Healthcare demand in GCC to rise by 240 per cent in next 20 years

DUBAI - Experts have predicted a 240 per cent rise in demand for healthcare in general in the AGCC region over the next 20 years.

By Staff Reporter

Published: Mon 23 Jun 2008, 7:15 PM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 6:35 PM

According to Dr Ioan Cleaton Jones, who was speaking at the GE Healthcare Middle East Media Summit held recently in Dubai: "The health risk factors including ageing, population growth and medical inflation are contributing to the rise in spending.

"In response to this spending increase, the total number of hospital beds is projected to rise from 68,250 in 2006 to 114,450 by 2015 and 161,750 by 2025, according to management consultancy firm McKinsey & Co which recently modelled disease trends in the six Gulf Cooperation Council countries and projected these figures.

Dr Jones is a senior health specialist in the Health and Education Department of the International Finance Corporation (IFC) based in Washington, DC.

Addressing the media summit's discussion on 'Healthcare in the Middle East: Challenges and Opportunities Ñ Rising Demand for Healthcare', Dr Jones said, "High-income countries such as the UAE, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia spend only 2.2 to 3.4 per cent on healthcare. These spending levels will continue to rise as populations grow, people live longer, experience fewer infectious diseases and get more chronic diseases of old age and affluence such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer."

Several countries in the Middle East and North African region are exhibiting strong economic growth. While high-income examples such as the UAE, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia are well-known, middle-income countries such as Oman, Jordan, Egypt, and Tunisia are also growing fast with annual economic growth of 5-7 per cent.

Dr Jones added: "While high oil prices are a big reason for capital flows into the region, several countries are making far-reaching economic reforms to improve their business climates and attract investors, thereby driving more sustainable economic growth in the region."

At this year's media summit, over 40 delegates comprising leading medical experts and media representatives joined GE Healthcare to also discuss the evolving practice of medicine and patient care from treating symptomatic 'late-stage' disease to a focus on earlier pre-symptomatic disease detection and earlier, more effective treatment options.

Richard di Benedetto, GE Healthcare International president and CEO, Eastern and Africa Growth Markets (EAGM), delivered the keynote address focusing on the company's vision for the future of healthcare delivery.

This year's summit was aimed at addressing the challenges and emerging trends as well as help raise awareness about the 'Early Health' model of care as it relates to the management of breast cancer and other disease trends impacting the Middle East region, such as the increased incidence of cardiac disease.

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