The UAE has a comprehensive, government-funded health service and a rapidly developing private health sector that delivers a high standard of health care to the population. In many parts of the UAE, health care delivery is undergoing a significant transformation.
Most of the infectious diseases like malaria, measles and poliomyelitis that were once endemic in the UAE have been eradicated, while pre-natal and post-natal care is on par with the world's most developed countries: the new-born (neonate) mortality rate has been reduced to 5.54 per 1000 and infant mortality to 7.7 per 1000. Maternal mortality rates have dropped to 0.01 for every 100,000.
As a consequence of this high standard of care at all stages of the health care system, life expectancy at birth in the UAE, at 78.3 years, has reached levels similar to those in Europe and North America. To date, health care in the UAE has, by and large, been funded by the Government. As with other sectors, this emphasis is evolving and public-private partnerships are becoming more important.
Public policy focuses on developing organizational and legal frameworks based on best practice, to upgrade the private and public sector health service capabilities. In addition, public policy action will set priorities for health services development within the sector.
Health Care Transformation in Abu Dhabi
Health care delivery in Abu Dhabi is undergoing a significant transition that will affect the entire spectrum of stakeholders: patients (citizens and expatriates), providers and those responsible for planning, assuring the quality of services and financing the health system. Key objectives for the Health Authority in Abu Dhabi are to:
Improve quality of care, always the primary consideration, to be promoted through application of rigorous service standards and performance targets for all.
Expand access to services, giving all residents access to the same standard of care with the power to choose health care services thus promoting excellence through free-market competition.
Shift from public to private providers safely and efficiently so that private providers, rather than government, services health care needs, with the role of government restricted to the development and enforcement of new, world-class health care standards.
Implement a new financing model through a new system of mandatory health insurance.
Compulsory insurance for all workers, including domestic, is funded by sponsors. The compulsory health insurance plan for private sector employees, as implemented in Abu Dhabi, will come into effect across the country in 2008. Hallmarks of the new system include a clear and transparent reimbursement process, affordable access for all residents and reliable funding for quality health care in Abu Dhabi.
A charitable fund will continue to operate for underinsured expatriates and also cover more serious medical conditions such as cancer, dialysis, polytrauma and disability.
A new unified health insurance system in Dubai for nationals and non-nationals is also planned and it is expected that the scheme will eventually be rolled out across the country.