DELOITTE: INCREASING HEALTH CARE SPENDING IN GCC COUNTRIES

-Deloitte: Saudi Arabia spends 4.3% of GDP on health care

-Deloitte: Health care delivery in the Middle East is dominated by the public sector

According to Deloitte’s new report, “Global health care outlook: Shared challenges, shared opportunities”, a growing and aging population coupled with  increasing total health care expenditures per capita, are boosting  health care industry growth in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) — specifically  in Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). However, continued pressures on cost, lack of access to medical care, and market conditions will present serious health care industry challenges in 2014. Additionally, the sector will need to engage public and private organizations on the health care value chain to deliver innovative solutions to address local needs if it wants to succeed in addressing emerging market growth and the world’s aging population challenges in the coming years.

The Deloitte report examines the current state of the global and regional health care sector, and provides a snapshot of activity in a number of geographic markets, including Saudi Arabia. The report further suggests considerations for stakeholders as they address funding, cost, and other issues while seeking to grow revenue and market share in 2014 and beyond.

The GCC’s population is expected to increase by five percent year-on-year, driven mainly by the influx of expatriates. While the dominant age group is estimated to be 30-44 year olds, the 45-65 and 65+ age groups are expected to grow cumulatively by an average of four to five percent between 2011 and 2020. Among other favourable trends in the region are continually improving health care standards; governments’ increasing investments in technological advancements and health awareness; the growth of smaller health care clinics and ambulatory centers; and a strong medical tourism industry.

“Saudi Arabia provides a snapshot of GCC health care challenges and opportunities. Its spending of 4.3 percent of GDP is less than half of the OECD average. However, health care provision in Saudi Arabia is uneven. It is concentrated in urban centers and some desert communities do not have regular and reliable access to good-quality health care,” explains Dr Hassib Jaber, consulting partner and health care and life sciences leader at Deloitte Middle East. “The government is trying to address this imbalance and has identified investment in health care infrastructure as a priority.”

Moreover, health care delivery in the Middle East is dominated by the public sector. A key challenge facing the region’s governments is to provide a framework that enables the private sector to participate more fully in the health care system and supplement state systems that are heavily dependent on fluctuating oil revenues.

“Increased private sector participation should help the region achieve its overall goal to improve access and quality; however, creating such a framework is likely to require policy changes, industry restructuring, and new incentives. Adding complexity, the Middle East has a significant shortage of local health care talent, as numbers indicate the dominance of expat communities in both the nursing and physician professions,” concludes Jaber.

To read the “Global health care outlook: Shared challenges, shared opportunities” report, go to: http://bit.ly/N6FPOY

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