A GCC Healthcare Report by Kuwait Financial Centre (Markaz) highlights that healthcare expenditures in the region are expected to surge to USD 79 billion in 2015.
Currently, five major healthcare projects are under completion in the six Gulf countries. Public health expenditure spending is expected to equal about 64 percent of total spending on healthcare projects. During the past decade, health expenditure per capita in the GCC has grown at an annualized rate of 7.9 percent. While Kuwait’s health expenditure per capita grew at 10.8 percent per annum, Qatar’s health expenditure per capita was the highest in absolute terms. A separate report forecasts that the GCC healthcare industry would continue to grow at a CAGR (combined annual growth rate) of 12.3 percent in 2015 to USD 25.7 billion.
Explosive growth in the GCC countries, increase in GDP, changes in the disease profile of patients and an improvement in life expectancy would drive investment in the healthcare sector. Between 2000 and 2009, GDP per capita in the GCC has grown at a CAGR of six percent. The UAE has the highest Adolescent Fertility Rate (AFR) of 24.7 in the GCC, which is lower than that of UK (30), U.S. (33), Egypt (43) and (79) for India. The life expectancy in Saudi Arabia has also increased from 44.9 years in 1960 to 73.6 years in 2009 nearing the life expectancy numbers of the U.S. and other developed countries. At the same time, the number of hospital beds in Saudi Arabia is expected to expand at a CAGR of 2.0 percent to 63,930 in 2015 as health care spending there continues to ramp upward.
The rising demand for healthcare services in the region has forced governments to implement policies to build infrastructure and invite private companies into the sector. However, steep medical inflation is likely to make government participation in the sector unsustainable and requires greater private sector investment in the GCC. Regional governments also realize the need to promote Public Private Partnerships because of a high prevalence of lifestyle diseases, lack of adequate infrastructure and trained workforce in the healthcare sector.