Healthcare in United Arab Emirates



The United Arab Emirates boasts of an expansive public health care system that works in perfect sync with a growing private health sector. The collaboration benefits not only citizens but expatriates and visiting foreigners as well. 

Twenty-eight years into pursuing the best health care for its citizens, the UAE has finally achieved its prime, its relentless campaigns inspired by love for its people who are considered the most important resource of the land. Actual statistics point to this development such as UAE's 47th ranking in the 2015 Human Development Index (HDI) which proves it is among the most developed nations in the world based on three basic areas of human development, namely life expectancy, education and general standard of living. Certainly, excellence in these areas constitutes excellence in the country's general health care system.

A Glance at UAE’s Healthcare System 

Overall speaking, the UAE is comprised of seven emirates namely Ajman, Umm al-Qaiwain, Ras al-Khaimah, Fujairah, Sharjah, Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Each of these emirates has absolute monarchies and varying state of economy whereas those with higher oil wealth are considered as the most developed. Dubai and Abu Dhabi are the wealthiest of the seven which means that the quality of healthcare is at the highest in these two emirates. 

United Arab Emirates’ healthcare system is generally divided between the private and the public sectors and is regulated at both the Emirate and the Federal level. The different regulatory authorities that oversee the country’s public healthcare services are: 

At present, the health care landscape in the UAE is concentrated on maternal and child care as well as health and health education in the nation's schools. It also devotes its services to specialized areas of concern such as far-flung localities and providing accessibility to major state-of-the-art facilities in the urban areas and even abroad. 

Healthcare Coverage for Expats 

Taking care of UAE's expatriate community is a special package of privileges in the form of free health care which, however, excludes social security benefits when an expat is unable to work because of illness. The private healthcare sector comes quick to respond by collaborating with employers in providing health benefits and insurance packages that will be coursed as part of employees' remuneration packages. But currently, the UAE government mandates all employers to provide health coverage for expatriate employees which means health insurance is no longer part of employees' remuneration but is, in fact a government mandated privilege. The mandate has also boosted annual health insurance premium growth in the country by as much 15 to 20 percent.  

Doctors and Medical Services 

Medical staff such as doctors and nurses in the UAE is highly trained whereas some are even went to school abroad. A majority of them speak several foreign languages including English, making communication easy expats. Nursing care is also provided in this country and most of the personnel in this field came from the Philippines. Both the private and the public sector are armed with the latest medical equipment and treatment that’s why its no wonder why Abu Dhabi and Dubai are becoming rapidly popular in the world of Medical Tourism. 

Today, health care in the Emirates is anchored on forty public hospitals. The government is continuously strengthening its efforts to develop more health facilities, including a trauma unit in each of the emirates. In Abu Dhabi, a 143-bed centre is fully functional as UAE's very first home health care program while the Dubai Healthcare City, touted to be the world's biggest private health care and academic medical training and research hub, has opened its doors to both locals, expatriates and sick people who have travelled the globe to seek its staff's medical expertise. Other prominent hospitals in the UAE are: 

19th Street, Dubai

Tel: +971 4 336 7777 

Port Rashid Road, Al Mankhool Area- Dubai

Tel: 04 4063000 

Al Zahra Street - Sharjah, Dubai

Tel: +971 6 506 0000 

Al Najdah Street. - Abu Dhabi

Tel: +971 2 508 5555 

Medicines in the UAE 

Pharmacies are widely available across the UAE and most are located in major cities, inside large shopping malls and along main tourist destinations. This country also offers an extensive range of prescription drugs, over-the-counter medicines and medical supplies. Expats bound to UAE should be mindful that prescriptions must only be issued by a local doctor and pharmacies here don’t recognise prescriptions from abroad. Anti-depressants, sleeping pills and tranquilisers are strictly prohibited in the UAE and expats using these medications should secure a notarised translated copy of the prescription along with the original cover letter from the prescribing physician.


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