United Arab Emirates - Health

Health

Main article: Healthcare in the United Arab Emirates

Standards of healthcare are considered to be generally high in the United Arab Emirates, resulting from increased government spending during strong economic years. According to the UAE government, total expenditures on healthcare from 1996 to 2003 were US$436 million. According to the World Health Organization, in 2006 total expenditures on health care constituted 2.6% of gross domestic product (GDP), and the per capita expenditure for health care was US$673. General government expenditure on health as percentage of total government expenditure is 8.7% and Health care currently is free only for UAE citizens, with a health insurance scheme in place for those working the Emirates. Hospital beds (per 10 000 population) was 18 in 2005. The number of doctors per 100,000 (annual average, 1990–2005) was 17 and dentistry personnel (per 100 000 population) was 30 in 2002. The pharmaceutical personnel (per 100 000 population) was 40.

The life expectancy at birth in the UAE is at 78.5 years. According to World Health Organisation (WHO) statistics, the UAE is ranked fourth in the world in terms of health care.

In February 2008, the Ministry of Health unveiled a five-year health strategy for the public health sector in the northern emirates, which fall under its purview and which, unlike Abu Dhabi and Dubai, do not have separate healthcare authorities. The strategy focuses on unifying healthcare policy and improving access to healthcare services at reasonable cost, at the same time reducing dependence on overseas treatment. The ministry plans to add three hospitals to the current 14, and 29 primary healthcare centres to the current 86. Nine were scheduled to open in 2008.

The introduction of mandatory health insurance in Abu Dhabi for expatriates and their dependents was a major driver in reform of healthcare policy. Abu Dhabi nationals were brought under the scheme from 1 June 2008 and Dubai followed for its government employees. Eventually, under federal law, every Emirati and expatriate in the country will be covered by compulsory health insurance under a unified mandatory scheme. Recently the country has been benefiting from medical tourists from all over the GCC. The UAE currently attracts medical tourists seeking plastic surgery and advanced procedures, cardiac and spinal surgery, and dental treatment, as health services have higher standards than other Arab countries in the Persian Gulf.

Cardiovascular disease is the principal cause of death in the UAE, constituting 28% of total deaths; other major causes are accidents and injuries, malignancies, and congenital anomalies. Diabetes and Cancer are also the main causes of death in the country, and statistics have indicated that the UAE has one of the highest rates of diabetes in the world.

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