UAE as medical hub will benefit the region

An overwhelming number of visitors for medical purposes are from GCC countries, as well as from the wider Arab region. Lee Hoagland / The National
An overwhelming number of visitors for medical purposes are from GCC countries, as well as from the wider Arab region. Lee Hoagland / The National
With world-class health facilities, skilled staff and globally accredited hospitals, the UAE is fast emerging as a regional hub for medical tourism. As The National reported yesterday, Dubai hospitals, for example, are drawing in patients for a slew of procedures, including treatment for infertility treatment, cosmetic surgery and dentistry. There are clearly economic benefits to be accrued by this, but also ones that directly relate to better health for all.

Statistics suggest that an overwhelming number of visitors for medical purposes are from GCC countries, as well as from the wider Arab region. That is not surprising. For those travelling from Saudi Arabia or Oman, Lebanon or Egypt, the UAE is a natural choice: it is close to home, and there are linguistic and cultural similarities that help foster better understanding between them and their doctors. Indeed, it is important that patients feel as at ease as is possible during what are usually stressful situations.

Medical tourism has been described as one of the fastest growing sectors in the world. In five years, it is predicted that it will be worth $32 billion (Dh117bn) annually. A burgeoning medical hub will create employment for Emiratis in high-tech, highly skilled jobs. It will also attract other medics from around the world, who will find here the opportunities to practice at the highest level of the healing science. That, in turn, will provide an impetus towards more research that establishes the country's standing in the medical world. It is all a virtuous circle.

Why? Take, for example, one finding we reported on yesterday: that an increase in demand for fertility treatment is perhaps attributable to other underlying medical problems. If these issues are in any way specific to our region, then it is better that investigations into them are conducted in the region, so that any treatment that might emerge takes into account the unique nature of patient profiles. Thus, as more patients come to the UAE, the country's medical fraternity will become even better at providing the care the region's patients need.

As economies mature, jobs tend to migrate towards the services end of the spectrum. Medical science fits that bill. But unlike other service jobs, health care occupations are also highly remunerating. And that is what makes "knowledge industries" so important.

Published: August 18, 2014 04:00 AM

SHARE

Editor's Picks
NEWSLETTERS
Sign up to:

* Please select one