The DHA’s main objectives and areas of strategic focus are the following. If you wish to view the entire DHA strategy booklet with Themes, Goals and proposed initiatives please press here …
Strategic Goal 1 – Better Health
The central objective of all health systems is to make people healthier. This requires not only access to world-class healthcare services but also specific measures to prevent diseases and injuries from occurring in the first place – and a focus on prevention as well as cure.
Objective 1.1. Reduce the Burden of Non-Communicable “Lifestyle” Diseases
Reducing the incidence of diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer – and underlying risk factors such as tobacco consumption, unhealthy diet and inadequate physical activity – is a high strategic priority. Progress in this area requires a mix of intervention strategies including risk factor prevention, early case detection and effective treatment as well as the development of advanced systems for disease surveillance and monitoring.
Objective 1.2. Reduce the Burden of Communicable/Infectious Diseases
Dubai has made excellent progress in the control of infectious diseases. Many diseases that were common less than a generation ago have been eradicated through collaboration between local and federal health authorities and municipal bodies. Like all dynamic, open economies, however, continued vigilance is required to manage the risk of new and emerging infectious diseases and ensure that past achievements are protected and maintained.
Objective 1.3. Reduce the Burden of Injuries
Injuries remain a major cause of preventable death and disability in Dubai despite considerable progress on road safety, public awareness, workplace safety and occupational health. Reducing this burden requires collaboration among government entities including DHA, the Roads and Transport Authority, Dubai Police, the Dubai Foundation for Ambulance Services and the Dubai Municipality, as well as collaboration between the government and key stakeholders in the construction and industrial sectors.
Objective 1.4. Improve the Health Status of UAE Nationals
Protecting and improving the health of UAE Nationals is a high priority for DHA and reflects the special place of Nationals in UAE society as well as the Government’s strategic focus on the well-being of this important group.
Objective 1.5. Reduce the Burden of Disease by Promoting Clinical Best Practice
Dubai attracts healthcare providers from many countries and has one of the most diverse communities of health professionals in the world. This gives people a wide choice of languages, practice styles and cultural comforts when seeking a healthcare provider – but it can also lead to inconsistency in the treatment of common conditions such as diabetes, asthma, cardiovascular disease and depression. Ensuring that all health professionals in Dubai use a consistent, standardized body of internationally-validated and locally-adapted practice guidelines for these conditions will improve the quality and consistency of healthcare and expand the range of settings in which patients can be treated – including potentially a greater role for primary health care.
Strategic Goal 2 – Access
Access means that people can obtain health services when they need them at prices they can afford, in locations that are convenient and easy to find. Expanding and facilitating people’s access to healthcare requires action on multiple fronts. Spatial or geographic access involves ensuring that key services are located close to where people live and work and can be reached easily when needed. This is particularly important for primary health care, where convenience is key, and emergency services, where time and distance can mean the difference between life and death. Financial access is equally important and involves ensuring that everyone, irrespective of income, can afford basic healthcare services when needed. Information too can help facilitate access to health services, from simple guidance on the availability of healthcare providers to information on qualifications, experience, performance and prices.
Objective 2.1. Ensure closer access to primary healthcare facilities
Primary health care is the foundation of all high-performing health systems. It is efficient, providing a wide range of front-line services at lower cost than hospitals and specialized facilities; personalized, involving close, long-term relationships with their patients and families; effective, focusing on prevention and lifestyle as much as diagnosis and cure; and convenient, delivering the services people need most in locations that are close to their homes and workplaces. Existing primary services in Dubai provide excellent coverage in many areas despite some geographic and functional gaps.
Objective 2.2. Ensure people get care in a timely manner
Planning healthcare services to meet future needs is a complex and challenging task in all health systems but especially in those experiencing rapid and ambitious growth. Meeting this challenge requires a sophisticated approach to health planning that combines internationally-validated standards and rich local data to inform decisions on service expansion, investment promotion, capital investment and manpower development. It also calls for specific measures to fill identified gaps – whether by the government directly or through partnerships and incentives involving the private sector.
