensive health programs have been adopted to meet the needs of UAE society. The UAE has a comprehensive, government-funded health service and a developing private health sector. Health care infrastructure has kept pace with other health care developments to ensure that adequate services are provided in the emirates. Both the Government and private sector expansion and upgrading are ongoing. The average annual growth during the next three years is estimated at 25 percent, due to the expansion in the number of hospitals and an increase in private health care facilities. The UAE's explosive population growth has benefited many sectors of the economy and the medical equipment industry is no exception. According to a government report, the UAE population is expected to surge to 6.6 million by 2010 if current growth rates are maintained.
In 1979 the UAE had only seven hospitals, currently there are 74 hospitals with a total of 8,950 beds and well over 110 well-equipped modern primary health centers (PHC) and 12 Mother & Child Health Care Centers. The MOH runs 15 hospitals with 2100 beds and 76 PHCs, General Authority of Health Services (GAHS) runs 12 hospitals with 1805 beds and 46 PHCs, Department of Health and Medical Services (DOHMS) runs four hospitals with 1524 beds and 20 PHCs. The Department of Defense runs three hospitals and Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) runs one hospital with 36 beds. The private owns the remaining hospitals including the two Iranian and maternity hospitals in Dubai and Fujairah. According to the MOH, in the UAE there are 1281 private clinics, 200 of which are dental clinics.
In 2001, The Health Authority-Abu Dhabi (HAAD) was established by a royal decree with a mandate to manage all the Ministry of Health hospitals and PHCs within the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. The aim of the HAAD is to upgrade and operate all of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi hospitals according to accredited international standards. It is said that HAAD has had an open budget over the past years, of which a major portion is spent on upgrading current hospitals. On December 2007 HAAD launched SEHA, an independent, public stock company to oversee the operations of eight public hospital systems totaling 14 facilities, 2472 licensed beds, more than 55 primary health clinics and 14,350 employees in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. SEHA (through HAAD) has an agreement with:
- Johns Hopkins Medical (JHM) for the management and operations of Tawam Hospital for the next 10 years whereby JHM will employ its medical expertise in the field of health services in the UAE. JHM will also be managing Al Rahba hospital, a 140 beds hospital 40 km away from the city of Abu Dhabi.
- Cleveland Clinic to manage Sheikh Khalifa Medical City (SKMC), a network of healthcare facilities in Abu Dhabi consisting of 700 beds Sheikh Khalifa Hospital, a 150-bed Behavior Sciences Pavilion and a 100-bed Abu Dhabi Rehabilitation Center, in addition to more than 12 specialized outpatient clinics and nine primary healthcare centers around the city of Abu Dhabi.
- Bangkok-based Bumrungrad International Limited (BIL) to manage Al Mafraq Hospital, a 460 plus beds hospital.
- University of Vienna for the management of the central hospital in Al-Ain. The hospital has 425 beds and treats 250,000 patients a year.
In June of 2006 the National Health Insurance Scheme was implemented based on a presidential decree, making it compulsory for employers and business owners in Abu Dhabi to provide health insurance for their expatriates employees and their families. In May of 2006, the National Health Insurance Company (Daman) in partnership with Munich RE Group was created to provide affordable health insurance schemes to all residents of Abu Dhabi.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) has federal responsibilities over the healthcare services in the UAE including managing the Northern Emirates healthcare system, excluding Dubai Emirate. Approximately five percent of the MOH budget is spent on medical machines, tools, and supplies. Currently MOH operates 13 hospitals with 2100 beds and 61 PHCs located throughout the Northern Emirates. MOH has started the construction of a 500- bed referral hospital, which will service the population of the Northern Emirates. The Ministry has an “International Doctors Visits Program” to bring doctors and surgeons with various specialties into the UAE with an annual budget of approximately US $1.1million. Under this program, an average of 65-75 doctors from the UK and US, as well as Germany and France visit the UAE each year and provide medical care to an average of 60 to 90 patients each. The number of surgical procedures depends on the specialty, but averages between 6 to 10 procedures per week. The MOH also announced that expatriates in the emirates of Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al-Qaiwain, Ras al-Khaimah and Fujairah will be covered by a mandatory health insurance system from early 2008 as part of a proposed federal insurance law. The draft law proposed by the health ministry is currently being reviewed by the Legislations Committee and it will soon be sent to the Cabinet for approval.
