Emeka Obiora on Health Care Compliance in the United Arab Emirates [Podcast]


By Adam Turteltaub

Healthcare and healthcare compliance are often thought to be very country specific, due to the many variations of healthcare structures. To learn more about how healthcare compliance works in one country outside of the US we spoke with Emeka Obiora, Vice President, Ethics and Compliance at NMC Healthcare in Abu Dhabi.

Emeka explains that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has something of a split system. Public sector hospitals primarily serve Emiratis, who are provided with healthcare by the government. Foreign workers in the UAE are required to carry insurance and typically see private providers.

As a result, the risk profile is very different. It is there, though, with several key ones to manage.

The first is licensing. The UAE relies upon medical professionals who come from all over the world and have vastly different training and backgrounds. All must be qualified and licensed locally, which represents a substantial undertaking.

The second common risk area is conflicts of interest, which is focused on interactions with pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers. To ensure that there is undue influence, contact between clinicians and providers may be completely prohibited.

As is the case elsewhere in the world, privacy is also a significant concern, and in the UAE it has grown to be a greater challenge now that there is a new, tougher law.

So, is working in the UAE in healthcare right for you? Emeka recommends asking yourself if you have a sense of adventure. As importantly, ask the same about your family and what impact a move may have on them.

If you do decide to take the plunge and find a potential opportunity, assess it like you would any other compliance position. Look at the organization and its governance structure: Will you have access to the senior level of the organization?

Question carefully their approach to compliance and ethics. While it may likely not be as advanced as what you are used to in the US, if the tone and the commitment are there it’s worth considering, especially because there is a growing emphasis on accountability, corporate responsibility and ethics in the UAE. That portends well for the future.

Listen in to learn more, including one myth about the UAE that needs to be dispelled.