ghp June 2015

40 | ghp June 2015 public health Can UAE Reach Ambitious 2021 Health Goals? The United Arab Emirates government is seeking a world class health system within six years, as goals laid out in the Vision 2021 Agenda. This report finds that the UAE health sector has undergone far-reaching change over the last decade, from mandatory insurance to management outsourcing and regulatory reform. Today’s report looks ahead to the key milestones that need to be reached to attain the country’s goals. Staffing and skills have been on an upward curve since 2007, but more is needed to meet 2021 targets, including a steep increase of 50% in the number of doctors from 2012 levels. Expatriates will be a major contributor to this expanded workforce but remain transient, which reduces the embedding of relevant skills and sensitivities. “While the UAE is attracting health workers from many countries, additional incentives could encourage longer duration, which brings greater continuity of care,” says Adam Green, editor of the report. Government and health providers may wish to explore financial compensation to reward length of service, as well as perks such as speed of immigration process- es and the possibility of full ownership of a medical practice. While the UAE scores well on liveability indicators, such initiatives could help it ascend the global league tables as an expatriate destination for healthcare professionals. The report also explores the growing role played by the private sector in health delivery. Management outsourcing of public hospitals, and the creation of ‘free zones’, has attracted several regional and international health companies. To support invest- ment further, policy makers could consider regulatory A new Economist Intelligence Unit report, commissioned by Abu Dhabi investment company Waha Capital, evaluates the current quality of healthcare in the United Arab Emirates and identifies key challenges to be overcome to reach the government’s 2021 goals. harmonisation. Differing protocols and standards across each Emirate makes it harder for companies to attain scale. Relocating staff is difficult due to differing licensing processes, for example. Finally, the report finds that data on health service quality is steadily improving - helping patients make informed choices about treatment. Providers are increasingly accredited to international standards, and the government is requiring more data reporting on metrics such as waiting times and readmissions. After years of scant information, which led many patients to seek treatment abroad because of their lack of faith in domestic services, the UAE (especially Dubai and Abu Dhabi) is now collecting more informa- tion than ever before. The publication of comprehen- sive patient service quality data will for the first time provide an objective rather than anecdotal picture of the region’s service quality. “With plans to collect and publish more of this critical data over 2015 and 2016, patients will be able to make informed decisions about local treatment, and government and insurance companies can use such data as leverage in remuneration policies, pricing and licensing,” says Adam Green.