Hopes pinned on new authority to revive health care city

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Monday, May 09, 2011

Gulf News

Dubai Doctors and investors at the flagship of medical tourism in the emirate, Dubai Health Care City, hoped the newly established Heath Care Authority would be able to deliver what the previous two managements of the city failed to achieve.

They said the situation was highly critical and unless the new authority moved quickly to correct failures, the project as a whole would become deserted.

They said red tape, poor communication with clients and high rents were the three main issues working against the popularity of the city.

Speaking to Gulf News, doctors said the City has failed to attract new clinics and international brands have pulled out due to high costs.

Mounting vacancies

“The building where I am located is 80 per cent empty,” said a doctor who did not wish to be named.

“There is at least a 30 per cent vacancy (across the health care city),” he added.

“This will be the third change in management,” said another doctor, who said he has had to sustain huge losses over the years as the management made it difficult for him to get any work done.

The massive 4.1 million square foot health care city known by its acronym, DHCC, was constructed in 2000 to meet the demand for high-quality health care and attract big names to Dubai.

Last year, the prestigious US-based Mayo Clinic closed down its practice at the venue. It did not say why, but doctors said the reason was because the clinic in the DHCC failed to pull in patients.

“Insurers believe consultation fee is high here and are reluctant to offer medical cover. We are dying for patients,” a doctor said, requesting anonymity.

Doctors and investors said clinics were also pulling out due to the high rents and maintenance fees. A psychologist said rents outside the DHCC were at least 50 per cent cheaper.

The pull-outs seem to have had a domino effect, as restaurants and pharmacies here have also downed their shutters, said the doctors.

The maintenance fee at the DHCC is Dh35 per square foot, while everywhere across the emirate it has gone down to around Dh20 per square foot, one investor said.

Lack of transparency

“There is lack of transparency, lack of trust and lack of communication,” said a doctor, who added that the big killer of business here was the red tape.

“The procedures make us waste so much time,” he added.

The economic downturn also had a part to play in the failure of the DHCC. A 400-bed University Hospital, which was to be the centrepiece of the City, has been put on hold.

Doctors and investors hoped the new Dubai Healthcare City Authority (DHCA) would put things back on track. A new law was issued last Wednesday by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE, and Ruler of Dubai, establishing the DHCA.

Under its new mandate, it is authorised to attract a whole spectrum of complementary industries ranging from drug manufacturers and research laboratories to pharmacies.

Princess Haya Bint Al Hussain, wife of Shaikh Mohammad, has been appointed as president of the DHCA, which has full financial and administrative autonomy to achieve its objectives.

By Mahmood Saberi?Senior Reporter

© Gulf News 2011. All rights reserved.