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Healthy rise in medical tourism to Abu Dhabi clinic

Medics monitor a hospital patient. Almost 33,000 surgeries and procedures were performed at the Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi in 2023 Pexels/Zakir Rushanly
Medics monitor a hospital patient. Almost 33,000 surgeries and procedures were performed at the Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi in 2023
  • 20% hike for Cleveland Clinic
  • CEO targets ‘significant jump’
  • Medical tourism rising fast

The number of overseas patients travelling to the UAE for treatment at the Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi rose by 20 percent in 2023, the hospital’s CEO has said.

Overseas visitors make up 1.5 percent of the patients treated each year at the Cleveland Clinic hospital on Al Maryah Island.

Its CEO, Dr Jorge Guzman, told AGBI he wanted to see “a significant jump” in international patients, reaching 5 percent of total patients “in the coming years”.

Analysts expect the UAE’s medical tourism sector to expand quickly. A 2023 report from TechSci Research forecast that its compound annual growth rate would be almost 25 percent up to 2028, as the sector rises from a valuation of $100 million in 2022.

The hospital, a joint venture between the US Cleveland Clinic Foundation and Mubadala healthcare company M42, had almost 787,000 outpatient visits in 2023, up 12 percent on the previous year.

UAE-wide statistics for medical tourism are not available but about 674,000 people visited Dubai for medical treatment in 2022, up from 630,000 the previous year.

Most of the international patients at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi come from other GCC states, Dr Guzman said, although the numbers arriving from Pakistan and Africa have increased over the past 12 months.

“People from different countries come for different reasons,” he added.

Last year almost 33,000 surgeries and surgical procedures were completed at the hospital, including 192 organ transplants – and many of its Kuwaiti patients were admitted for these, according to Dr Guzman.

By contrast, patients from Saudi Arabia tended to come for ophthalmology or cardiology services.

Dubai and Abu Dhabi both run online portals for medical tourism. These allow visitors to reserve medical procedures and access discounted air fares, visas, accommodation and medical insurance.

Visitors are attracted by the UAE’s tourism infrastructure as well as the low cost of surgeries, according to KPMG. It said the cost of a hip replacement in 2020 was $26,000 in the US and $19,700 in Switzerland, but less than $15,000 in the Emirates.

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