UAE sets a precedent for region’s longevity sector

March 30, 2022 / 12:30 PM
Sharjah24: The UAE is the second country after the US with the highest number of government and private hospitals accredited by either the Joint Commission International in the US, or Australian and Canadian accreditation bodies.
The UAE is also third after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and European Medicines Agency (EMA) in registering the most innovation drugs, expediting the process of providing innovative medicines and supporting medical tourism.

Similar to expenditure patterns across the GCC, the UAE government was the primary investor in healthcare within the country. In 2019, the government funded approximately 69% of the country’s total healthcare expenditure, amounting to USD 16 billion. From 2018 to 2022, however, private-sector healthcare spending is forecast to grow at 9.5% CAGR.

With the rising elderly population and the growing concern about old-age care, the UAE has set a precedent for the region’s longevity sector by embracing data & analytics, elevating the discourse on healthy aging and commencing the development of national longevity policies. These efforts are aimed at developing more senior care facilities and longevity clinics, as well as attracting cutting-edge technologies and investments into the sector.  

Longevity is an emerging field focused on healthy aging, comprising technologies and software that aim to improve health and lengthen the lifespan of people. The evolving sector is expected to be the largest and most sophisticated of all time. It sits at the intersection of several subsectors from BioTech and pharmaceuticals to FinTech and InsurTech, among many others. In 2020, the market size of the longevity sector in the UAE surpassed $19 billion, and it is projected to grow at a CAGR of 8.5% to reach $32 billion by 2026. 
Sharjah Research Technology and Innovation Park (SRTIP) and Deep Knowledge Analytics (DKA) have forged a first-of-a-kind strategic partnership aimed at mapping and developing the longevity sector in the UAE.

In collaboration with the UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention and the Department of Health in Abu Dhabi, SRTIP and DKA have recently organized a virtual conference to tackle some of the most pressing challenges facing the sector. The event also saw the launch of the Life Sciences in the UAE, which revealed that the number of hospitals in the UAE increased from 107 in 2013 to over 140 in 2019. In 2019, this comprised a total of approximately 14,000 hospital beds. 

The event addressed the expected shifts in public policy focus from youth to addressing the needs of the elderly, the healthcare impact of a growing aging population, the socio-economic impact of longevity, the development of a sustainable old-age care plan and national longevity policies, and the role of the private sector and investors.

Dr Amin Al Amiri, Undersecretary for the Health Regulation Sector at the UAE Ministry of Health, said: “The UAE remains a pioneer in providing healthcare services and pharmaceuticals. Stemming from our leadership’s vision, one of our main objectives as a nation is to invest in human health. The UAE healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors continue to lead regionally and globally thanks to the clear national and international quality standards of our medical services and staff.”

Dr Omar Najim, Director of Executive Office, Department of Health Abu Dhabi, commented: “Abu Dhabi and the UAE continue to pave the way globally in new adoption and implementation of healthcare technologies. This includes the full implementation of the first full health information exchange ‘Malafi’, through which Abu Dhabi has been using AI effectively for pandemic response and population health management.”
Hussain Al Mahmoudi, Chief Executive Officer of Sharjah Research Technology & Innovation Park, said: “We are committed to engaging with relevant stakeholders including the UAE government, the private sector, academia with the aim of developing the longevity industry and create new opportunities for our communities, while putting the health and wellbeing of our senior citizens and residents on top of our development agenda.”

Alexei Cresniov, Director of Deep Knowledge Analytics, said: “The UAE government remains committed to continuously strategizing and improving the quality of its healthcare system. National policies and local programs have been strengthening the country’s position as a hub for pharmaceuticals, medical research, development centres, and now longevity.”

Some 25 years ago when the life sciences industry emerged in the UAE, the main drivers of growth were the healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors. From the outset, the UAE has been leading the region’s life sciences domain, realizing its vision of achieving world-class healthcare infrastructure and services. 

The Dubai Industrial Strategy 2030 and the Abu Dhabi vision 2030, for instance, have prioritized the pharmaceutical industry as one of the main sectors to be developed due to its growth prospects, export potential and mid to long-term impact on the overall economy.

The UAE is also focusing on drawing international pharmaceutical companies to establish and expand their presence in the country. In addition to its growing domestic market, the UAE boasts a strategic location and sophisticated logistics infrastructure, especially with the approval of the Dubai Silk Road, which makes it an ideal hub to access growing regional markets in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. The UAE has also created several free zones that have become hubs for the pharmaceutical industry.

March 30, 2022 / 12:30 PM

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