Dubai Department of Healthcare and Medical Services (DOHMS) was established in 1972 by the Ruler of Dubai to provide healthcare services in the Emirate of Dubai. DOHMS manages four hospitals, with 1504 beds and 20 PHCs & peripheral clinics distributed throughout the Emirate of Dubai. On June 2007 the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) was created following a Royal Decree mandating better healthcare services and facilities within the Emirate of Dubai to the benefit of all UAE nationals, residents and visitors. DHA implementation will be undertaken in phases and will take around four years to complete. In the meantime the Department of Health and Medical Services (DOHMS) will continue to provide medical services. The DHA transition team is working closely with the Health Insurance Committee (HIC) on future financing arrangements for a national health insurance scheme for the emirate of Dubai.
The private sector is also developing steadily to become an important partner in providing comprehensive healthcare to the people in the UAE. Currently, there are more than 25 privately owned hospitals with 1000 plus beds and several more are coming up. The American Hospital, New Medical Center, Al Zahra Hospital, Welcare Hospital, Belhoul Apollo Hospital, Zulekha Hospital, Emirates Hospital, Al Noor Hospital, and others are some of the established private hospitals. Apart from the large private hospitals, patients also have the option to visit private polyclinics that house several specialties under one roof. Gulf Diagnostic Center and Dubai London Clinic are leading private polyclinic with about 50,000 registered patients. Moreover, there are 1019 privately owned clinics, covering all specialties.
Recent developments indicate that the private sector is likely to expand and play a bigger role in the healthcare industry, particularly because of the new health insurance schemes and the goal of the UAE government now to treat highly complex operations within the country, rather than sending patients abroad for treatment.
On November 5, 2002, Dubai launched the Dubai Healthcare City (DHC) project. This new project will create a global healthcare center in Dubai. The total cost of this project is estimated at US$1.8 billion and is expected to be completed and fully operational by 2010. DHC will include medical education and a research center, specifically addressing postgraduate schools and on the job education and clinical research. It will include a leading and innovative business center leveraging the integration of technology and healthcare services (e.g. Tele-Health, E-enabled services). The DHC project consists of three medical clusters:
1) The University Medical Complex which includes a University Hospital, a Medical School, a Nursing School, and a Life Sciences Research Center
2) The Medical Cluster which includes Day Clinics, a Specialized Diagnostic Laboratory, and a Rehabilitation Center
3) The Wellness Cluster which includes, Check-up Clinics and Sports Medicine. Phase I of the project has been completed and sold out. Ninety per cent of the planning for phase II, which is four times more than phase I, is completed and investment opportunities in this phase will be put on offer shortly. Total investments in phases I and II has been projected at US$2.9 billion.
In 2007, the UAE market for medical equipment and supplies was estimated at US$352 million, with US imports accounting for 35 percent of the total. With the recent increase in the Euro exchange rate, the demand for US medical equipment in the local market has increased noticeably. Major US imports are diagnostic, therapeutic and patient monitoring equipment, which are perceived to be high technology and state of the art. US medical equipment and supplies, as well as healthcare technology and services are considered to be highly reliable and are preferred. The US commands a major market share with regard to imaging and monitoring equipment, ventilators, and life support and operating theater equipment. Local production accounts for only 7 percent of the market for medical equipment and supplies. Only 4 percent of imports and locally produced medical supplies are re-exported. Aside from the US, the UAE imports medical equipment and pharmaceuticals from France, Germany, Italy, UK, Italy, Sweden, and Japan. Medical equipment carries a five percent import duty.
