By Sarah Townsend
Five-year strategy unveiled as HSBC warns poor health could affect retirement plans of half of UAE residents
Dubai has launched a five-year strategy to improve health services in the emirate.
Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, announced the strategy on Tuesday.
It comprises 15 programmes and 93 initiatives across four categories – health and lifestyle, service provision, ‘smart’ healthcare (using technology to streamline decision making and services) and governance).
The Dubai Capacity Plan for healthcare states that 7,323 more doctors and 8,510 nurses are needed within the next 10 years.
There are around 33,000 medical professionals in the emirate at present, to Dr Layla Al Mazrouqi, director of health regulation and the Dubai Medical Tourism Project at the Dubai Health Authority, told the launch last week of King’s College London’s planned string of UAE hospitals and clinics.
Sheikh Mohammed said: “The emirate of Dubai is facing the challenge to improve healthcare services and rise to our ambitions and aspirations for establishing Dubai as a main medical destination in the UAE and the wider region where one billion people are living around us.”
His announcement came as a new HSBC report claimed almost half of UAE residents believe poor health will prevent them from fully enjoying retirement.
The bank released its 2016 ‘Future of Retirement’ research, which surveyed more than 1,000 UAE residents to examine their attitudes towards life after work.
The report found 46 percent of working age people believe problems associated with ill health will make saving for retirement difficult.
More than 61 percent said they were unable to predict how much they will spend on healthcare once they stop working, HSBC said, citing separate research by Deloitte showing that healthcare spending in the UAE is expected to increase by 6.9 percent annually to $19.6 billion by 2018.
In the UAE, said HSBC, around 66 percent of men and 60 percent of women are considered overweight or obese according to the 2013 Global Burden of Disease study by the World Health Organization, with lifestyle-related diseases such as diabetes, particularly prevalent.
In particular, the survey found 33 percent of respondents said poor health would affect them in retirement in terms of their ability to take care of others; the same proportion said poor health would affect their mobility, and the same proportion again said poor health would affect their ability to work, according to HSBC.
Meanwhile, 16 percent of 25-34-year-olds in the UAE spend money on prescriptions and medicines – although the report did not put a figure on this.
It said 34 percent of those aged 55 years and over said they spend money on medicines, and 36 percent on doctors.
Several international medical facilities have opened branches in the UAE in recent months, including the Imperial College London in Abu Dhabi, Moorfields Eye Hospital in Dubai and the Dubai London Clinic.
Al Mazrouqi told 7Days at the King’s College event. “The hospitals are becoming more specialised and more tourists are coming in.
“We’ve got our Dubai capacity plan and goals until 2020. It mentions that there are a number of hospital beds are needed and many more clinics and specialty hospitals are needed.
“There are a big number of nurses and doctors that are required.
“We had a lot of general hospitals that have now become specialised hospitals and clinics are upgrading to become daycare surgeries.
“As a government entity of Dubai, we are encouraging more investment in the healthcare industry.”
The strategy was reportedly drafted by 11,000 employees of the Dubai Health Authority (DHA), as well as DHA leaders, owners and directors of private health facilities, pharmaceutical and IT companies, companies manufacturing medical formulas and insurance agencies.