18 August 2020

Growth opportunities

Lifestyle diseases, medical tourism, and the need for specialised care are some of the key challenges in MENAT. Which sub-sectors offer the greatest promise in region?

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MENAT states have unmet demand for specialised care in fields such as paediatrics and obstetrics. Other specialties are also running to catch up: Dubai alone will need an extra 241 orthopaedics and rheumatology beds by 2030, and a similar number in respiratory medicine, according to analysts.

Rapid economic growth, sedentary lifestyles and unhealthy diets have contributed to soaring rates of obesity, hypertension, ischemic heart disease and other conditions. Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait and Qatar all feature in the top 20 countries for diabetes prevalence worldwide. Governments are starting to focus on prevention measures, but providers will be treating the consequences of ‘lifestyle diseases’ for many years to come.

The market for medical tourism will continue to grow, with particular impacts in fields such as dentistry, orthopaedics, cosmetic surgery and fertility treatments. Dubai is on track to achieve its goal of attracting 500,000 health tourists a year by 20211.

MENAT’s use of generic drugs currently lags far behind that in western countries. Generic drugs dominate the pharmaceutical market volumes in the Western world, whereas their market share particularly in GCC is significantly lower. This is a gap that the region’s pharma manufacturers will be keen to exploit.

Finally, we are likely to see significant growth in areas such as mental health as a result of changes to behaviour, lifestyle and stress. Meeting these evolving demands could mean developing healthcare experiences that focus on overall wellness of mind and body rather than a purely treatment-based approach.

“Over the next two to three years, we need more centres of excellence in tertiary care; rehabilitation, physical therapy and long-term care; chronic disease management; mental health; and ambulatory care. Looking longer term, focus areas for investment include prevention, precision medicine and genetics, and population health management.” – Dr. Ibtesam AlBastaki, DHA

“Primary and secondary healthcare in Egypt are very much centralised in Cairo and in the large urban centres, so the geographical distribution across Egypt is not optimal. They have good medical schools and no shortage of physicians, but the skills and technology require innovation, so there is a lot of opportunity.” – Magda Habib, Dawi Clinics

“Pharma production in the GCC presently amounts to only about 25% of the total requirement, and there is very little research done here. As drugs come out of patency, there is huge potential for the manufacturing sector in the Middle East.” – M V Suresh, NPI

“The primary healthcare system is not fully developed or embedded. Patients in the GCC go to specialists for even the basic level of care, which puts a lot of strain on the healthcare infrastructure. Abu Dhabi has started to manage this very recently, but the wider region has yet to adopt a primary care system.” – Shehzad Jamal, Knight Frank

“Instead of just providing acute care, governments are now looking at preventive care – for example, in Saudi new housing schemes need to have access to jogging tracks or swimming pools. If you’re able to control lifestyle diseases, you can control future expenditure.” – Mansoor Ahmed, Colliers International

Healthcare

HSBC is here to help you navigate the unique ecosystem of healthcare in MENAT

Collaborating for change

As MENAT governments step back from healthcare provision, businesses are taking on new responsibilities.

Transformation under way

The region’s thirst for new technologies gives it an edge in healthcare, but it is essential that new ideas are validated before being integrated.

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