United Arab Emirates: Recent Development In Abu Dhabi Healthcare Sector

Last Updated: 21 December 2018
Article by STA Law Firm
Most Read Contributor in United Arab Emirates, September 2019

"It is health that is real wealth"- Mahatma Gandhi


Over the past decades, the UAE health sector has witnessed a dramatic change along with impressive growth. UAE has a federal government which oversees the entire country's health sector. The government also finances almost all the non-private healthcare organizations and institutions. One of the highest level strategic plans of UAE Government is Vision 2021 which mainly plans to achieve the "world-class healthcare". The government is planning to do it by accrediting all the government and non-governmental hospitals, clinics and other healthcare organizations following the various international standards. The main focus of the UAE government and the other Emirati states to develop the modern healthcare infrastructure to ensure that adequate services and facilities are made available in the Emirates.

In UAE healthcare is regulated at both the federal and emirates level. At the Emirates level, there are multiple health regulatory authority to administer the various health service in the Emirates level.

It is possible to divide the entire health care sector of the UAE into the following segments:

  1. The Ministry of Health of UAE
  2. Department of Health which (DHO) was previously known as Health Authority Abu Dhabi (HAAD).
  3. Dubai Health Authority. (DHA)
  4. Dubai Health Care City Free Zone. (DHCC)

In keeping with a new vision of healthcare development, the Emirati state of Abu Dhabi has also developed its Emirate level strategic health care plans for the people and residents of Abu Dhabi. In the year 2014, a broad strategy and initiative were taken by Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces to improve the healthcare facilities in the Emirati state of Abu Dhabi. This strategy included 85 initiatives that mainly aims to promote the various facilities and quality of the healthcare system in Abu Dhabi.

Department of Health (DOH)

Each entity within the healthcare sector has their own set of policies, principles, and responsibilities like taking care of essential health care services, licensing the doctors and the nurses etc. The DOH is the regulatory body of the healthcare sector in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. This regulatory body shapes the regulatory framework in the healthcare sector in Abu Dhabi.

DOH which was previously known as HAAD (Health Authority Abu Dhabi) first arose through the Law Number 1 of (2007). As mentioned in the Article 1 (Clause 1 and 2) of the Law Number 1 (2007), the main purposes of DOH are to achieve the highest standards in health and medicinal services and health insurance and to follow-up and monitor the operations of the health sector to deliver an exemplary standard in provision of health and curative services and health insurance. To achieve its purpose, the establishing Law Number 1 of 2007 empowers the DOH in the following ways:

  1. DOH is authorized to apply the various laws, rules, regulations, and policies with a vision of developing the health sector in Abu Dhabi. (Article 5 Clause 2)
  2. DOH approves the various rulings and procedures regarded as being necessary for operating health and curative establishments in Abu Dhabi.
  3. DOH develops and applies the integrated systems to control the public and private health sector in the Emirates level. (Article 8 clause 12).

Polices and key Principles of DOH

DOH's policies refer to decisions, plans, and activities which are undertaken to achieve various healthcare goals. DOH policies mainly focus on to outline the priorities and the expected roles of different groups related to health.

Some of the critical principles of DOH are:

  1. DOH regulations have their bases in evidence. It is mentioned in Law Number 1 of (2007), that the DOH regulatory controls will be evidence-based as far as possible.
  2. DOH follows a seamless, coherent and transparent regulatory framework.
  3. DOH seeks to optimize resources and reduce administrative burdens.

Role of DOH

DOH has the prime responsibility of licensing and setting various standards of the healthcare professionals.

  1. DOH has to determine the Healthcare professionals who require a license.
  2. To establish the criteria for the practice within the law.
  3. DOH has the responsibility to take regulatory actions concerning healthcare service providers.
  4. DOH also sets out a framework for disciplinary action.

As per the Law Number 1 of (2007) the Healthcare service providers who obtain licenses will be the responsible party and ensure that they are competent to and how they act in the best interest of patients.

Roles of Healthcare Service Providers as per Law No.1 of (2007)

The roles are as follows:

  1. Healthcare professionals have to ensure that the  Healthcare Professionals employed by them hold a license issued by DOH,
  2. Healthcare professionals have to develop job descriptions for all staff employed at Healthcare Facilities operated by them,
  3. The healthcare professionals have to provide medical liability insurance and professional hazard insurance for Healthcare Professionals employed by them,
  4. Healthcare professionals have to co-operate with any audit carried out by DOH.

Licensing of Healthcare professionals in Emirates of Abu Dhabi

The DOH establishing law requires all that all the health care professionals to be licensed by DOH to practice in Abu Dhabi. To obtain a license, health professionals must meet the PQR requirements, the language requirements, the current national or similar foreign license requirement etc. Again there is the examination requirement that applies to all Healthcare Professionals other than those who are determined by DOH to be exempt from this. As such all the healthcare professionals have to pass the examination. DOH may reject an application for a license of a healthcare professional that has not to meet all the requirements. DOH also has the power to suspend and revoke the permissions of the healthcare professionals.

As per the DOH law, it requires that all the healthcare professionals have the duty to comply with the various policies and standards that apply to them. In general, healthcare professionals must respect the integrity of the patient. They should carry due regard for every patient and should not discriminate against any patient based on gender, race, religion, customs, economic status etc.

Other Health Sector Entities

As mentioned in the Law Number 1 of (2007), the government health sector entities include Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (SEHA) incorporate under the Emiri Decree Number (10) of 2007 and the National Health Insurance Company (DAMAN) consolidated through the Emiri Decree Number (39) 0f 2005.

SEHA: (Abu Dhabi Health Service Company)

SEHA, an independent and public joint stock company that mainly operates in all the public hospitals and health organizations in Abu Dhabi. Emiri Decree Number 10 of 2007 established the company. SEHA is a leading participant in Abu Dhabi's health sector. The company seeks various kinds of reforms to upgrade and improve the healthcare service of Abu Dhabi. For the last two decades, SEHA is promoting different types of healthcare excellence for the people of Abu Dhabi, and it is achieving goals with a competitive advantage. SEHA assume the responsibility for public health care centers and hospitals. SEHA has entered into many partnerships with the international healthcare institutions with a view of identifying the best global practices.

Abu Dhabi Occupational Safety and Health System Framework

This code applies to all the employers within the Emirates of Abu Dhabi for the provisions of medical emergency and first aid treatment to employees, workers and the other persons. As per this framework, any medical professionals providing services beyond the first aid should have a license to practice medicine as required by the Department of Health of Abu Dhabi. The framework mentions various kinds of training requirements for the first aiders in Abu Dhabi; for instance, all the trainers should have the valid training certificate from the recognized training providers.


In today's world more and more innovations are put into practice in the healthcare system. People are witnessing more and more transformation in healthcare. Because of this enormous transformation, we need a balanced regulatory system which can provide us with a quality health service. The regulations should be flexible and protective against risky practices.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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