Factors driving Dubai’s medical tourism sector

By Dr. Jamil Ahmed, Managing Director of Prime Healthcare Group 

 A growing number of medical tourists are flocking to Dubai to seek a range of effective and cost-efficient treatments, from orthopedics to cosmetic surgery and dermatology to ophthalmology. According to the latest report, more than 320,000 health travelers visited the emirate in 2016, with the sector generating a whopping AED 1.4 billion. The report has further revealed that Asians made up the bulk of medical tourists last year at 37 percent, followed by visitors from Arab and GCC states (31 percent) and Europe (15 percent).

Billions of dirhams more are expected to be generated in the coming years as the Dubai Government continues to beef up its efforts to meet its ambitious target of 500,000 medical tourists by 2020. Besides Asia, the GCC, and Europe, the government is also working towards carving a niche in the West African market, where the combined annual spends on medical tourism of Nigeria and Ghana – two of the biggest markets in Africa region – has already reached over USD 1 billion. There are at least 60,000 medical tourists from the two countries this year as per the estimates of an industry study.  

Amid government projects and programs aimed at building a strong presence in the regional and global medical travel industry, health facilities all over the world have begun to take notice of the emirate’s massive potentials. Dubai is now, in fact, home to world-class hospitals and healthcare providers that offer a portfolio of complete, safe, and holistic medical services delivered by well-trained staff.

In addition, the availability of state-of-the-art medical equipment and skilled health professionals known for their commitment to quality, patient-focused health solutions have helped catapult the cosmopolitan city into one of the most important global markets today. The range of specialties offered here is a major come on as well for many medical tourists who are in search for renowned and trustworthy doctors in the fields of obstetrics and gynecology, cardiology, general diagnostics, and neurosurgery, to cite a few.

A number of hospitals in Dubai are providing contemporary and, most importantly, minimally invasive procedures delivered using advanced equipment comparable to top global medical centers. This further adds to Dubai’s allure as one of the world’s medical tourism hubs on top of success stories from patients who attest to the emirate’s capability and readiness to address their unique needs.  

Strong government support is well in place to position the emirate as a globally recognized destination for health and wellness treatments, while collaborative efforts to promote medical tourism are continuously being established between public and private entities to achieve mutually-beneficial results.

For instance, as an active participant of the Dubai Medical Tourism Club (DMTC), Prime Hospital, which provides personalized, comprehensive, affordable, and quality healthcare, collaborates closely with the Dubai Health Authority to promote Dubai as a prominent medical tourist destination.

Several hospitals here have been providing comprehensive medical tourism packages in a bid to capitalize on the growing industry. In the case of Prime Hospital, the hospital offers packages for an extensive range of treatments such as rhinoplasty, breast lift and reduction, facelift, tummy tuck, liposuction, breast augmentation, gastric sleeve, and gastric bypass. These packages include accommodation, PAC, doctor fees, operating room and anesthesia, routine lab tests, radiology, and medication and consumables.

Prime Hospital’s other special services include round-the-clock medical emergency care; an advanced Cardiac Cath Lab that offers instant angiography; an Adult Intensive Care Unit (ICU); Pediatrics ICU; a Coronary Care Unit; Neonatal ICU; a Stroke Unit; a Day Surgery Unit; and a Family Clinic.

Its team is trained to make the necessary arrangements for its international patients and their families, including visa assistance, hotel accommodations, consultation and/or admission, and airport transfers, among others.

Medical tourism in Dubai, a globally recognized business and leisure tourist destination, is expected to witness more significant growth in the coming years thanks to its excellent healthcare facilities, professional medical teams, and innovative health services. The outlook remains bright for the local medical community as stakeholders continuously coordinate to make healthcare part of the lifestyle experience that the emirate offers to its visitors from all over the globe.