UAE's high-end medical services at low costs encourage more to remain here

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Aden - Yasmine El Tohamy - The total UAE medical tourism sales amounted to Dh12 billion in 2018.

Now more citizens and residents are staying back in the UAE for their treatment due to availability of global talents and world-class health services, says Avivo Group CEO Dr. Atul Aundhekar

An increasing number of UAE citizens and residents who used to travel to countries such as the UK, the US, Thailand, India and Germany for quality medical treatments are finding better local alternatives for their health-related issues, according to an industry expert.

"Outbound medical tourism, which drains out the economy, is gradually witnessing a decline. High-end medical services and availability of international talents for the delivery of world-class health solutions are gradually changing the attitude. Now more citizens and residents are staying back in the UAE for their treatment," said Avivo Group's chief executive officer Dr Atul Aundhekar.

"Earlier a few reports suggested that the UAE's outbound medical tourism market is expected to cross $24 billion by 2025. However, the attitude is changing fast as high-end medical facilities being available in the country at quite reasonable rates," he pointed out.

"Interestingly, now an increasing number of patients and wellness tourists from the GCC, Europe, Africa, Russia and China are visiting the UAE, particularly , each year making the sector grow steadily," he added.

According to the Dubai Health Authority, the emirate alone attracted 337,011 medical tourists in 2018 for treatments in the leading specialities of orthopaedics, sports medicine, dermatology and skincare, dentistry and fertility treatments.

Avivo Group is one of the key partners of Dubai's Health Tourism Initiative that aims to attract 500,000 medical tourists by 2021. "Dubai integrates tourism activities, health, healing relaxation services as well in the safest and most secure environment," said Dr Atul.

"In terms of affordability, we are giving tough competition to the medical giants of Thailand, Hong Kong, India and China. Cost structure-wise, we are better than the US and European countries. Quality-wise, our services are no way inferior to any leading health organisation of the European states and much superior to our counterparts in East Asia," he added.

"Many Emirati patients used to go to Germany for treatment: But things are changing fast. Now, most of them prefer to stay back and resolve health-related issues in the country itself. The outbound medical tourism is apparently reducing day by day," he pointed out.

According to a report by Euromonitor International, the total UAE medical tourism sales amounted to Dh12 billion in 2018, up 5.5 per cent year-on-year. "Expo 2020 will have a major effect on the country's health tourism in the coming years," Dr Atul concluded.
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