Visa-Free Travel to Europe for Emiratis to Boost Medical Tourism

Visa-Free Travel to Europe for UAE Patients

Emiratis can now travel through Europe without applying for visas after the European Parliament recently waived requirements. The waiver allows UAE citizens to travel through the 26 Schengen countries without applying for visas, as well as eight non-Schengen states: Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Romania, the Vatican, Andorra, San Marino and Monaco.

The 26 Schengen states are Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Hungary, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

UAE citizens still travel abroad for medical treatment

A Gallup survey of more than 4,000 GCC nationals found 87 % of Emiratis are satisfied with the quality and accessibility of healthcare in the UAE. The country came second behind Qatar. Despite the large majority claiming happiness with the health system, 39 % would still prefer to be treated abroad.

Earlier surveys repeatedly showed dissatisfaction with the UAE’s health care. In a 2009 survey for The National, over half of Emiratis said they would travel abroad for treatment.

Figures released by the Health Authority – Abu Dhabi, show the number of Emiratis sent abroad for healthcare dropped by nearly half between 2010 and 2011. From 2,858 in 2010 to 1,451 in 2011. Oncology and orthopedic surgery accounted for a large proportion of referrals abroad.

Figures from the International Medical Travel Journal show nearly 30,000 Emiratis travel abroad for medical treatment every year. The still somewhat high number is due to lack of local specialist knowledge and gaps in service. In Abu Dhabi staffing remains a challenge to maintaining the high standard of care.

In 2012, a study surveyed more than 2,000 people – about one quarter of them expatriates – who traveled abroad for treatment from 2009 until the end of 2011. Emiratis and expatriates who had gone overseas for health care were questioned for Dubai Health Authority (DHA) and results analysed by the Dubai Statistics Centre.

In many countries, patients rely on the ‘family doctor’ or general practitioner, who will diagnose the symptoms and refer the patient to the suited specialist. In the UAE, people tend to rely on what they hear from friends, or what they read online, and they do not acquire the correct information, according to Laila Al Jassmi, CEO Health Policy & Strategy Sector at Dubai Health Authority.

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Categories:   Medical Tourism


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