Services on par with best in the world

UAE healthcare services are expanding and comparable with the highest international standards in terms of quantity and quality.

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Healthcare services are expanding and are comparable with the highest international standards in terms of quantity and quality, according to the National Bureau of Statistics report. Strategy has focused on increasing longevity, eradicating disease and early detection of chronic diseases. Health programmes have been targeted at mothers, children, students and professionals.

Provision has also kept pace with the growing population over the years. While in 1971 the country only had seven government hospitals, there were 32 government hospitals in 2008. If private hospitals are included, the total number of hospitals in 2008 was 90, the report said. The numbers of healthcare professionals is also rising. Both in the private and public sector, the numbers of doctors, dentists and nurses increased from 2007 to 2008.

Overall, there were an extra 3,000 doctors working in hospitals in 2008, bringing the total to 13,311. The number of doctors in government hospitals increased from 4,711 in 2007 to 5,969 in 2008. Despite the increase in the number of hospitals and the professionals staffing them, the number of hospital beds went down. In 2007, there were 9,683 hospital beds. The following year, the number was 9,176. While the number of hospital beds in the private sector increased, the number of beds in government hospitals dropped significantly - there were 7,607 beds in 2007 and 6,627 beds a year later.

There were 243 government clinics in 2008, up from 197 the previous year. Private clinics dropped from 2,135 in 2007 to 2,057 in 2008. The private sector's role in health has gained importance in recent years with more than 50 private hospitals and more than 2,000 private clinics and health centres in 2008. In 2009, the Ministry of Health established the Federal Health Agency which will implement the best international practices in hospitals and health establishments under the jurisdiction of the Government.

The ministry has also developed laws and regulations that govern the distribution and use of drugs for medical purposes, and for controlling side effects. * Vesela Todorova