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Ageing population will heavily impact MENA’s healthcare services, report finds

JLL has recently released a report highlighting how MENA’s healthcare industry continues to be under significant strain, with a lower number of resource...

Catherine Sturman
|Sep 18|magazine8 min read

JLL has recently released a report highlighting how MENA’s healthcare industry continues to be under significant strain, with a lower number of resources and specialist medical staff. Named ‘Healthy Returns,’ it notes that under 30% of all physicians in Saudi Arabia are Saudi nationals, highlighting a continual shortage of medically trained staff.

This will be of no surprise to many. The region’s healthcare services are behind more developed countries such as the UK and US, particularly in terms of per capita spending on healthcare, for example. However, the region’s population continues to grow rapidly, highlighting the need for the region to transform its services.

By 2020, it has been predicted that approximately 26 million people will be over 65 in the region, compared to current levels of 21 million, further impacting current healthcare provisions. Additionally, the region’s high levels of obesity and increased number of diabetic patients has seen a sharp demand for workers specialising in these areas, in order to tackle the growing demand.

The region’s ongoing concerns surrounding the provision of its healthcare services has therefore seen a push towards digitisation, the construction of new facilities, professional talent, and potential investors.

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Whilst tech companies are leveraging new products to sell to the market in order to provide further revenue, investors are looking to health projects or products with long-term potential, with a strong focus on ROI.

To also alleviate increased price pressures for the government, the private healthcare sector is  playing a large part in such developments through the use of Public Private Partnerships (PPPs).

However, with regards to the provision of healthcare services and high disposal incomes, citizens in the region have high expectations surrounding the delivery of healthcare. Consequently, Mandatory Health Insurance is being rolled out steadily, creating increased competition within private and public healthcare.

Other drivers

Healthcare is becoming a stable, growing industry within MENA, and there has been significant focus in the growth of Medical Cities, such as Sharjah Healthcare City. These projects will attract professional talent, ensure the development of best practices by investing in research and development, and will guarantee long-term economic growth.

Medical tourism is also a vital financial driver in the region. The report adds that citizens are willing to travel to another area for treatment, and notes that over 30,000 Emiratis travel abroad for medical treatment each year, spending on average of $250,000 per visit.