Objective 2.3. Facilitate investment in high-priority services and geographies
Facilitating the development of a comprehensive range of world-class healthcare services in the Emirate of Dubai is a key strategic objective of DHA. But this is not a task for the government alone. Dubai has a large and robust private medical sector and a long history of excellence in private healthcare: indeed Dubai’s private medical sector accounts for a larger share of healthcare activity than anywhere else in the GCC. It also has a strong network of public facilities and specialized centers that provide a range of services not covered by the private sector. Future expansions, especially in specialized services, will require a new model – one in which public and private sectors not only co-exist but also partner directly to finance, build and operate facilities and services together. Public-Private Partnerships have been used in many countries to expand service availability and improve access and can play a similar role in Dubai if adapted to local needs and circumstances.
Objective 2.4. Ensure affordable financial access to basic healthcare for the entire population
Access to health services is not simply a function of geographic proximity or the availability of health professionals and services. It also depends on financial access – the ability of people to afford health services when they need them and avoid catastrophic financial burdens when they fall ill. Safeguarding this access calls for a sustainable solution – one that distributes responsibility for health spending in a balanced way across individuals, employers and the government and includes explicit measures to ensure that prices, especially for basic services, remain reasonable and affordable for all. The solution should also take advantage of the existing capacity and capabilities in the private sector and the health insurance industry, both of which have important roles. The specific initiative is as follows:
To develop and implement a Health Funding policy that assures full coverage for UAE Nationals, basic coverage for residents is affordable for the economy and does not hurt business competitiveness.
Objective 2.5. Ensure UAE Nationals have efficient, sustainable access to high quality services in Dubai and abroad
Providing UAE Nationals with access to world-class healthcare services is an important priority of the DHA. The Authority’s long-term goal is to facilitate the development of a comprehensive range of world-class health services in the Emirate of Dubai . This will improve convenience for the population and will reduce the need for overseas treatment except for the rarest or most severe of cases. Until this goal is achieved, the Authority will use innovative approaches to ensure that UAE Nationals continue to enjoy access to high-quality, cost-effective care in a way that does not disadvantage local healthcare providers or impede the development of the local healthcare industry while continuing to provide overseas care for cases of highest need.
Objective 2.6. Expand consumer access to information on health and healthcare
Consumers can play an active role in making healthcare decisions if they have access to accurate, meaningful information. Basic information such as the location and availability of healthcare facilities and services can help with simple decisions like choosing a specialist or finding a diagnostic facility. More sophisticated information – such as the qualifications of a healthcare provider or the price and average length of stay at a particular health facility – can further enhance people’s ability to make informed choices for themselves.
Strategic Goal 3 – Quality
Quality has been a fundamental goal of health care and medical practice since ancient times. As health systems have evolved in scale and complexity, governments have come to play an increasing role in monitoring, protecting and improving health care quality – both as providers of health services themselves and in their regulatory role and oversight of the health sector as a whole.
Objective 3.1. Maintain and improve quality standards at health facilities
Physical and operational standards play an important part in the delivery of safe, high-quality health services. At a basic level this involves making sure that minimum quality standards are met in all healthcare facilities through traditional measures such as licensing, inspection and the application of remedial measures. Beyond this, however, providers are encouraged to aim for even higher standards – above the basic levels necessary for safe and efficient care – by obtaining international accreditation. The objective in both cases is to provide a reliable and safe physical and operating environment in healthcare facilities while balancing other objectives such as the need to maintain accessibility and affordability.
Objective 3.2. Ensure quality, stability and availability of health professionals
Ensuring a stable supply of high-quality health professionals is a challenging task – especially given the global shortage of health professionals and the wide range of destinations competing for highly-qualified medical, nursing and allied health staff around the world. Dubai already has one of the most diverse health professional communities in the world. Upholding quality standards in such a diverse community is a major regulatory challenge. Equally challenging is to ensure that existing healthcare providers are treated fairly in the drive to upgrade and introduce new standards and to promote stability in the health workforce by attracting health professionals who make long-term commitments to Dubai.
