Raja Al Gurg, Vice-Chairperson, Dubai Healthcare City Authority (DHCA): Interview

Raja Al Gurg, Vice-Chairperson, Dubai Healthcare City Authority (DHCA)

Interview:  Raja Al Gurg

What training and education programmes are needed to build Dubai’s specialised medical talent pool?

RAJA AL GURG: DHCA is making every effort to provide quality medical education domestically with a two-fold objective; to retain talent and to promote sector growth. We recognise the growing health care needs and the gaps in specialisation that exist in the sector. To a large extent, DHCA is mapping these requirements through its medical education portfolio of simulation training, graduate and postgraduate programmes, and continuing medical education workshops.

In the first half of 2014, Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor Medical Simulation Centre trained more than 1400 professionals. The centre has courses in specialties including respiratory, cardiology, diabetes management, anaesthesiology and neonatology. The Mohammed Bin Rashid Academic Medical Centre is overseeing the growth of spaces in undergraduate and post-graduate courses in needed specialisations such as allied health, nursing and midwifery, public health and pharmacy. To achieve high-quality education, we cooperate with international partners like the Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland – Dubai, Cambridge University Hospitals and City University of London, among others. In the first half of 2014, Dubai Healthcare City (DHCC) signed 18 memoranda of understanding with providers such as Siemens, Drager, GE and Johnson & Johnson as part of a strategy that pursues cooperation with corporate leaders to enhance the performance of Dubai’s health care education system.

What steps have the regulatory authorities taken to improve the competitiveness of DHCC’s care providers and medical educational institutions?

AL GURG: Regulation and licensing of DHCC-based health care professionals and operators is handled by the Centre for Healthcare Planning and Quality (CPQ), an independent regulator overseen by DHCA. CPQ was the first independent organisation in the region to attain International Society for Quality in Health Care recognition in 2009 for a set of standards developed specifically for outpatient clinics. In 2014 an independent appeals board was introduced, providing health care professionals and operators with an independent system to appeal against decisions relating to licensing or complaints. We undergo a stringent vetting process to ensure adherence to criteria built around patient safety. Together these aspects strengthen DHCC’s regulatory standards. In turn, stricter regulations attract top talent, improving competitiveness.

How can the emirate compete with established, cost-effective medical tourism destinations in Asia?

AL GURG: Cost is an important factor influencing choice of destination for overseas patients, but quality of care takes priority, and the trend is shifting towards a comprehensive experience for patients and their families. Dubai’s government has introduced tailored criteria for patients seeking treatment in Dubai, specifically three-month medical tourist visas which can be extended twice, for a total of up to nine consecutive months. We work with medical tourism facilitators that connect patients with services such as travel, accommodation and transport. Dubai’s location and infrastructure, plus the required innovation, safety, high-quality regulatory environment and cultural sites, will help the emirate level the playing field with established and cost-effective medical tourism destinations. Already an estimated 15% of patients in DHCC are medical tourists.

In terms of medical offerings in DHCC, in which specialties is further investment required?

AL GURG: DHCC offers 90 specialties, and we constantly monitor demand and plan capacity in line with the growing population, disease prevalence and existing specialties. Tapping into the medical tourism drive, we will cater to the rising demand for wellness treatments. We are committed to forging partnerships to develop Dubai’s health care sector and deliver on the strategy to be the regional centre for medical tourism.

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The Report: Dubai 2015

Health chapter from The Report: Dubai 2015

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