ABU DHABI: The UAE's healthcare sector is continuing to excel and lead regionally and globally in 2023 in terms of medical services and scientific achievements, reaffirming its readiness to face all health challenges, and in line with the best international standards.
According to the Prosperity Index report by the Legatum Institute, the UAE ranked first in three key global competitiveness indexes in the healthcare sector, for its national early detection programmes, scope of medical coverage, and the antenatal care coverage.
The country also ranked second globally and first regionally in the Health Outcomes Index published by the Open Data Watch in their 2022 Open Data Inventory report.
The UAE topped the list of countries in the Middle East and Africa in terms of innovative drugs containing new active substances and the speed of assessing and approving regulatory drug files.
UAE has the highest healthcare spending growth rate in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), with its healthcare spending projected to reach US$30.7 billion (AED112.6 billion) by 2027, at a compound annual growth rate of 7.4 percent, according to a report by Alpen Capital.
Emirati health authorities, represented by the Ministry of Health and Prevention, the Department of Health-Abu Dhabi, and the Dubai Health Authority (DHA), officially launched a national drug tracking system called “Tatmeen,” the first platform of its kind in the region designed to track and trace pharmaceutical products, and to secure and safeguard supply chains for healthcare facilities in the country.
This year witnessed the launch of the Innovation Strategy 2023-2026 by the Emirates Health Services (EHS), which aims to enhance the sustainability of the future healthcare sector and help achieve the National Strategy for Wellbeing 2031 and “We the UAE 2031” vision, in line with the UAE Centennial 2071.
The UAE’s healthcare sector has highlighted its readiness to respond to humanitarian emergencies around the world. In 2023, the country continued to send medical aid and supplies to several friendly countries, including Syria, Turkiye and Sudan, which have witnessed natural disasters and exceptional circumstances that required rapid intervention and the provision of comprehensive medical, diagnostic and therapeutic services to affected individuals.
The UAE’s spending on the healthcare sector has shown steady growth in recent years. For example, in the federal budget in 2016, AED3.835 billion was allocated to healthcare and community protection services, but this increased to AED4.8 billion in the general budget for 2023.
The UAE continues to enhance its international partnerships in the healthcare sector and is committed to promoting innovation and development. In recent years, the country has extensively utilised artificial intelligence (AI) in healthcare as part of a plan to fully integrate AI in medical services, in line with the UAE Centennial 2071.
The UAE has prioritised its healthcare infrastructure, especially hospitals and medical centres. By the end of 2021, there were 166 hospitals in the country, including 54 government and 112 private hospitals. Additionally, there were around 5,301 medical centres and clinics.
The UAE has also focused on developing its healthcare workforce. According to the Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Centre, in 2021, the country’s healthcare workforce totalled 135,929 individuals, including 27,268 physicians, 7,476 dentists, 12,481 pharmacists, 59,798 nurses and 28,906 medical technicians.