The following is an indicative, but not a comprehensive list, of opportunities available in the UAE in the healthcare sector:
Emaar Healthcare Group a subsidiary of Emaar Properties (a joint stock company listed on the Dubai Financial Market) announced that it has plans to build healthcare clinics in it’s existing Dubai developments including Arabian Ranches, The Meadows and The Greens. The company is also building a 60,000 square metre medical centre in the Burj Dubai development close to Dubai Mall. Omar Al-Shummar, executive director of Emaar healthcare said that they are looking for hospital operators who will be their strategic partners to build the facilities themselves. The healthcare division of the UAE's Emaar Properties is seeking to establish strategic partnerships to deliver 100 new hospitals, 500 health clinics and $5,000 million in turnover over the next 10 years.
• The MOH has announced a new tender (closing date Feb 2008) for the construction of the Sheikh Khalifa specialist hospital in Ras Al-Khaimah. Public Works Ministry, Offices of the Executive Committee for Developing Rural Areas will oversee the construction of the hospital, which is a 500 bed hospital serving the rural areas of the Northern Emirates.
• Istithmar, a local investment house, has entered a joint venture agreement with Thailand-based Bumrungrad International to set up a 125-bed hospital on Shaikh Zayed highway, adjacent to Jumeirah Lake Towers. Total project costs are estimated at $81.7 million and completion is due by mid 2008. Bumrungrad will operate the facility. Istithmar is also investing $27.5 million in the parent company, Bumrungrad Hospital Public Company, and has signed a memorandum of understanding with Bumrungrad International to make a direct investment in the subsidiary, which is expanding in Asia.
• Al Naboodah Laing O’Rourke, a local company, has been awarded a $572 million contract to build a teaching hospital at Dubai Healthcare City schedule to open in 2011. The contract is structured as a partnering agreement that will see the contractor and client sharing responsibility for the delivery of the project. The 400- bed teaching hospital will be known as the Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum Academic Medical Centre, the 400-bed hospital is scheduled to open in 2011.
Mubadala Healthcare, a division of Mubadala Development Company that is specifically dedicated to investment in high value and economically sustainable projects that enhance the private healthcare infrastructure of Abu Dhabi and the UAE, has the following project in its pipeline:
• Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi (CCAD), a 360 bed (scalable to 490), multi-specialty facility located on Al Suwa Island, across from the Abu Dhabi Mall. The hospital managed by the Cleveland Clinic, will be an extension of the Cleveland Clinic model, providing a spectrum of specialty services that are designed to cater to the healthcare needs of Abu Dhabi and the region. It will provide a number of career opportunities, and the medical professionals will receive ongoing training directly from Cleveland Clinic.
• Sports City Medical & Diagnostic Center, a multi-specialty center providing a range of medical specialties as well as advanced diagnostic imaging; located at Zayed Sports City in Abu Dhabi and due to open in mid 2009. The center will include a 45 bed facility which will offer specialist reconstructive surgery and will be the first facility in the region to have a tissue bank.
• Molecular Imaging Center, a specialized molecular imaging facility including PET-CT and Cyclotron, located on the Tawam Hospital Campus, Al-Ain city; due to open in early 2009.
• Minhaal, the first dual-language online resource providing accurate and up-to-date medical information in both English and Arabic; launched in January 2008; www.minhaal.com.
• The National Reference Lab, a fully automated reference laboratory providing services to public and private health providers in Abu Dhabi and the UAE; due to open in late 2008.
• United Eastern Medical Services, Abu Dhabi's privately owned healthcare development & investment company, has signed an agreement with HKS, Inc. to provide architectural services for its new state-of-the-art 160-bed women and children's hospital to be build in Abu Dhabi.
• The Lifeline Hospital Group announced two hospitals the Workers Village in Mussafah and Al Raha in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. The total investment of the two hospitals is $50 million. The construction of the 80-bed Lifecare Al Raha is scheduled to be completed in July 2008. The 100-bed Lifecare Mussafah in Workers Village is expected to be ready by February 2009.
• The Health Authority of Abu Dhabi has a plans to replace the existing 425 beds Al Ain hospital in Al Ain City, which currently treats 250,000 patients a year. It will be built on a plot adjacent to the existing hospital and is expected to open by mid 2011.