Interview: Princess Haya bint Al Hussein

To what extent would the industry benefit from increased regulatory harmonisation across the UAE?

PRINCESS HAYA BINT AL HUSSEI: Harmonisation would encourage investment, enhance the ease of doing business, facilitate movement of health care professionals and help the standardisation of quality across the emirates. It would also enhance care by eliminating a patient’s need to transfer from one facility to another depending on physicians’ practice privileges, giving patients access to a larger talent pool. Harmonisation would also speed up the process of licensing health care professionals, eradicate duplication and save time and money. But most importantly, it would drive quality of care, standards and best practice across the emirates.

How is the private health care sector regulated?

PRINCESS HAYA: The private sector is regulated by the Center for Healthcare Planning and Quality (CPQ) for facilities based in the Dubai Healthcare City (DHCC), and the Dubai Health Authority for the rest of Dubai. Regulating private health care can be achieved in a number of ways, including checking the credentials of health care professionals, enforcing accreditation of facilities, ensuring correct data reporting, checking medical centres’ regulatory compliance through surprise checks, as well as monitoring the quality of services and care through the use of “mystery shoppers”.

How can the private sector engage in health care?

PRINCESS HAYA: Historically, health care has been provided by governments throughout the region. However, as the sector becomes more sophisticated and costs increase, governments must find ways of meeting citizens’ needs, particularly when it comes to secondary and tertiary health care services. The private sector has recognised the potential of the region, which has led to the emergence of more private providers. As the private sector develops, it will bring increased investment and expertise into the industry while at the same time easing the burden on the public sector.

In what ways can academia and research help advance Dubai’s health care industry? What opportunities are available for foreign institutions?

PRINCESS HAYA: The countless innovations and medical breakthroughs across generations underscore the tremendous importance of academia and research in health care. The Arab world has a rich history of achievements in science and medical research, and we can draw inspiration from this legacy to ensure we continue to provide quality and innovative health care. DHCC acts as a catalyst for research, as well as the provision of first-class health care services.

The free zone model gives world-class health care practitioners from around the globe the opportunity to visit Dubai to engage in collaborative and transnational research, into diseases that are prevalent in the region. Projects at the DHCC, like the medical simulation centre, promote research in the GCC region and contribute to knowledge on a global scale. Additionally, through the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Academic Medical Centre, DHCC collaborates with internationally renowned institutions to encourage and facilitate the establishment of medical programmes.

What strategy is being developed for the health insurance system, and what are the main obstacles to its implementation?

PRINCESS HAYA: The government, under the leadership of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, ruler of Dubai, is committed to ensuring that everyone has access to high-quality health care. Although implementing the strategy has its challenges, the policy and draft law on the mandatory health insurance scheme is in the final stages of approval. Once implemented, every individual living in Dubai will have access to basic primary health care at both public and private hospitals, irrespective of income. The goal is to increase access to quality health care services, contributing to the long-term welfare of the nation and ensuring that all citizens enjoy convenient access to health services.