How important is innovation in healthcare for the UAE?

AMIN AL AMIRI: Innovation is part of our life now. It's a part of our routine work. Always, we should look forward for innovation. For instance, as per responsibilities in the health and pharmaceutical industry, we had huge number of innovations in the health sector. We have many projects that are coming up.

We were the first country to support the international pharmaceutical companies submitting their dossiers of their files for drug registration before FDA or EMEA approval for 12 months. That's a new innovation that's supported the availability of the most innovative drugs to the community.

We were always the second or the third country which are registering the most innovative drugs approved by FDA worldwide. We had many initiatives.

We were the first country in the region in which we released six initiatives to reduce the price of the drugs. We are now one of the lowest priced for innovated drugs available in United Arab Emirates to help the Emirates community, especially the people in which they don't have the health insurance scheme or health insurance program. There are many programs and there are many new initiatives that are coming up.

Therefore, as I told you innovation is a part of our life, part of our routine life. Now we have some new initiatives which will be implemented soon to support our local pharmaceutical factories. We had new initiatives to have a joint venture between the local factories and the international pharmaceutical factories to produce the innovative medicine in the Emirates.

Five MoUs were signed and there are three in the pipeline. And this will lead the Emirates to be one of the leading countries to have the most attractive regulations to produce the innovative medicine in United Arab Emirates for the region, not only for our country.

So far, we had 14 pharmaceutical factories by end of 2015. In 2016, it will reach 16. In the pipeline there are 18 under the process, which means by 2020 we will be having 34 pharmaceutical factories and this is a great number.

If you compare it with number of population, the size of the Emirates, we will be number 1, above the MENA region, above the Middle East and Northern Africa. And really innovation, as I said, is part of our routine life now.

What is the overall vision for healthcare in the UAE?

AMIN AL AMIRI: Our vision aligns with the vision of our visionary government. Our vision is to have the most attractive health services in the world, the most attractive medical tourism program, and the most attractive international hospitals, which are running their hospitals in their own country, to be based here in the Emirates. We can give an example like Cleveland Clinic, Seoul National University Hospital, Johns Hopkins, and the others.

Our vision is that we will be able to keep our community the happiest community worldwide. I'll give you a small example. We were the second country to introduce the medicines to support the patients with Hepatitis C virus. Just imagine if you have a child, 10 years old, who is infected with Hepatitis C virus and you are in a country in which you don't have access to the most innovative medicine unless four years later after the approval of FDA. Here, that single child has access to that medication in which the cure is 97%, just the second country in the world almost a month after the FDA approval. See the happiness of that single child, the happiness of his parents, and the happiness of their family members. That was one of the examples.

The other example was, the patient with MS, we were the second country to introduce the tablets rather than to take injections for the MS patients. Trulicity, one of the other medicines for the diabetic patients, the patient used to take one injection per day, now the patient is eligible to take one injection per week. The rest of the process is that the patients that don't need to go abroad for their treatment, they can just take their treatment here at Cleveland Clinic or Seoul National University Hospital.

The Emirati and non-Emirati patients have access to most advanced technologies and hospitals and the most experienced health professionals, and therefore the happiness of the communities is our vision of our future and this will be happening with the improvement in the health services and pharmaceutical industry. Our regulations would support the international medical and pharmaceutical companies and the hospitals to join us in this beautiful country, the United Arab Emirates.