Large strides were made in healthcare reform in 2012. In Abu Dhabi, free screening for congenital heart disease was introduced in January for newborns, meaning every baby is now tested using a pulse oximeter.
More than 18,000 babies were screened and nine were saved in the first quarter of the year.
Increased screening coupled with improved data collection led to a drop in the number of babies that died in the emirate.
Dubai and Abu Dhabi have also unified their licenses, making it easier for healthcare professionals to move between the two emirates.
The Ministry of Health, which regulates health care in the Northern Emirates and some federal hospitals in Dubai, hopes to follow suit early next year.
This unification not only provides doctors with more flexibility, but also helps standardise the quality of care across the UAE.
Major challenges in the industry remain though, including staffing, access to preventative care and the need for intensive care units.
Figures from the Health Authority – Abu Dhabi show severe shortages in emergency care, neonatal care, cardiology and critical and intensive care.
However, the authority is addressing this with plans to increase the number of doctors in the emirate by more than 40 per cent in the next five years.