Health in the United Arab Emirates

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Standards of health care 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 health care from 1996 to 2003 were US$436 million. According to the World Health Organization, in 2004 total expenditures on health care constituted 2.9 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), and the per capita expenditure for health care was US$497. Health care currently is free only for UAE citizens. UAE has seven Emirates.

Cardiovascular disease is the principal cause of death in the UAE, constituting 28 percent of total deaths; other major causes are accidents and injuries, malignancies, and congenital anomalies.

The World bank ranked Dubai and Abu Dhabi as being the 2nd and 3rd, respectively, most popular medical tourism destinations in the region, behind Jordan.

Origins of health care in the UAE[edit]

The start of modern health care in the United Arab Emirates can be traced to the days when the area was known as the Trucial Coast. In 1943, a small healthcare centre was opened in the Al Ras area of Dubai. In 1951, under the patronage of Sheikh Saeed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai, the first phase of the Al Maktoum Hospital was built and continued over succeeding years until a 157-bed hospital was completed.[1] In 1960, Sheikhs Shakhbut and Zayed of Abu Dhabi visited an American mission in Muscat and were so impressed by what they saw that they invited the couple in charge, Pat and Marian Kennedy, to open a clinic in Al Ain, which they did in the November of that year.[2] This became officially known as the Oasis Hospital, unofficially as the “Kennedy Hospital” to local people. In 1966, a small outpatient department opened in Abu Dhabi, followed a year later by the appointment of Dr Philip Horniblow with a brief to develop a national health service. This led the then ruler of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Zayed, to open a new hospital, the Central Hospital, in 1968.[3] The Private sector has also made enormous contributions in the U.A.E led by the Gulf Medical University and the GMC Hospitals as the pioneers in private medical education and healthcare sectors.

Health care systems[edit]

The UAE now has 40 public hospitals, compared with only seven in 1970. The Ministry of Health is undertaking a multimillion-dollar program to expand health facilities and hospitals, medical centers, and a trauma center in the seven emirates. A state-of-the-art general hospital has opened in Abu Dhabi with a projected bed capacity of 143, a trauma unit, and the first home health care program in the UAE. To attract wealthy UAE nationals and expatriates who traditionally have traveled abroad for serious medical care, Dubai is developing Dubai Healthcare City, a hospital free zone that will offer international-standard advanced private health care and provide an academic medical training center; completion is scheduled for 2010.[4]

Emirate of Abu Dhabi[edit]

Effective January 2006, all residents of Abu Dhabi are covered by a new comprehensive health insurance program ; costs will be shared between employers and employees. Prior to 2007, government owned health care facilities were managed by the General Authority for Health Services, GAHS. In 2007, this authority was restructured into:

  • Health Authority – Abu Dhabi, HAAD is responsible for regulating the healthcare industry and developing Abu Dhabi’s health policy.
  • Abu Dhabi health Services Company, SEHA is responsible for managing government owned healthcare facilities in Abu Dhabi. Currently, SEHA manages 57 Primary Health Care Centers, 13 Hospitals, 3 Maternal and Child Health Centers, 3 Specialized Dental Centers, one center for Autism, and 5 Specialized Facilities like rehab, blood bank and herbal center.[5]

Emirate of Dubai[edit]

  • Dubai Health Authority (DHA): for public and private healthcare facilities in the Emirate of Dubai
  • Ministry of Health (MOH): for public and private healthcare facilities in the Emirates of Sharjah, Ajman and the rest of the north Emirates, also few public facilities in Dubai like Al Baraha Hospital and Al Amal Psychiatric Hospital.

Genetic Disorders[edit]

In 2009, 119 genetic disorders were identified among Emiratis and 241 among Arab citizens and expatriates combined in the UAE. This is the second-highest incidence of genetic disorders in the Arab world (after Oman).[6] Autosomal recessive disorders are common in the UAE. Hemoglobinopathies are one of the most common disorders among the UAE nationals. Beta-thalassemia constitutes a major public health problem in the UAE. During 1989-2004, more than 850 patients have been registered at the Dubai Genetics and Thalassemia Center. Surveys have shown that the UAE exhibits one of the highest carrier frequencies of β-thalassemia in the Arabic Gulf region which is 8.5%.[7] Pre-marital medical examinations in the UAE, excluding the HAAD, include blood group tests, sickle cell anaemia, hepatitis B and C, German measles, haemoglobin variance, HIV/AIDS, thalassaemia, and syphilis.[8]


In 1985 the UAE established a national program to prevent transmission of acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) and to control its entry into the country. According to World Health Organization estimates, in 2002−3 fewer than 1,000 people in the UAE were living with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)/AIDS.[4]

Health survey[edit]

A health survey will cover 5,000 nationals as of March 2009. [9]


One out of every four citizens of the United Arab Emirates has diabetes, at a rate of roughly 20% for residents, 25% for Emirati nationals.[10] UAE Ministerial Council declared 2009 "Anti-diabetes Year" on January 11, 2009.

2009 flu pandemic[edit]

  • May 24: First case confirmed.[11]
  • June 25: 8th confirmed H1N1 case
  • July 21: 110 H1N1 cases in the country, of which 30 originated within inside. The government has announced urgent steps to tackle the virus, including setting up thermal scanners at malls and giving companies the right to cancel residence visas of employees who contract it abroad.[12]
  • July 27: Community outbreaks confirmed in United Arab Emirates
  • July 31: 110 cases.[13]
  • August 21: MoH announces UAE's first swine flu death.[14]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ ”Our History – Dubai Health Authority”
  2. ^ "Oasis Hospital History"
  3. ^ Beshyah, Salem and Anas, "Central Hospital of Abu Dhabi: Forty Years of Service to the Community (1968-2008)"; Kazi, Nazir Mohammad, “Early Days of Health Service in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates: A Personal Perspective”, Ibnosina Journal of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Vol. 5, no. 2 (2013), pp. 99–13 [1]
  4. ^ a b United Arab Emirates country profile. Library of Congress Federal Research Division (July 2007). This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  5. ^ Seha, Abu Dhabi Health services Co. (12 October 2008), Electronic Patient Care Reporting System Issue date, retrieved January 23, 2009 [dead link]
  6. ^ Elass, Rasha (22 September 2009), Arabs bear brunt of gene disorders, retrieved September 22, 2009 
  7. ^ Erol, Baysal, Genetic Disorders in the Arab World: United Arab Emirates (pdf), retrieved February 8, 2009 
  8. ^ El Shammaa, Dina (January 30, 2009), Couples urged to screen health before marriage, Gulf News, retrieved February 13, 2009 
  9. ^ "MoU signed for UAE health survey". Gulf News, The Nation, Health. December 28, 2008. Retrieved January 22, 2009. 
  10. ^ SETRAKIAN, LARA (Dec 23, 2007). "UAE and Diabetes: One in Four Has It". ABC news. Retrieved January 11, 2009. 
  11. ^ "UAE confirms first swine flu case". iol. May 25, 2009. Retrieved August 1, 2009. 
  12. ^ El Shammaa, Dina (July 21, 2009). "H1N1 cases put pressure on hospitals in UAE". Gulf News. Retrieved August 1, 2009. 
  13. ^ ECDC SITUATION REPORT Pandemic influenza (H1N1) 2009, EUROPEAN CENTRE FOR DISEASE PREVENTION AND CONTROL, Update 31 July 2009, 17:00 hours CEST, p. 5, retrieved August 1, 2009  Check date values in: |date= (help)[dead link]
  14. ^ MoH announces UAE's first swine flu death, Update 21 August 2009, 17:00 hours CEST, retrieved August 23, 2009  Check date values in: |date= (help)