More than two-thirds of people living in the United Arab Emirates’ would look abroad for healthcare despite most agreeing they are satisfied with the levels of care provided at home.
Those respondents were narrowly beaten by 41% of Emiratis who said they were happy with the treatments they received in the UAE. The remaining 20% expressed no preference.
The figures back-up previous surveys which repeatedly showed that Emiratis have a lack of faith in their own country’s health care system.
A survey carried out in 2009 found that just over half of Emiratis would seek treatment in another country.
The UAE government has strived to improve health provision in recent years and passed a law in 2006 making it mandatory for residents to have private health insurance. This led to 98% of Abu Dhabi residents buying cover.
The government has tried to attract world-class medical providers and doctors to the country, including Johns Hopkins and the Cleveland Clinic, which has led to more Emiratis seeking treatment in the UAE before travelling abroad.
Dr Sanjiv Malek, a director of DM Healthcare, which runs Dubai’s Medcare Hospital, said: “I believe that the number of Emiratis seeking treatment abroad will reduce drastically over the next five years as more facilities become available locally.
“The UAE has attracted good doctors who are qualified in various specialities which are needed in the emirate and they are helping to transfer their knowledge to the community which is helping to develop local talent.”
Health facilities have improved so much that the number of Emiratis being sent abroad for health treatment dropped by nearly half between 2010 and 2011 from 2,858 to 1,451.
However, there are still large numbers of Emiratis travelling for treatment abroad and the International Medical Travel Journal reveals that nearly 30,000 people did so last year, spending on average £161,900 per visit.
Like many other countries, the UAE suffers from medical staffing issues, while many locals believe there are serious gaps in the treatments.
The country’s health care service is working hard at training doctors to provide continuity of care without having to bring in expat doctors.
The survey compare well with other respondents to the Gallup survey which asked 4,000 people in the Gulf Co-operation Council region about their thoughts on the availability of quality health care.
Qatar came first, with 87% of people expressing satisfaction in state health services and both countries compare well with the United States which saw a 73% satisfaction response in a separate survey and the UK’s figure of 92%.
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