Interview: Humaid Al Qutami
The population grew from 1.95m to 2.60m between 2011-16, how is this change being accommodated?
HUMAID AL QUTAMI: As the population has increased the sector has also expanded. To further boost expansion of the sector, we have further streamlined the health licensing process to ease and shorten the time taken to issue and renew the licences of health facilities and professionals. We have launched a strategy for the sector to guide investors, prevent oversupply and encourage investment in priority areas.
Dubai is an attractive location for workers. This helps ensure that we have a steady stream of highly qualified professionals. The number of health professionals increased by 15% in 2017, while the number of facilities increased by 27%. Additionally, we encourage the development of national talent and have provided Emiratis with opportunities to access specialised training in universities in the UAE, as well as abroad.
What strategy is being developed to enforce mandatory health insurance?
AL QUTAMI: We have completed the mandatory health insurance scheme and over 98% of the population is now covered and has access to essential health care services. In addition, plans are currently under way to extend coverage to include visitors to Dubai. Furthermore, DHA will have two new subsidiaries, namely Dubai Healthcare Corporation and Dubai Health Insurance Corporation, which will facilitate the successful execution of these policies.
The short-term goals of the current policies include implementing medical regulation processes in line with international best practice. Furthermore, Dubai is working on revamping the health governance structure, which will result in the increased accountability of hospitals and further improve patients’ experiences and safety. In this sense, we have achieved a big leap in the number of health facilities that are internationally accredited. Currently, 96% of hospitals in Dubai have completed their international accreditation, which is a significant jump from 80% in 2015. The number of physicians per 10,000 patients has reached 33, exceeding the national level of 27 and approaching the level achieved by Sweden, at 39.
Which areas are most suitable for e-solutions?
AL QUTAMI: Several areas of health care can benefit from e-solutions, these range from health management to health delivery and follow-up care. A key project for DHA was the completion of an electronic medical records database. It is a DHA-wide project to provide patients and doctors with access to medical records across all DHA health facilities.
How is Dubai encouraging medical tourism?
AL QUTAMI: Dubai’s goal is to continue to position itself as a global destination for health tourism by increasing awareness about the facilities available. To this end, DHA and the General Directorate of Residency and Foreign Affairs signed a memorandum of understanding to ease visa procedures for tourists coming to Dubai for health and wellness treatment. Furthermore, the Health Tourism Council is also collaborating with Emirates Holidays to provide visitors with tailor-made holidays for health tourists.
What is DHA doing to build programmes to tackle the challenge of lifestyle-related illnesses?
AL QUTAMI: The current framework includes increasing community campaigns that promote healthy lifestyle choices, implementing a screening programme focused on early detection for high-risk individuals, developing preventive interventions, strengthening the overall health system, and supporting it with evidence and guidelines. DHA is also establishing effective partnerships with relevant governmental and private-sector bodies in accordance with the UAE’s broader non-communicable disease reduction policy.
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