Healthcare Research

Background information on Healthcare in the Middle East...

Growing population, mainly dominated by the expatriate community in most of the GCC countries, has given rise to the a rapidly growing market for healthcare and its associated industries, which is now touching $100bn mark in the Middle East alone.

Healthcare markets in the Gulf region are changing quickly. Due to the huge increase in the expatriate population, it is also one of the fastest growing regions with an estimated annual growth of 15%.

Saudi Arabia, as the richest regional market, has planned to increase the numbers of hospitals from 264 to over 500 in next 7 years.

UAE is also setting trends in providing best healthcare standards on public & private level not only for the growing population within the country but also for patients from across the region seeking the best medical facilities. The UAE healthcare market is projected to rise from $3.2bn in 2005 to $11.9bn in 2015.

The market in the Middle East countries, however, is heavily reliant on the fluctuating price of oil, which dictates the strength of the economy and, in turn, reflected in healthcare provision and the pharmaceutical market.

With demand for hospital beds in the region set to double by 2025, Arabian Gulf countries are rushing to meet the unprecedented challenge with a near $10 billion hospital building program, say industry experts.

The program - which does not include the budgets for required medical equipment - is led by Saudi Arabia with dozens of public and private sector hospital and clinic projects worth a total of around $6.5bn in progress, according to statistics compiled by database company Proleads.

"Arabian Gulf governments have been encouraging international institutions to set up health care facilities in the region but many more providers will be required to meet the huge future demand," said Simon Page, Director of Healthcare for IIR Middle East.

Qatar, with a substantially smaller number of health care facilities underway, comes second after Saudi Arabia in terms of hospital projects with a $1.5bn set aside.

The UAE has nine current hospital projects with a value of $596m.

Kuwait has four valued at $428m;

Bahrain one worth $130m.

The driving force is an unparalleled rise in regional demand for health care forecast for the next two decades. Consultants McKinsey & Co. recently estimated total health care spending in the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) countries will reach $60bn by 2025.

"No other region in the world faces such rapid growth in demand," McKinsey said, predicting the need for 162,000 more hospital beds with the biggest increases in Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

The challenges faced by government and private health care players will be in evidence at the Arab Health exhibition and congress which brings healthcare providers, manufacturers, dealers and distributors together with some of the most important and influential decision-makers in the region's health sector.

Products and services from more than 2300 exhibitors representing over 65 countries and more than 50,000 healthcare professionals from all over the world are expected at the 2008 event, breaking all past records.

The region faces three major driving factors which are dramatically increasing health care demand - population growth, an aging population and unique health risks.

"Total GCC population by 2025 is expected to be twice what it is today," said Page. "In addition, improvements in life expectancy mean more elderly people requiring care. For example, a sevenfold increase is forecast in those over 65 in Saudi Arabia during the next 25 years."

The region also has major and growing health risk factors among GCC nationals with the prevalence of Type 2 diabetes and obesity at unusually high levels relative to the rest of the world.

"Levels of diabetes have been put by the World Health Organisation at 25% of UAE citizens with the level of obesity for GCC nationals at 40%," Page added. "The health complications associated with both will have a dramatic impact in coming years."

This information was acquired from Arab Health which is supported by the UAE Ministry of Health; the Health Authority of Abu Dhabi; and Dubai Department of Health and Medical Services.



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