United Arab Emirates
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The healthcare system in Dubai

The Dubai healthcare system is generally of a very high standard, although it has struggled to keep pace with the explosive population growth of the city. The Department of Health and Medical Services (DOHMS) runs around 20 hospitals and clinics in the emirate, with most healthcare for residents provided free or heavily subsidised. Capacity has been increased significantly in recent years but this remains an issue for the DOHMS.

Medical costs are high for visitors, although emergency treatment is always provided free in life threatening situations. Expats who are temporarily resident in the emirate are not entitled to free treatment, however they can apply for a health card entitling them to significant subsidies. Private health insurance is still strongly advised and is provided by most companies who bring workers to the city.

One of the biggest causes of medical problems in Dubai is the heat, with many visitors suffering from heat stroke, heat exhaustion and dehydration, which can all have serious consequences. The level of dust, both from the desert sands and from the 24/7 construction work, can also be a problem for visitors with respiratory issues. Once again, you will be treated free in an emergency, but you need to have good quality insurance for less severe problems, or you will face a significant bill. Just talking to a doctor will cost around £40/$65/€48 with extra costs for any tests or medicines you need and double the charge for night call outs.

That said, the facilities for medical tourism are among the best in the world, with Dubai Medical City leading the field not only in the quality of treatments on offer, but also in the range. While in many countries, such investment creates a two-tier system, with better facilities for tourists than for the general population, in Dubai it is welcomed as it eases the pressure on the otherwise excellent public hospitals, allowing them to better serve the small percentage of Dubai nationals who live in the city.

Whether they work in the private or public sectors, most of the healthcare professionals in Dubai have trained overseas, in the US, UK, India and Europe. The tax-free status of Dubai makes working there very popular, which in turn means that standards can be set very high, with only the most qualified practitioners allowed in.

This cosmopolitan culture also has the advantage that wherever you are from, and whatever treatment you are seeking, there is a good change that you will find a doctor who speaks your language, making your treatment so much less stressful.

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