DHA and GDRFA hold meeting with private hospitals to discuss medical tourism visa procedures

WAM Dubai, Nov 25th, 2012 (WAM) — In a move to streamline the medical tourism initiative for the Emirate of Dubai, the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) and the General Directorate of Residence and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) recently held a meeting with private sector hospitals at the DHA headquarters.

The meeting was aimed at providing the private sector with information on how to apply for a medical tourism visa for their overseas patients who are keen to utilize the health facilities in the Emirate.

Engineer Essa Al Haj Al Maidour, Director-General of the Dubai Health Authority, said: “In line with the directions of H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Dubai Executive Council, we are working with all relevant stakeholders to streamline the medical tourism initiative for the Emirate. Dubai is the world’s leading destination for tourism and leisure and since Dubai offers excellent healthcare facilities, medical tourism is an extension of the hospitality that Dubai is synonymous with. Unification of policies and processes will ensure smooth functioning of a dynastic health sector and will benefit both medical tourists as well as the healthcare providers.” The DHA and GDRFA have designed a process for hospitals to comply with.

Laila Al Jassmi, CEO of Health Policy and Strategy at the DHA said: “Hospitals will have to request for a �treatment visa service quota’ from the DHA. This will be applicable for those hospitals who intend to cater to medical tourists. The DHA will approve this quota and the hospital will be able to apply for only those number of medical tourism visas as stipulated in the quota. This is to ensure hospitals are not over or under utilize their services and it also protects the medical tourist.” She said that this is a one time requirement and hospitals need to reapply only if they expand their capacity.

Al Jassmi added: “The rest of the procedures for the hospitals remain the same. Hospitals still need to apply for a �facility establishment card’ which is a requisite from the GDRFA. The card has all the details of the hospital, including number of employees and is used for prompt facilitation of medical tourist visas.” Major Jasim Ali Rashed Ahli, Director of Entry Permit Department at GDRFA, said: “In line with the directions of Major- General Mohammad Ahmed Al Marri, Director-General of the GDRFA, we will continue to provide patients who wish to seek treatment in Dubai, with easy visa services. The process for applying for a medical tourist visa remains the same. The hospitals will have to sponsor the patients.” Major Jasim added that this type of visa has been in place since 2008 and is only issued to hospitals that sponsor patients and their accompanying family members. He said, “The patient needs to get his or her medical report attested from the UAE consulate in the patient’s residing country and the hospital needs to submit this along with the requisite documents.” The visa is a three-month visa and is extendible twice, which means the patient can stay in the country for nine months at a stretch. Ahli said, “For this particular visa, we do not have a rule that the patient should remain out of the country for one month after his initial three months are over. We are dealing with the life of a patient and therefore these visas are given top priority and are issued or renewed immediately, as needed.” Al Jassmi added that this is the first phase of the initiative. She said: “Presently we are only inviting JCI accredited hospitals and those that are in the process for getting such international accreditations. In the next step, we will include specialized clinics as well as spas and wellness centres.” Marwan Abedin, Chief Executive Officer, Dubai Healthcare City, said: “This project is of vital importance to the overall health sector in Dubai as all relevant stakeholders including immigration, the aviation industry, the hospitality sector, public and private hospitals are coming together to position Dubai as a medical tourism destination and to streamline the process of bringing patients to Dubai.” Dr Ayesha Abdulla, Managing Director of Dubai Healthcare City, said: “Medical tourism is a growth engine and can contribute to the GDP of the overall country in due course of time. Dubai has excellent healthcare facilities and healthcare is a sector which has been witnessing significant growth and development over the last few years.” WAM/AM