Banks pull the plug on UEA healthcare projects


Recession has affected the progress of medical tourism in Dubai.The banks have got cautious and stopped funding construction of healthcare projects in Dubai Healthcare City and elsewhere on hold. Healthcare businesses in the UAE have felt the impact of the recession and plans to become a major medical tourism destination have suffered a setback, although some argue that banks have panicked unnecessarily.

Dr Azad Moopen of Dr Moopen's Group, says, "In the UAE, economic downturn has not had a big impact on healthcare business. We are on track in terms of number of patients in our hospitals and clinics that cater to professionals and the well-to-do part of the population.”

Raza Siddiqui of ETA Star Healthcare adds, "By and large the healthcare business is recession proof, in the sense that whether the times are good or bad and whether you are rich or poor you will always need medical attention. Numbers did fall in February and March but now things are fine and we are witnessing normal volumes of patients in our hospitals.”

Dr Mohanakrishnan of Eurohealth Systems notes,” The plan to become the healthcare tourism destination of the region has been affected by recession. Many of the projects in Dubai Healthcare City and other places are on hold. However, this is just a temporary thing and it will pass. Things will start moving again once the situation eases. The UAE needs to do a few things before it can fulfill its ambitions to becoming a medical tourism destination. They need to develop the infrastructure, they need to bring in more in-house experts in major procedures and they have to be more cost effective. The UAE has a lot of potential to become the medical tourism hub, especially where cosmetic surgery and infertility treatments are concerned. And the good news is that people from the United States, the United Kingdom and Middle East and North Africa are already travelling to the UAE for these procedure."

Dr Moopen adds: "Some specialist hospitals were supposed to come on stream by the end of this year or early next year but these have been deferred. Many of the projects that would have provided advanced tertiary and cardiac care have been delayed or put on hold and this will impact the inflow of patients coming in for advanced treatment. Dubai Healthcare City has been set up with this purpose of bringing in advanced and specialized healthcare such as transplants, cancer treatment,and tertiary care, not easily available in the Middle East. But it is only a matter of time and things will look up. It will take a couple of years but the blueprint is there, only the plans have been slightly deferred. We will carve our niche in the medical tourism business. We might never be as cheap as India and might not be able to attract people from the US or UK for major procedures, but our major playing field will be the rest of the Middle East and North Africa.“



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