DHA offers cheaper medical tourism packages

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DHA offers cheaper medical tourism packages

Dubai plans to attract 500,000 medical tourists a year and boost its economy by up to Dh2.6 billion in the next five years.

By Asma Ali Zain/deputy Chief Reporter

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Published: Wed 28 Jan 2015, 1:23 AM

Last updated: Thu 25 Jun 2015, 10:42 PM

One of the stalls at the Arab Health Exhibition and Congress at Dubai World Trade Centre. -KT photo by Shihab

Dubai — With the competition heating up, the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) is, for the first time, introducing medical tourism packages at 10-20 per cent lesser rates than those available in the sector.

DHCC to add specialties to boost medical tourism

Asma Ali Zain

dubai — Local health authorities are deploying different strategies in a bid to attract medical tourists to the UAE by offering discounted packages and introducing specialities new to the country.

In it’s upcoming developmental phases the Dubai Health Care City (DHCC) will be introducing medical specialities currently not available in the country, such as Cardiology, Nephrology and Rehabilitation (post trauma).

Marwan Abedin, chief executive officer for DHCC, said, using a different strategic approach, the authority was trying to attract specialist providers — hospitals and centres — as well as medical specialists currently not available in Dubai.

“The government is spending between Dh300-400 million per year on treating patients overseas ... We are trying to look at the new specialities so that we can retain these patients,” he said.

He said at least 5-6 million passengers transit through the Dubai Airport yearly. “We should take advantage of this,” he added.

In 2014, a record 1.2 million patient visited the DHCC, up by 20 per cent from the one million visits reported in 2013 of which 15 per cent were medical tourists. “Patients have been travelling to Europe for long-term rehab treatments but for many with conservative backgrounds, this has been a problem,” he said.

“Dubai can handle such cultural nuances by offering similar ease of settings and languages to patients, especially those from the region,” he added.

DHCC, said Abedin, is equipping itself to cater to accommodate the new specialities. “Oncology department is being added to City Hospital and new announcements will be made soon,” he said.

Dr Fatma AlSharaf, strategy and partner development senior manager, said: “According to findings from a DHCC-commissioned survey released in August, 48 per cent medical tourists come primarily from the GCC; 32 per cent from the wider Arab world; 26 per cent from Eastern and Western Europe; and 23 per cent from Asia.”“The three most popular procedures are: infertility treatments, cosmetic treatments, and, dental,” she added.

asmaalizain@khaleejtimes.com

Available since November last year, the authority has currently introduced packages in three health areas — wellness, fertility and Lasik.

Dubai plans to attract 500,000 medical tourists a year and boost its economy by up to Dh2.6 billion in the next five years.

Essa Al Maidoor, Director-General of the DHA, said: “We are the centre of excellence for many health specialties, therefore, we decided to offer medical tourism packages for these specialties. We intend to extend our medical tourism packages and include more services in the future.” Wellness basic packages include those for men, women, elderly and adolescents starting at Dh1,300 (adolescents), Dh1,800 to Dh2,100 (for elderly) and include a range of checkups including blood investigations and GP consultations.

“Our packages are attractively priced and can be availed of by both residents who are part of the domestic medical tourism initiative as well as visitors who are keen to visit Dubai for medical tourism,” he said.

“These are available at some of the DHA’s primary healthcare centres (PHCs) such as the Al Barsha PHC,” said Dr Manal Taryam, CEO of Primary Healthcare.

The senior citizen package consists of several tests including lipid profile, liver profile and several other tests. The package also provides them with several vaccines such as (those for) hepatitis and influenza.”

Taryam added that preventive screening is of utmost importance, and it is essential for early detection and prevention of diseases. Therefore, both residents and visitors will see the benefit of these packages which are being offered at such attractive rates. “Most of these packages are currently not covered by insurance but they are for the benefit of the people.”

The DHA is also offering fertility packages by the Dubai Gynaecology and Fertility Centre (DGFC). “The DGFC has introduced new packages that are one of the most cost effective in the region. As part of the package, patients will receive a number of free consultations and ultrasound visits,” said Dr Muna Tahlak, CEO of Latifa Hospital.

Tahlak said the centre attracts a high percentage of patients from neighbouring countries and thus this package will be highly beneficial for such patients.   The DHA-run Dubai Hospital will also offer a LASIK eye surgery package. The package will be priced at Dh6,500 and will include all pre-operative assessment and tests, said Dr Abdulla Naqi, consultant ophthalmologist and acting head of the ophthalmology department at Dubai Hospital.

LASIK or Lasik (Laser-Assisted in situ Keratomileusis), commonly referred to as laser eye surgery or laser vision correction, is a type of refractive surgery for the correction of myopia, hypermetropia, and astigmatism.

“In the last six years, we have performed 5,000 Lasik surgeries at Dubai Hospital and we have a high success rate. This service is much in demand and since we specialise in it, we decided to offer this package, which can be availed of by residents and medical tourists,” said Dr Naqi.

asmaalizain@khaleejtimes.com



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