Estimates say that expatriates constitute almost 80% of Dubai’s 1.7 million population. Hence any medical policy would need to cover the expatriates too. The UAE introduced the compulsory medical insurance policy in 2008, where anyone who enters the Emirates would need to have a valid insurance. But Dubai postponed this compulsory insurance plan, as it did not want to exacerbate the exodus of its expat population.
In Dubai on the other hand, the comprehensive, government-funded health service, and a fast developing private health sector, have pushed healthcare indicators to respectable levels. Life expectancy at birth is 78.3 years; infant mortality is 7.7 deaths per 1,000 live births. Malaria, measles and poliomyelitis, once endemic in the UAE, have been eradicated and health promotion campaigns to improve lifestyles are under way. Dubai currently has five government managed hospitals and 17 private hospitals are in operation. There are also 16 government health care and 639 private medical clinics.
The Health system in Dubai is the responsibility of the Department of Health and Medical Services (DOHMS), which gives medical services to all residents. Dubai now has a public health service providing free or very low cost health care for its nationals and it’s important to note that these services are also available to expatriates. Tourists visiting Dubai should have travel insurance that includes cover for private medical treatment, but they also have access to state medical facilities in the case of emergencies. Expats can buy their own health insurance, and apply for a health card from the Health Ministry, which gives access to the state system in emergency. The city of Dubai does not have any obligatory state or employer- contribution health care premiums.
Among expatriates, common health problems include respiratory problems caused by sand and dust in the air – a situation exacerbated by continuous building work in most states. Hard work and long hours in often extreme heat can also affect the immune system and compromise the body’s ability to counter illness. Expatriates – particularly manual workers – can suffer sunstroke and sunburn. In the summer, humidity causes added discomfort, with eye infections common. Dehydration is also a threat and is a potentially fatal condition.
In spite of all this, there are no major health concerns or specific vaccinations required for visitors to Dubai. Dubai has gained a reputation for having some of the best-equipped hospitals in the region. Some of them are:
- Al Wasl Hospital: +971 4 324 1111 (Za'abeel)
- New Dubai Hospital: +971 4 271 4444 (Deira)
- Rashid Hospital: +971 4 337 4000 / Accident and Emergency +971 4 337 1323 (Bur Dubai)
Many of the large projects such as Dubai Sports City include medical facilities in their plans and provide all main medical services, along with a 24-hour emergency service. Sports City, even offers sports medicine and rehabilitation clinics.
UAE is encouraging private health provision, along with private insurance. The aim is to develop the private sector within legal frameworks, as part of an upgrade of both private and public sectors. Private hospitals in Dubai are very expensive and have luxurious surroundings and the cost of these is directly related to the level of luxury you receive.
A list of Dubai Healthcare companies, services, clinics, and other medical organisations is given below.
- American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery Hospital
- Dr. Nicolas and ASP
- Dr. Sulaiman Al Habib Medical Center
- Dubai Gynaecology and Fertility Center
- German Heart Center
- London Centre for Aesthetic Surgery
- Magrabi Eye Centre
- Moorfield's Eye Hospital Dubai
- The City Hospital
Drugs and Pharmacies
It has to be noted that certain prescription drugs and over-the-counter remedies are not permitted in the UAE. According to the Health Ministry, individuals may bring medicine into the country for their personal use. Up to three months' supply of a prescription item can be brought into the country by a visitor and 12 months' supply by a resident if they can produce a doctor's letter or a copy of the original prescription. Narcotic items should not be brought into the country. Ministry of Health has banned the use of tranquillizers, anti-depressants, and even sleeping pills, and these are only available to those with a prescription from a local doctor and a letter explaining the need for such.
Visitors should contact the Ministry of Health drug control department to check whether their medication is on the controlled list, and needs prior permission for importation. The Customer Service Centre of the drug control department can be contacted by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, by telephone on +971 2 611 7240 or by fax +971 2 632 7644.
Most medicines are easily available in Dubai and at least one pharmacy in the city is open 24 hours from 9.30am to 1pm and from 4.30 to 8.30pm or later, Saturdays to Thursdays. Dubai has almost 264 pharmacies.
Medical consultations, night calls, surgeries such as hip replacement and knee replacement are costly with figures comparable to UK private hospital rates. Medicines too are expensive in Dubai. A good comprehensive medical insurance plan is the usual way to avoid an unexpected large bill. A 30-year-old would pay 4,246 AED for a year's comprehensive cover (basic 3,114 AED).
Dubai Healthcare City academic institutions and special needs centers
- Child Early Intervention Medical Center (CEIMC) – center and support services for special needs children
- Stepping Stones Center for Autistic Spectrum Disorders – support services for special needs children
- The Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Academic Medical Center (AMC)
Deaths related to circulatory system illnesses account for a huge 41% of non-communicable diseases related mortalities. Probably due to lifestyle changes or environmental factors, the city's cancer-related deaths are also gathering numbers. It accounts for 16.1% of deaths. The leading kind of cancer is malignant neoplasm found in the digestive system. Expatriates compose the largest number of those diagnosed with infectious diseases, averaging 58.6% of cases.
Health care employees are also increasing in number. Dubai has about 3,500 physicians, 4890 nurses, and 1370 dentists. You may dial 999 to call an ambulance or for most emergency situations.