Written by Christian Schuhmacher, Chief Executive Office, King’s College Hospital London in Dubai
It is not a secret that medical tourism across the globe took a big hit since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. But what many predicted would take many months if not years to overcome, Dubai has achieved in less than 7 months – tackling and eventually flattening the coronavirus curve, which led to the lifting of entry restrictions to leisure tourism and medical tourism. This has been made possible as a result of the coordinated response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and as such, the sector has been projected to bounce back stronger than it was.
In fact, before COVID-19 hit, Dubai’s medical tourism sector was projected to welcome about 500,000 medical tourists by 2021, which it’s still on track to achieving. In addition, according to the International Healthcare Research Center (IHRC), Dubai rose in the 2020-2021 Global Medical Tourism Index to rank #1 in the Arab world, and #6 in the global front out of 46 destinations. And with this sustainable growth in the medical tourism sector, Dubai is driven to become a global leader.
Coordinated COVID-19 Response
If you recall a few months back when the coronavirus curve was at its highest point in Dubai, the World Health Organisation (WHO) commended the UAE for leading the front in COVID-19 fight by conducting the highest level of testing per million in the world. This was, and still is an effective strategy of keeping track of the virus, which is pertinent to knowing the necessary measures to take in combating the epidemic.
And by unifying all the precautionary measures that were put in place together with the integrated healthcare system in the UAE that bonds all the key health delivery systems, Dubai is leading in the ‘Great Comeback’ where medical tourism is concerned. This coordination of efforts by relevant government agencies, from Dubai Health Authority and Dubai Ambulance, to Dubai Police, Dubai Municipality and many others, has bore fruit in tackling COVID 19 in Dubai.
What Makes Dubai a Safe Bet for Medical Tourists?
Seeing how Dubai has successfully addressed COVID-19 as a result of the solid integration and collaboration across the healthcare sector and other government sectors, patient mobility is returning. With the resumption of elective medical procedures, reopening of airports and the aggressive coronavirus testing and sanitization protocols put in place, it is a clear indicator that Dubai is ready to get back on track to becoming the preferred global health tourism destination.
During a recent webinar by the Dubai Health Authority themed ‘Dubai Leads the Great Comeback’ the sector’s readiness to welcome health tourists was high on the agenda, with an increasing number of medical tourists from around the globe now waiting to resume their impending flight plans to Dubai. This process has also been amplified by several government initiatives including simplifying the access to medical visas, wide range of medical expertise and disciplines, and an integrated healthcare system.
But how safe is Dubai? The Dubai government in coordination with the city’s health authorities, has gone to great lengths to implement strategic safety measures to stop the spread of the virus and ensure patient safety upon arrival; from mandatory wearing of masks and social distancing, routine testing at various entry points, a continuous sanitization programme, and a high-level commitment to help patients recover just to name a few.
To add on to this, while speaking at the ‘Dubai Leads the Great Comeback’ webinar, Dr. Marwan Al Mulla, CEO – Health Regulation Sector, Dubai Health Authority, echoed that the government’s commitment and effort to address the impact of the pandemic has put Dubai on the path to recovery rather soon, with the exemplary actions of the government allowing the UAE to be ranked as one of the safest nations during the pandemic – number one in the Arab region, and one of the world’s top ten in managing COVID-19. So, it is incontrovertible that the city is safe, and ready to welcome back medical tourists.
How Medical Tourists Will Benefit from Leading Medical Expertise
When it comes to the provision of healthcare services, Dubai is home to world-leading medical expertise, the latest diagnostic techniques and state-of-the-art medical facilities. King’s College Hospital in Dubai is one of the leading healthcare facilities in the region with a 360 approach to healthcare, from diagnostics to patient care and patient safety.
The hospital has played a vital role in the collaborative efforts of Dubai to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic in coordination with King’s College Hospital UK. Medical tourists coming to Dubai are set to benefit from the multi-disciplinary teams of medical expertise available at King’s in Dubai, and that of our colleagues from King’s UK with whom we are closely linked to. Together we have adapted a unified approach in providing the best and the most up-to-date care available.