Dubai is set to become the medical tourism hub of the world.
Medical tourism (traveling abroad to undergo elective surgery) has become increasingly popular in the last few years with patients attracted by lower costs of plastic surgery in foreign countries.
Since Dubai is already a leading destination for leisure and tourism and has world-class health facilities and internationally accredited hospitals, the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) held a meeting last week with stakeholders from the medical tourism initiative to discuss the possibility of turning the proposed medical tourism initiative into a reality.
Among the stakeholders present at the medical tourism meeting were representatives of the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs, Dubai Tourism and Commerce Marketing, Department of Economic Development, Emirates airline, Emirates Holidays, and Dubai Healthcare City.
The DHA sees medical tourism as an extension of the hospitality industry which Dubai is known for and therefore sees this as a viable source of revenue. There are 2,518 health facilities in Dubai and more than 70 percent of hospitals have international accreditation. Patients are likely to feel more comfortable with the highly accredited hospitals and therefore Dubai has the potential to draw a substantial amount of medical tourism.
The DHA believes that if the stakeholders work closely together, aligned with the overall medical tourism strategy, Dubai can provide a comprehensive medical tourism system with extensive care and convenience from the time the patient arrives in Dubai, through their procedure to their follow up.
The director of the medical regulation and medical tourism programmed at DHA, Dr. Ramadan Ebrahim, said he’ll be working closely with hospitals, making sure they fulfill the criteria of medical tourism including creating medical tourism packages that will include treatment, visas, hotel accommodation, and recreational activities for family members that may accompany the patients.
Although the packages seem affordable, there are still risks involved with medical tourism. A survey conducted by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons found that 80 percent of responding doctors had treated complications including infection, contour abnormalities, and hematoma after a medical tourism trip.
Medical tourism promises patients the same level of quality care abroad at a lower cost but often the quality is compromised which leads to follow up, corrective treatments, costing the tourist more money.
The first medical tourism package in Dubai will be launched in October this year.