United Arab Emirates: In Better Health

Recent legislative changes in Dubai have been put in place to change the scope and way in which health is regulated, products are licensed and priced and the health care insurance schemes in the Emirate are run. Michael Kortbawi, Partner and Raghad Hammad, Senior Associate at BSA Ahmad Bin Hezeem & Associates LLP examine the impact of these changes.

WHAT'S HAPPENED?

"Dubai Law No. 6/2018 on the Dubai Health Authority has recently been approved," Michael Kortbawi explains.

"The aim of this law is to ensure all Dubai residents have access to premium healthcare and ensure standards of health and medical services provided to the community. It will replace Dubai Law No. 13/2007 which established the Health Authority and is expected to come into effect on its issued date." "One key point is that this Law will not prejudice the functions and competencies of the Dubai Healthcare City Authority under Dubai Law No. 9/2011. However, it is not the only recent Dubai health law, as Dubai Decree No. 17/2018 which covers the establishment of two new subsidiaries of the Dubai Health Authority, the Dubai Healthcare Corporation and Dubai Health Insurance Corporation has also been issued," Raghad Hammad adds.

"The CEOs of Dubai Healthcare Corporation and Dubai Health Insurance Corporation will be appointed by an Executive Council Decision following a recommendation from the Health Authority's Director- General."

"These subsidiaries will support the efforts to enhance healthcare services in the Emirate and enable the Health Authority to fulfil its responsibilities and obligations. In addition, Dubai Decree No. 18/2018 has been issued appointing Humaid Mohammed Al Qutami as the Director-General of the Dubai Health Authority. Both Decrees will come into effect on their issued date."

HEALTHCARE CORPORATION

"Under Dubai Decree No. 17/2018, the Dubai Healthcare Corporation will be responsible for operating and managing public health facilities in the Emirate, including primary healthcare centres, specialist centres, medical fitness services centres and public and occupational medical centres," Kortbawi notes. "The new Corporation will also be responsible for managing, operating and developing the units which are attached to these facilities, either directly or through a third party. In addition they will be responsible for developing and implementing strategies designed to enhance medical services in line with the Dubai and the Authority's strategic plans."

"The Healthcare Corporation will be responsible for fully integrating medical services, but also ensuring Dubai's medical facilities are able to qualify for international accreditation," Kortbawi adds. "They will also conduct surveys and studies for new healthcare facilities and medical services, draft policies and procedures for public health management and submit these to the Authority for approval."

"In addition they will have responsibility for managing preventive healthcare measures and conducting the research required to enhance general public health in the Emirate. They will also recruit qualified medical and administrative personnel, organise and participate in medical conferences and events and work with other Government departments to achieve the Authority's objectives."

"Finally, and probably most importantly for those involved in provision of medical services and pharmaceutical products, they will be responsible for proposing prices for these services at medical facilities which they manage, procuring medicines and medical resources for these facilities, providing preventive medical and medical fitness services and managing, operating or developing any other medical facilities assigned to the Dubai Government."

INSURANCE CORPORATION

"The other new body, the Dubai Health Insurance Corporation will be responsible for managing and overseeing health insurance services in Dubai," Hammad explains. "It will aim to ensure quality health insurance is provided for the Emirate's citizens, residents and visitors and protect the rights of policyholders."

"This body will also be responsible for designing health insurance packages and will also license and regulate health insurance companies, claims management companies, insurance brokers and service providers," Hammad notes.

"In addition, they will manage the Dubai Government's health insurance programme and issue reports and recommendations on health insurance and health economics."

WHY?

"The aim of these legislative changes has been to improve regulation of the healthcare sector in Dubai, but also to increase competitiveness, operational efficiency, transparency, and service and product quality," Hammad explains. "It is also hoped these changes will make it easier to upgrade health care services and products, treatments, prevention and medicines in line with the approved strategic plans and international best practices."

RELATED LEGISLATION

Article 5 of Dubai Law No. 9/2011 The Healthcare City will promote the Emirate as an international medical and healthcare centre, contribute to upgrade the quality of medical services locally, regionally and internationally in line with international levels, provide specialist health care locally and regionally and encourage medical education and specialist medical research centres.

(Source: Lexis Middle East Law)

WHAT DOES THE LAW DO?

"Under the new Law, the Health Authority will work to provide health insurance programmes for citizens, residents and visitors. It will also strengthen Dubai's position as a global medical hub and destination for medical tourism, medical education, professional development and specialist research," Kortbawi notes. "The Health Authority's functions include preparing comprehensive strategic plans for the health sector in Dubai and supervising their implementation. The Authority will also be expected to conduct studies and research on the Emirate's need for health and medical services and work in order to maximise the impact of investment projects in this sector. The Health Authority will regulate and approve health service prices provided by private health facilities in Dubai and issue decisions on pricing of health services provided by the Authority and its affiliated institutions together with the Finance Department," Kortbawi adds. "To ensure appropriate health services are provided to all segments in society at affordable prices an integrated health information system will be established in line with international health and medical standards and with the cooperation of the private sector. Going forward the Authority will also be able to propose draft legislation governing the healthcare sector and submit recommendations for updating and developing legislation to the relevant authorities. In addition, the Authority and its affiliated institutions will with their approved regulations, be able to authorise third parties to provide certain administrative services related to medical fitness and occupational health."

HEALTH TOURISM AND INSURANCE

"This new Law, also gives the Authority the right to regulate and manage health tourism in the Emirate, along with the relvant authorities and handle the preparation, management, development and implementation of health insurance policies," Kortbawi adds. "They will supervise and inspect establishments which are engaged in any activities related to health insurance in Dubai. They will also be involved in the inspection and approval of the content of health advertisements in the media in the Emirate."

WHAT'S CHANGED?

"There are some major changes in this new legislation," Kortbawi notes. "For example, under the old law, Dubai Law No. 13/2007 the Authority was responsible for authorising and licensing individuals and Government and private entities which were engaged in the medical profession in mainland Dubai only. However, under the new Law, the Authority's remit has been expanded to include the licensing of individuals and establishments operating in special development zones and free zones, except those operating under the Dubai Healthcare City Authority. Previously when it came to free zones, the Authority's remit was limited to the general supervision of all health services providers operating in those zones," Kortbawi adds.

"However they will now also be respnsible for inspecting health facilities and professionals working in in special development areas and free zones, like the DIFC. In addition, the Authority will administer the provision of medical education services, conduct medical research and experiments and prepare and develop policies and regulations related to the health sector."

"These will include new health insurance systems and public health and preventive medicine services. The Authority will also be responible for developing and setting requirements for both practising individuals and establishments, and health sector investments," Kortbawi concludes.

RELATED STORY

Dubai: Surgical Filming to be Banned

LNB News 09/05/2018 30 Dubai's Health Authority has issued a Circular banning all surgical filming in health care facilities in the Emirate. The Director of Health Regulation at the Health Authority, said the Circular has been issued following an increase in people who aren't allowed to be in theatres filming surgery to air live on social media channels. These activities can affect health professionals' concentration during surgery and violate infection control laws.

Anyone who violates the Circular will be guilty of violating a patient's privacy and even if the patient has given permission they will not be able to do this.

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