Gulf region hospital bed numbers way below global average

The region had, on average, 17 beds per 10,000 people, according the latest data from 2012. That fell short of the global average of 27 beds per 10,000 people, the report.

Powered by automated translation

Hospital bed penetration across the region still falls well short of the global average, despite a wave of healthcare investment.

According to Alpen Capital, which released its healthcare industry report yesterday, medical inflation – resulting from investments by hospitals in infrastructure, health technology and staff salaries was at 6.8 per cent – across the Arabian Gulf region in 2014. Alpen expected it to remain steady at that rate.

In the Gulf region, the UAE accounts for 26 per cent of total government healthcare spending. The per-capita healthcare spending in the UAE was at US$1,569 in 2013, the second highest in the region, after Qatar.

Medical inflation in the UAE was 2.3 per cent in 2014 and is forecast to touch 3.4 per cent by 2020.

“With the economy under stress, the Government has to promote healthcare infrastructure and to do that there has to be a heavy reliance on the private sector,” said Sanjay Vig, the managing director of Alpen Capital.

Alpen Capital expected healthcare spending in the UAE to touch $19.5 billion in 2020, up from $10.7bn last year.

The demand for hospital beds is expected to rise by almost 3 per cent each year to reach 13,800 beds by 2020. A growing population and the introduction of mandatory health coverage are fuelling much of the growth.

The region had, on average, 17 beds per 10,000 people, according the latest data from 2012. That fell short of the global average of 27 beds per 10,000 people, the report.

Increased investment in specialised care centres and day surgery centres are also on the cards, a senior Ministry of Health official told The National last week.

Mr Vig said: “The governments in the region have been funding a lot of their population on going overseas for advanced medical treatment because of a lack of facilities in the region.”

“Once they build the infrastructure here, they can treat them in their country, which would reduce the expenditure quite significantly.”

Speaking on the sidelines of Arab Health exhibition in Dubai last month, a DHA official told The National that ambulatory care, home care, long-term stay and day-surgery centres would be the focus of public-private partnerships.

ssahoo@thenational.ae

Follow The National's Business section on Twitter