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Thu 27 Jan 2011 10:32 AM

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UAE cannot sustain all-expat medical workforce

DHCC chief says training of nationals is key for future of healthcare system

UAE cannot sustain all-expat medical workforce
NOT SUSTAINABLE: Dubai Healthcare Citys executive director said that UAEs reliance on an expat medical workforce is not sustainable in the long run (GettyImages)

Dubai Healthcare City’s executive director said the UAE’s healthcare infrastructure is not sustainable in the long run without its workforce being comprised of more local nationals.

“In the long run, for sustainability, you need to have more [emirati workers]… a higher percentage of the workforce has to come from UAE and the region,” Dr Ayesha Abdullah told Arabian Business.

“For some time we have to be very practical – we’ll continue to depend on foreign workers,” especially in largely emirati-free fields like nursing.

“We have a nursing and midwifery council that is specifically to encourage young emiratis to go into nursing, and looking at what we need for them to go into the profession.

She said there were signs of growth, particularly at Boston University’s Dubai postgraduate dentistry program, where between 65 and 70 percent of the students are nationals.

“There are initiatives in place, and our role is to bring in more institutes that are going to do training and healthcare related education,” she said. “Education takes four to five years, so it takes time. You have to start somewhere. There’s a lot of good initiatives in place to encourage nationals to go into the medical profession and educating them about [its] importance.”

Funding for DHCC expansion and initiatives is coming from private investors.

“We’re getting a lot of DHCC investments from the private sector,” Abdullah said. “When we meet with equity and investment houses we’re seeing a lot of interest in education and healthcare.”

Abdullah also responded to critics who say DHCC is host to more offices than clinics.

In the coming year, she said, “we’re planning to expand our clinical services offerings – expand getting into gaps like rehab, pediatrics, and encourage some of our providers to do home care – the gaps that are in the region and high demand in the UAE.”

She said DHCC was not only for clinical purposes but to “cater to the value chain of health care, so we have most of the major pharmaceutical and medical services and devices companies, insurance… so we have companies that do background work for the industry.”

DHCC has 90 medical centers including labs and diagnostic and alternative medicine offices.

“We could increase the number of clinical providers that we have but they key is quality. They have to demonstrate a track record and meet international health care standards with licensure,” Abdullah said.

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Muhammad Malik 8 years ago

Its really good the introduce more nationals to healthcare. It would be conveniant for patients and healthcare professionals to understand.