Questions & Answers: Essa Kazim, head of regulation, Dubai Health Authority

30 October 2008
Dubai is reviewing regulation of the healthcare industry in an effort to attract foreign investment, manage a more transparent sector as well as raising standards to international levels.

Why is the system being overhauled?

As the population of Dubai continues to grow, the need for more healthcare facilities and professionals also grows.

The government of Dubai is committed to ensuring that quality remains at the forefront of this growth. The Dubai Health Authority’s regulation will be responsible for monitoring this growth and setting suitable standards that the healthcare sector in Dubai will have to meet.

In addition, the new system aims to make Dubai a more attractive place for future healthcare investment, attracting the best international facilities and professionals by ensuring that the process of locating to Dubai is as efficient as it can be.

How are international models influencing the basis for new regulation?

The DHA regulation team have looked at a number of international models including the UK, US, Australia and Canada but we will look to develop a system that is best suited to Dubai based on local and regional experience.

To license and register all facilities is a major undertaking. Will private and public services have the same standards enforced?

Yes, the DHA is the government of Dubai's strategic health authority. It is responsible for health strategy and policy, health regulation, health funding and public health. It will not be a service provider and will have the same relationship with the public and private sectors.

Similarly, licensing all professionals will be a large task. How are international institutions involved in this?

The DHA health regulation team is committed to ensuring the best quality of healthcare in Dubai.

We are looking at local experience, together with regional and international expertise. Full details will be made later this year and into 2009, when we will make full and thorough public announcements on the new regulation and licensing system in Dubai.

Insurers complain that private clinics can charge what they like and carry out too much work. How will you tackle this?

Licences will be linked to quality and performance, and we will be introducing a comprehensive complaints process, built along international guidelines.

Again, I cannot say too much at this stage as we are still finalising our recommendations. But the DHA is undertaking a comprehensive review of the health sector in Dubai, and DHA health regulation is one of a number of ways that we as a strategic health authority, will be able to drive quality and standards, and manage a more transparent and accountable health sector.

Concerns exist over insurers, their financial security and competency. How will they be regulated to ensure patients get a fair deal?

Our colleagues in the DHA health funding team are currently in the process of introducing a new mandatory health funding system based on contributions ranging from employers to the government, in order to provide access to good quality basic healthcare for everyone living and working in Dubai.

It will not be an insurance-based model but will put the health of the patient at the heart of the new system, whereby the medical community will be free to make the right choices for the patient based on medical expertise.

The risk will be carried by the government who will also then pay clinics and hospitals to carry out this service.

Everyone will be free to secure additional insurance for any additional healthcare.

We at DHA health regulation will be responsible for ensuring that all healthcare in Dubai, meets the same minimum standards and quality.

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