Dubai is on track to attract more than 500,000 medical tourists by 2020 after attracting over 326,000 patients in 2016, according to a top health official.

International health tourists generated AED1 billion in 2016, said Humaid Al Qutami, chairman and director-general of the Dubai Health Authority.

Speaking ahead of the first Dubai International Medical Tourism Forum, she said the DHA is making "significant progress" by upgrading medical services and providing a "healing environment".

Al Qutami said: "In line with the vision of our leaders, the DHA is working towards developing a robust medical tourism sector in Dubai. In 2016, Dubai witnessed an overall growth of 9-10 percent in the number of medical and health tourists in Dubai.

"The emirate received 326,649 international medical tourists. Revenue generated from international patients was worth over AED1 billion, reinforcing the growing contribution of the sector to the national GDP. Dubai’s attractive location along with the availability of high-quality medical professionals and technology has enabled the city to build a strong and favorable platform to build its medical tourism capabilities.

"We are constantly working on developing this sector keeping in mind patient's safety, high-quality health services and excellent patient experience."

Dubai’s strategy for health tourism includes a charter of patient's rights and responsibilities with which medical tourists can understand their rights before arriving in Dubai for healthcare.

Additionally, DHA has created a medical complaints procedure for anyone with a medical related complain about health facilities in Dubai. The process has been designed to address issues based on the level of severity, and provide families with a clean timetable for resolution.

The Dubai International Medical Tourism Forum will be held on February 20-21.

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