NOW AND THEN: United Arab Emirates’s Rapid Healthcare Growth

by: Shofia, Safiya Fathina Avivi (SCOPE CIMSA FK Unpad 2020)

From only having one small healthcare center, United Arab Emirates (UAE) has enormously grown to become a destination of medical tourism. Shall we dive into the evolution of UAE’s health care together?

Back Then, The Facilities Distribution Was a Struggle

In the year 1943, the UAE only had a small healthcare center in Al Ras, Dubai. Then, in 1951, the early phase of Al-Maktoum Hospital was built under the leadership of Sheikh Saeed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum. Despite only serving 157 beds for the entire nation, the hospital was a remarkable milestone for the underdeveloped country where the people still relied on traditional remedies.

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Their Leaders Learnt a Lot From Other Countries

UAE leaders, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan and Sheikh Shakhbut, were inspired by the work of two American doctors and activists, Pat and Marian Kennedy. The leaders then invited Pat and Marian to help develop a clinic in Al Ain, which is officially known as the Oasis Hospital.

The Evolution Continues

The opening of Oasis Hospital brought a domino effect, contributing to many hospital openings in the following years. Not only increasing the number of healthcare facilities, but UAE also strives to improve the healthcare workforce in both quality and quantity to provide world-class healthcare nationally and internationally.

Now, The UAE’s Health Care Is Known for Its Quality

Today, the UAE has an excellent health service to provide high-standard health care for the population. The UAE has 65 hospitals, 15 of them are federal institutions, over 150 primary healthcare centers and clinics, 11 school health centers, 10 centers for mothers and children, and 110 special units for mothers and children in hospitals and primary health-care centers. Besides the number of infrastructures, the UAE provides mandatory health insurance for all residents and visitors since 2008.

Growth is Not Without Challenges

UAE’s achievement in healthcare development is not a walk in the park. Their health system must face challenges from the population growth due to migration and a rise in healthcare spending per capita. Good coordination between stakeholders must also be maintained to support the growth constantly. All in all, the United Arab Emirates is now growing strong by prioritizing several things, such as evidence-based policy, improvement of the resources’ standard, and strengthening their public health program.

Insightful Note from UAE

The history of the UAE’s healthcare system has taught us that, with a strong will and plan, even a small country with inadequate resources can rise into one of the countries with the best healthcare quality.


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