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Wed 3 Oct 2007 09:31 AM

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Abu Dhabi health sector positive, says report

Good outlook for healthcare in UAE capital due to marked private sector investment and radical changes.

Healthcare in Abu Dhabi is going through a period of pronounced private sector investment, radical changes to the insurance system and a shift in government focus from operational to regulatory responsibilities, according to a report published by the Oxford Business Group.

Government resources are stretched by the soaring cost of basic national healthcare, the report notes, outlining the larger role played by the private sector. Recent public-private tie-ups include contracts between government hospitals and leading US providers Cleveland Clinic and Johns Hopkins.

Dr Ahmed Mubarak Al Mazrouei, chairman and CEO of the Health Authority - Abu Dhabi (HA-AD) said that privatisation was the eventual goal for the health sector.

"We are moving forward with initiatives to make sure the private sector is the provider of healthcare services in the emirate of Abu Dhabi," he said. "We are bringing in the best international companies to manage our hospitals. The next step will be to privatise. [HA-AD] will be a regulator, bringing our hospitals to international standards."

The overall healthcare picture is positive, the report notes. The insurance industry received a boost last year, as the first phase of the new health insurance law demanding cover for all expatriate workers and their families was implemented in July 2006. The regulations should make Abu Dhabi a more attractive investment opportunity, the report states, and is seen by Al Mazrouei as vital to improving medical services in Abu Dhabi.

"You cannot work in a good healthcare environment without health insurance in place. This will mean improved infrastructure, quality of care, free access to patients and the ability to audit hospitals according to their quarterly reports."

Despite attempts to improve the healthcare infrastructure, however, the report showed the system still requires an increase in the supply of hospital beds. In 1995 the UAE provided 2.8 beds per 1000 population and in 2005 it only provided 2.3 beds per 1000 population.

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