Objective 3.3. Protect consumers via transparent, accessible complaints procedures
Safeguarding quality does not end with facilities and professionals: it also requires measures to engage patients, their families and the general public in monitoring health system performance and supporting them when things go wrong.
Objective 3.4. Assure quality and supply of undergraduate, postgraduate and continuing medical education in Dubai
Making sure health professionals have access to high-quality education and training programs is an important part of the DHA’s strategy to safeguard and improve clinical quality and attract outstanding healthcare professionals to live and work in Dubai.
Objective 3.5. Ensure sufficient volume and case-mix to ensure quality and choice
Planning the future of healthcare services in Dubai is a complex task that encompasses both the public and private sectors and aims to strike a balance between competing objectives such as quality, choice and convenience. If the supply of facilities and professionals in a given specialty is too low, people are inconvenienced by long waiting times– but if the supply is too high, healthcare providers fail to get the volume and complexity of cases needed to maintain skill levels and quality of care can decline. Achieving this balance calls for a sophisticated, evidence-based approach to health planning and the oversight of healthcare providers.
Objective 3.6. Promote evidence-based decision-making by collecting and publishing high-quality data and statistics
High-quality data and statistics are essential for evidence-based decision-making in the health sector – not only for the government but also for healthcare providers, insurance companies, individuals and households. This calls for measures to improve the quality and comprehensiveness of statistical data and transform it into forms that are useful for policymakers, investors and the general public.
Strategic Goal 4 – Efficiency
Efficiency and sustainability are vital to progress on other important goals such as quality, access and better health. They also represent an important interface between the health sector and government-wide strategic objectives such as investment promotion, fiscal management and economic competiveness.
Objective 4.1. Reduce cost, error and duplication by facilitating the flow of information between and among patients and providers
Facilitating the efficient and secure flow of information among health care payers, providers and users can have a significant impact on quality and efficiency reducing medical errors, avoiding duplicate tests and generally improving the speed, accuracy and continuity of care. This can only be achieved by using an agreed-upon set of standards and norms to protect the privacy, confidentiality and security of healthcare data and developing an integration infrastructure that facilitates the exchange of data without unduly limiting the freedom of payers and providers to make their own technology choices.
Objective 4.2. Optimize the introduction of new healthcare services and technologies through evidence-based "Health Technology Assessment"
Medicine is an evolving discipline in which new technologies are introduced and old ones upgraded on a constant basis. A key challenge is to manage the introduction of new services and technologies in a way that gives people access to state-of-the-art healthcare but does not compromise other important objectives such as quality, efficiency and sustainability. This challenge is met by “Health Technology Assessment” as a discipline that uses health planning, biomedical science, health economics and clinical epidemiology to answer the question, “Which services and technologies do we need – and how much should we use.
Objective 4.3. Promote fiscal and economic sustainability of healthcare in Dubai
Promoting fiscal and economic sustainability in healthcare is a major issue in all countries as health expenditure is driven ever upward by factors such as income growth, technological innovation, population aging and lifestyle change. Dubai spends less on healthcare as a percentage of GDP than many of its peers, thanks to its young population and large number of expatriate residents – but its investment-oriented economic model nevertheless calls for a balanced sharing of responsibilities between the government, the private sector and households to ensure that the system remains sustainable into the future.
Objective 4.4. Strengthen Dubai’s economic competitiveness and improve the investment climate for healthcare
Dubai’s open and welcoming business environment is a major factor behind its emergence as a global center for trade and investment. Maintaining this environment is a key objective of the Dubai Strategic Plan and applies equally to all sectors – including health. Simplifying regulations is part of the solution – to minimize the cost of regulatory compliance for investors and employers – but this needs to be balanced with the requirements of fiscal and economic sustainability and the need to create suitable conditions for development of the health sector itself. Consumer protection and effective regulation of the payer-provider relationship are at the heart of this complex balancing act.
Objective 4.5. Support and motivate research on key health policy issues
Facilitating policy research on health and healthcare in Dubai is a central part of the DHA’s mission. While some research will be carried out by the DHA itself, much of it will be done in collaboration with external stakeholders such as firms, individuals, academic institutions and the professional community.