Inclusion of mental health, ayurveda and homeopathy in basic insurance plan empower consumers, businesses

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Ashok Sardana.
Ashok Sardana.
Ally Salama.
Ally Salama.

Dubai - The DHA’s decision to provide blue-collar workers insurance coverage for mental health and alternative therapies, is being seen as a revolutionary move.


Sandhya D'Mello

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Published: Sun 1 Aug 2021, 12:14 AM

The Dubai Health Authority's decision to include alternative medicine, such as ayurveda and homeopathy, addresses the preferences of a significant segment of Dubai’s expats, especially those from the Indian subcontinent,” said Ashok Sardana, founder and managing director of the Continental Group, a insurance intermediary and financial services solutions provider in the GCC region.

“Recent research and technological breakthroughs have enhanced the diagnosis and treatment of disease,” addded Sardana.

“Basic health insurance plans that include alternative medicine and mental and emotional health coverage, will humanise healthcare, and encourage businesses in Dubai to empower both their employees and themselves, through a culture of holistic wellness.”

The DHA’s decision to provide blue-collar workers insurance coverage for mental health and alternative therapies, is being seen as a revolutionary move.

In a circular issued on July 7, the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) upgraded the essential benefit plan, for insurance buyers in Dubai. The announcement stated that blue-collar workers in the emirate will now receive coverage that includes mental health, and alternative therapies — such as ayurveda and homoeopathy — as part of their basic health insurance plans.

Two months from the date the circular was issued, low-income workers with salaries less than Dh 4,000, will be able to avail inpatient, outpatient, and emergency coverage, of up to Dh10,000 a year, for psychiatry and mental health treatments - with outpatients entitled to 20 per cent co-insurance. Additionally, coverage worth Dh2,500 per year will be available for alternative therapies, such as ayurveda and homeopathy, with 20 per cent co-insurance payable for outpatients.

The announcement has been welcomed as a progressive and much needed step, by healthcare professionals, insurance companies, and mental health activists alike; for giving low-income workers access to the facilities that were previously limited to high-end insurance plans.

Holistic healthcare

Ally Salama, the first Egyptian male youth speaker on mental health at the United Nations, and the man behind a #1 trending podcast, and online magazine EMPWR Mag, said: "In my experience, people with mental illnesses often feel isolated and discriminated against, because their condition is misunderstood.”

Globally, corporates and businesses now include mental health programmes and wellness programmes as part of their employee engagement, and employee care packages. From loss in productivity, to absenteeism and low talent retention rates, businesses have huge stakes in ensuring their employees have access to quality mental health services, and alternative therapies. The DHA’s announcement, revising basic insurance plans, is being seen as a boost for such initiatives in Dubai.

“By making mental illness a part of basic insurance will provide everyone access to therapies and services that address these challenges, reinforcing the UAE as a progressive and inclusive society. This initiative will transform the lives of those enduring mental ailments, by making necessary support available at the right time, and will help make them more productive and fulfilled members of society," said Ally.

“As a mental health ambassador I am forever emphasising the need for a shift in mindset, and the creation of a receptive environment to talk about the effects of stress, depression, and other mental and emotional factors. This latest step taken by the DHA is a huge step in the right direction and will empower the continuing efforts to making Dubai a happier and more productive society.”


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