UAE aims to boost medical tourism

August 20th, 2008 - 11:29 am ICT by IANS  

Dubai, Aug 20 (IANS) The United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) health ministry is working hard to develop the necessary infrastructure to boost the country’s medical tourism sector.According to Nasser Khalifa Al-Budoor, assistant undersecretary for international relations and health affairs at the health ministry, a special department has been created within the ministry to focus solely on developing the medical tourism sector in this Gulf nation.

“We’ll be ready to start receiving patients coming here with their families, whether for plastic surgery, knee replacements or cardiovascular treatment,” Al-Budoor said in a statement issued by the Institute for Research (IIR) here.

“We have so many hospitals, with Johns Hopkins, Harvard, some of the biggest names in the world are here doing work,” he added.

Stating that the Middle East could never have been considered for medical tourism earlier, he said the situation has changed dramatically in the UAE.

“People would go to London for shopping with their families and receive a check up or undergo a small operation. Now Dubai is ready for this,” he said.

“We have so much to offer now, with certified hospitals from international agencies.”

The medical tourism industry will also come in focus during the Healthcare Travel Exhibition and Congress 2008 that Dubai will host Nov 2-4.

“There are so many issues relating to medical tourism, and because the area is developing so quickly, it’s becoming essential that hospitals, insurers and policy makers, to name a few, work together closely to streamline processes to cater to this market,” Sietske Meerloo, marketing manager at IIR Middle East, organisers of the exhibition, said.

Global medical tourism is today worth around $50 billion annually.

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