UK, Indian diagnostic kit makers look to market in the UAE

Leading diagnostics kit makers have set their sights on the UAE as mandatory healthcare insurance increasingly covers their costs.

Great Ormond Street Hospital (Gosh), the UK’s best-known children’s hospital, plans to market its new prenatal diagnostic tests, said Trevor Clarke, a director at Gosh. It has an international patient support office in Dubai since 2005.

It is in talks with two hospitals, one each in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

The tests cost between £500 (Dh2,609) and £2,000, which can be used to find out the gender of the foetus as early as seven weeks and for postnatal blood tests for children. Some of the tests for pregnant women to detect some rare conditions can be conducted as early as 10 weeks and could do away with more invasive procedures such as amniocentesis.

“Kuwait is our biggest referral market followed by the UAE and new services such as these would help attract new patients,” Mr Clarke said.

The UK hospital gets 2,000 patients a year from the Arabian Gulf region. It has 42 beds for international patients and plans to add 10 more in August. The public hospital has 350 beds for children in the UK.

Gosh is not the only entity looking to bring its diagnostics to the UAE.

Trivitron Healthcare, an Indian medical technology com­pany, is in talks with two major lab chains in the UAE to introduce its newborn screening test that can detect 50 genetic disorders, said G S K Velu, the founder and managing director of Trivitron. The kits will be provided by its Finnish subsidiary, Labsystems Diagnostics, which was acquired in 2012 for €15.8 million (Dh62.8m).

In April, the New York-listed biotechnology company Thermo Fisher Scientific invested US$5m in Dubai Science Park free zone.

People are “expecting and asking for premium healthcare facilities to save them the expense of travelling overseas”, said Ahsan Ali, the head of business operations at the private equity firm Ashmore, which is one of the investors in the 100-bed King’s College Hospital (KCH) that expects to open in Dubai in 2018.

“The governments have been supporting their citizens and residents who travel overseas for health care at a high cost and practicalities for travel could be difficult for some.”

A KCH clinic opened in Abu Dhabi in 2014. Three other KCH clinics are expected to open in Dubai in the first quarter of next year.

Apart from paediatrics, gynaecology and obstetrics, it would also cover orthopaedics and endo­crinology.

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