DUBAI- As the United Arab Emirates moves to facilitate a burgeoning medical tourism sector, the increasing capability of organ transplantation within the country is likely to enhance it, according to the senior advisor of Spanish pharmaceutical company, Cinfa.
“Transplantations were sometimes seen as a radical option years ago, but today, with high quality medicines which highly increase the success rate of this kind of operation, it’s a step that allows people to enjoy much better quality lives,” said Dr. El Hakim, senior advisor to Cinfa, which produces immunosuppressant drugs required to protect transplanted kidneys.
“The UAE’s increased transplant services and capabilities will surely help keep patients in the country, as well as bring regional and international medical tourists here,” he added.
As recently as March of this year, Dubai Health Authority (DHA) spokespeople announced that it will build 22 hospitals as part of plans to attract 500,000 medical tourists per year, and boost its economy by up to AED 2.6 billion by 2020.
The UAE’s Ministry of Health predicts that over a million medical tourists will visit the country every year by 2020, aided by announced visa rules in Dubai offering medical tourists a special visa with a choice of travel and accommodation packages, in coordination with healthcare facilities and depending of the specialty of the treatment.
According to the DHA, 107,000 medical tourists visited Dubai in 2012, with the numbers expected to increase to 170,000 by 2016.
The DHA Also recently unveiled its Kidney Transplantation Clinic at Dubai Hospital, where as many as 300 patients are undergoing regular dialysis. Previously, only Sheikh Khalifa Medical City in Abu Dhabi had a transplantation service available to patients, and just last year completed the first ever cadaveric kidney transplant.
Local doctors also continue to call for a national register of organ donors in the UAE to improve the quality of lives of patients currently undergoing medical intervention for failed kidneys. The goal of the register, according to media reports, is to relieve the burden of regular dialysis which has numerous negative side effects.