The practice of medical tourism has been in existence for decades, especially among citizens of underdeveloped and developing countries who visit medical centers in developed countries around the world for treatment. Due to poor healthcare services in the countries of origin, the need for medical tourism, if it can be afforded, is paramount for survival.
The most sought-after treatment resulting in medical tourism amongst undeveloped and developing countries include; weight loss treatment, fertility treatment, cardiovascular treatment, cosmetic treatment, orthopedic treatment and cancer treatment which cannot be satisfactorily received in their home country due to lack of inadequate medical infrastructure, and high expenses. According to a report, around 650,000 people traveled from Africa for medical tourism in 2015. Since then, the numbers have been rapidly growing with the African market losing billions in medical tourism each year.
Dubai is Rapidly Growing as a Destination for Medical Tourism
In recent years, Dubai is slowly emerging as the preferred destination for medical tourism amongst international travelers, ranking sixth in the Global Medical Tourism Index issued by the International Healthcare Research Centre (IHRC). Besides its breathtaking tourist attractions from its impressive skyline, to spectacular buildings, glamorous malls, mouth-watering cuisine, high-end restaurants, 5-star hotels, stunning beaches, and dazzling nightlife, Dubai has become the latest trend in medical tourism.
Over the years, the country has invested in healthcare infrastructure with the aim of becoming one of the best medical tourism destinations in the world rapidly surpassing countries like France and Brazil with the introduction of an affordable and more effective medical care system.
The Healthcare System in Dubai is managed by the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) which have put in place effort to develop medical tourism as a means of attracting tourist and improving the city’s economy. As the medical tourism market continues to improve in Dubai, it has attracted international patients from around the world and has become the number one top medical destination in the Arab region.
It also received the highest ranking in the region for its handling of the COVID -19 pandemic. Dubai Healthcare offers several healthcare treatments ranging from dental surgery, cardiac surgery, cosmetic surgeries, psychological treatment, and convalescent care amongst others. However, according to reports, orthopedics, dermatology, and ophthalmology are the most sought-after treatments.
While Dubai has seen rapid development in its medical tourism market and has become a famous medical destination for people in pursuit of cheaper/ more effective medical care, the medical tourism market remains quite competitive. Countries like India, Turkey, Malaysia, Brazil, and Singapore are known for their effective medical treatments which have been a major source of attraction to international travelers.
- India is home to world-class medical professionals, with effective medical services. The country’s medical tourism market is ranked No.1 in the medical tourism sector by Medical Tourism Index. India’s healthcare offers medical treatments like spine treatments, Cardiac surgery, Gastroenterology, orthopedic treatments, oncology, fertility treatments, and complicated surgeries like Organ transportation.
- Turkey is a popular medical tourism destination for travelers in need of eye care, cancer treatment, orthopedic, and heart care.
- Malaysia is prominent for its high-end medical facilities and it offers oncology treatment, blood work, general surgery as well as in-vitro fertilization.
- Singapore is a cost-effective medical tourism destination and it is known as one of the best medical tourism destinations in Asia. It is a great tourism destination for patients in need of general treatment like cardiology, cancer treatment, and oncology. Singapore has International Patient Service Centers (IPSCs) which act as a medical travel agency to mediate between international patients and Singaporean healthcare providers.
- Brazil is popular for its cheap and impressive cosmetic surgery. It has one of the most thriving medical tourism markets in the world.
- Germany is widely known for its innovative technologies for surgeries. The country was ranked 12th by Medical Tourism Index. It offers healthcare services ranging from oncology, cardiac surgery, Neurosurgery, Orthopedics, Hematology, and Oncology.
- The United Kingdom is ranked fifth in the global ranking of medical tourism destinations by the world by Medical Tourism Index. The country is prominent for its state-of-the-art medical facilities. The United Kingdom offers services like Oncology, Trauma treatment, Diabetes treatment, skincare treatments as well as fertility
- Canada has been ranked as one of the most preferred destinations by the Medical Tourism Index. It is popular for its surgical procedures i.e. angioplasty, joint replacements, plastic surgery, and coronary angiography.
Why Dubai Should Be Your Preferred Medical Tourism Destination
1) Outstanding Infrastructure and Facilities
Dubai is a slick country that has continued to attract international visitors with its marvelous real estate from the Burj Khalifa skyscraper, to the spectacular beaches, glamorous hotels, splendid weather, and thriving food scene. As a country with outstanding infrastructural facilities with major tourist attractions, international travelers are wooed and this account for one of the reasons why Dubai has seen a major boost in its medical Tourism market. Today, Dubai is one of the most sought-after Medical Tourism destinations for its breathtaking setting and convenient geographic location.
2) Timely Access to Healthcare Services
Dubai has put in place an efficient healthcare system that enables international visitors to get fast and easy access to any medical treatment. This is one of the major attractions of Dubai as a medical tourism destination for international travelers who cannot tolerate the long wait lists in their home country. Due to a large number of qualified doctors and nurses in Dubai hospitals, the medical process which usually takes months in other countries is reduced to a day or two in the city.
3) Inexpensive Medical Cost
The major reason why Dubai is now regarded as one of the most sought-after medical tourism destinations is the high standard of healthcare with affordable costs. Due to the price regulations and laws put in place by Dubai Health Authority, healthcare institutions in Dubai are directed to maintain reasonable prices. While medical treatment cannot be said to be cheap, it can be gotten at a lower and more reasonable cost in comparison to places like the United States of America and the United Kingdom. This makes it the perfect destination for travelers who do not have insurance coverage for treatments like skin care, dental treatments, and orthopedics.
4) No Language Barrier
Dubai is arguably one of the most diverse and cosmopolitan cities in the world with almost 200 different nationalities residing in the United Arab Emirates and 80% of the population being emigrants. With the diverse population, there is a host of medical professionals who are well versed in the language of their home country and this helps in erasing the language barrier amongst international travelers looking for medical treatment.
English is most widely used for communication in Dubai and most locals are bilingual, thus creating no communication problem. In situations where communication is a problem, international visitors can hire translators and interpreters who can assist them during their medical tourism.
5) State-of-the-art Art Medical Facilities
The lack of medical facilities is one of the major reasons people embark on medical tourism. International travelers who are unable to undergo treatments in their home country are irresistibly attracted to Dubai for its innovative facilities. The city has invested heavily in its healthcare system, including the procurement of high-end medical equipment.
Dubai offers world-class healthcare facilities equipped with cutting-edge technology like 3D printing technology for dental treatments and other reconstructive surgeries, wireless brain sensors, and CRISPR. The medical facilities are designed to ensure that medical procedures and recuperative needs are effectively carried out for patients. Dubai introduced the use of medical drones for transporting packets of blood to the hardly accessible villages of Rwanda in 2016.
6) Qualified Medical Professionals
Dubai’s healthcare system is home to well-trained and qualified medical experts who acquired training from the top universities around the world. The medical experts have immense knowledge in their respective fields which complements the healthcare facilities put in place.
In Dubai, a medical body oversees and ensures that only highly-trained medical practitioners are licensed to practice medicine. The medical staff display professionalism and are very efficient in carrying out their respective duties. Moreover, they are available 24 hours a day for providing quick and effective medical attention to patients.
7) Introduction of the Medical Tourism Portal
Government initiatives are inarguably one of the driving factors for the development of Medical Tourism in Dubai. Dubai Health Experience (DXH) portal was launched by the government back in the year 2016, to provide tourists with the best medical tourism services. Through the portal, international travelers can receive information on accredited healthcare providers, book medical appointments, receive medical insurance, accommodation reservation, get information regarding visas, and book transportation amongst other services.