If you are planning to move to the UAE, healthcare in Dubai won’t disappoint you. As long as you and your family are insured you will have access to good hospitals, skilled doctors and modern medical facilities.
Dubai has made health insurance compulsory for expats, visitors and residents. Although in most cases its the responsibility of employers to cover their staff, sometimes it can add financial burden to your bank account as well, especially if you have dependents.
What Healthcare in Dubai is Like
Most medical facilities and healthcare in Dubai in general are up to Western or European standards. However, because the government allowed free access to medical services to all qualifying individuals, doctors are stretched in terms of their time – and facilities and amenities are also under pressure. This is what mandatory health insurance in Dubai aims to rectify.
Ultimately it’s worth keeping in mind the fact that Dubai has long-term plans to become a centre for medical excellence and tourism, and it’s therefore seen as essential that they raise the standards in terms of the consistency of what they can offer.
The majority of Britons who relocate to the emirate do so to take up employment. Under a new law employers are responsible for insuring their staff, but not dependents, although some employers do provide cover for dependents as well. If you’re thinking of living in Dubai and you’ll be working in the UAE, do inquire whether your employer will cover your family. If not, and a private insurance seems too expensive for you, the Essential Benefits Plan will be your best choice.
Health Risks in Dubai
According to the National Travel and Health Network and Centre, which is commissioned by the Health Protection Agency in the UK, expats in Dubai are potentially at risk of hepatitis A and B, rabies and tetanus, therefore you should seek personal medical advice from your GP before moving to Dubai to determine whether you should undergo a vaccination program.
Most expats don’t bother however…but the official word is that you should at least consider your options.
In terms of staying healthy in Dubai, the sun is a very important factor to consider. In the UK we see it so infrequently that when in a sunny nation we’re often guilty of over exposure. Bear in mind that the temperatures in the middle of the day in Dubai in the peak of the summer can top 50 degrees centigrade…that is not a temperature the human body can easily deal with.
Respect the sun, respect the heat. Some of the most common health complaints suffered by Dubai residents are as a result of excessive heat. When travelling even short distances in your car ensure you have plenty of water on board in case you get stuck in a jam or break down, as dehydration is also a high risk.
Otherwise, despite screening all new residents, sexually transmitted diseases are present in Dubai. Most expats prefer to drink bottled water; additionally be careful of food hygiene as dodgy tummies are very common in the emirate!
Here are the 8 essential elements of healthcare in Dubai that all expats need to know:
- As discussed above compulsory health insurance is mandatory in Dubai.
- Most expats in Dubai have private medical insurance because it allows them access to the ‘better’ private hospitals and clinics. Depending on your age and health, premiums start from as low as about £700 a year and go all the way up to over £5,000 for a young family with a premium level of insurance.
- Some companies cover their staff’s dependents, but they are not obliged to. If they do, this is a valuable benefit in kind.
- Depending on where you herald from, your age and general health, you may need inoculations before you travel to Dubai – although most expats will tell you this is nonsense! We would strongly recommend you speak to your GP before travel to get the most up to date information about any potential jabs you should have.
- When it comes to drugs – prescription and narcotics – the laws in Dubai are extremely strict, and punishment for an infringement is extremely severe. Some prescription or over the counter drugs that are deemed acceptable in most nations are banned substances in Dubai. If there are drugs you have to take you can take the following course of action. Contact the Ministry of Health’s drug control department to check whether your prescribed and essential medicines are on their banned list – email firstname.lastname@example.org or call +971 2 611 7240 or fax +971 2 632 7644. Note that up to 3 months’ supply of a prescription item can be brought into the country by a visitor and 12 months’ supply by a resident if the item is not on the banned list, and you can produce a doctor’s letter or a copy of the original prescription to support your possession of the items. If in doubt, and you do not need the drugs, do not take the risk, leave them at home.
- Local health concerns particular to Dubai include HIV/AIDS, STDs and hepatitis for those who use the services of prostitutes – respiratory problems because of the sand and dust, and issues arising from the extreme heat that the region endures during the summer. Beware of dehydration, heat stroke and sunburn. Try and acclimatise gently and ensure children are kept cool.
- Investment into private healthcare in Dubai is significant and ongoing. Expatriates can benefit from this if they can afford good private insurance.
- Take personal recommendations from other expats, your new colleagues and even your neighbours so that you can find out who the best doctors are and where the best treatment centres are. There is plenty of choice and getting a testimonial is preferable to operating on a trail and error basis!