Skip to content Skip to Search
Skip navigation

Training and tech to tackle healthcare staff shortage

The UAE's density of healthcare staff is higher than the rest of the GCC but still below global benchmarks Pexels/Павел Сорокин:
The UAE's density of healthcare staff is higher than the rest of the GCC but still below global benchmarks
  • Lack of UAE doctors and nurses
  • Physician density higher than GCC
  • Call for more medical colleges

Technology and training combined can aid the impending recruitment crisis in UAE healthcare, experts say.

Globally there will be an estimated shortfall of 10 million workers in the industry by 2030, primarily in low and middle income countries, according to the World Economic Forum.

The UAE has not been spared. Research from Colliers showed there will be a gap of 15,000 nurses and allied health professionals in Abu Dhabi by the end of this decade, and a shortage of 6,000 physicians and 11,000 nurses in Dubai.

The physician and nurse density in the UAE is at 2.9 and 6.4 per 1,000 population respectively, which is higher than the GCC average. However, it is significantly lower than international benchmarks with developed healthcare systems. 

“Also, there is an imbalance in the distribution of doctors and nurses within the UAE, with Abu Dhabi having the highest ratio of doctors and nurses to population,” said Mansoor Ahmed, executive director for healthcare at Colliers in the Mena region.

Aster DM Healthcare, which is based in the UAE and listed in Mumbai, runs 34 hospitals, 131 clinics and 502 pharmacies in India and across the Gulf. Dr Azad Moopen, founder and chairman of the group, admitted that sourcing from traditional markets such as India and the Philippines had become “difficult” as a result of the shortage of medical professionals in those countries.

“Getting healthcare professionals is going to be a big challenge as we go forward,” he said.

He called for the creation of more medical colleges and institutions across the country “so that there will be ready availability of doctors, nurses and paramedics” in the UAE”.

Dr Jorge Guzman, CEO of Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, said the hospital, which has 5,200 staff, has a turnover rate of 10 percent, below the 19 percent average global benchmark.

“Retention is always going to be a priority,” he said.

Workforce shortages and funding pressures are pushing many institutions to decrease costs and increase productivity, with many turning to technology for help.

According to a 2021 survey of 200 healthcare leaders from around the world by KPMG, 38 percent said their organisation had used AI to engage with or treat patients.

A further 47 percent said they had used remote monitoring, 40 percent wearables and 35 percent embedded biometric monitoring.

“We firmly believe technology is not going to take over the jobs and we’re not going to replace this (shortage in numbers) – we’re going to aid it,” said Vivek Kanade, head of business and operations in the Middle East and Africa for Siemens Healthineers.

Akram Bouchenaki, CEO of Saudi company Abdul Latif Jameel Health, said tech could help “bridge the gap”, but not completely. “We still want to see a psychologist – robots will not be able to take care of depression,” he added.

Latest articles

Groupshot, Person, People

Aramco invests $6bn to bolster local supply chain

Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest oil producer, has signed 40 corporate procurement agreements worth $6 billion to boost its localisation programme. The agreements cover supply of a range of products comprising strategic commodities, such as instrumentation, and electrical and drilling equipment. The move will strengthen Aramco’s domestic supply chain ecosystem, providing suppliers with long-term demand […]

Sabic said better conditions in its agriculture and automotive businesses are supporting its margins

Sabic reports loss of $747m as product prices tumble

Petrochemicals major Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (Sabic) reported a net loss of SAR2.8 billion ($747 million) in 2023, as average product sales fell by a fifth. The losses were also driven by the discontinuation of operations at Hadeed, its steel manufacturing subsidiary, which resulted in a loss of around SAR4 billion. In September 2023, Sabic […]

Masdar starts work on two UK battery storage projects

Masdar Arlington Energy, a subsidiary of UAE’s Masdar, has started construction on two battery energy storage system (BESS) projects in the UK. The Royle Barn Road plant in Rochdale and Welkin Road plant in Stockport will have a combined capacity of 55 MW and provide enough energy to power 25,700 homes.  Masdar acquired UK-based Arlington Energy in […]

Parkin controls more than 90 percent of Dubai's paid parking provision

Dubai parking operator IPO will fund EV expansion plans

Parkin, the Dubai government’s parking management company, plans to channel proceeds from its initial public offering into technological upgrades, including expansion of its electric vehicle services.  The company will release nearly 25 percent of its shares on the Dubai Financial Market next month.  The offering begins on March 5, with a price range to be […]