UAE healthcare sector spend to double by 2022

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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The increasing number of hospitals and clinics across the UAE proves that the healthcare industry of the country is one of its fastest-expanding sectors even though the pandemic has made a significant impact.

According to the reports of KPMG, an international professional network service, healthcare-related expenditure in the Gulf region grew from $60 billion in 2013 to $76 billion in 2019 and is expected to grow up to $89 billion by 2022, which marks an overall increase of 50 percent from 2013 to 2022.

The report emphasizes the expansion of private investment in the country’s healthcare sector. Currently, the UAE government is the major investor in the industry and in 2019, it funded about $16 billion which is 69 percent of total expenditure. 

From 2018 to 2022, private-sector healthcare expenditure  is expected to increase at an annual growth rate of 9.5 percent, compared to a government contribution growth rate of 4.4 percent.

Dr. Azad Moopen
Dr. Azad Moopen, Founder Chairman & MD
Aster DM Healthcare

“With the UAE’s vision of a digital-first economy, we expect the healthcare sector in the UAE to see considerable expenditure in digital transformation, technology and AI- and IoT-based solutions. There is also an opportunity to start single-specialty specialized centers for attracting medical tourism to the country.”

According to the latest Medical Tourism Index Ranking, Dubai is at sixth and Abu Dhabi is at the eighth position in terms of leading global destinations for medical tourism and with visitors seeking treatment from major surgery to rehabilitation to cosmetic corrections the medical tourism in the UAE has a consistent growth, the report says.

Nitin Mehrotra, the partner for infrastructure, government and healthcare at KPMG, says that the local regulatory bodies have taken fast and effective measures to support the sector from the pandemic but the industry needs more well-planned approaches to lessen the impact on national well-being and standards of care.

A few of the important factors for increased private investments in the industry are demand for specialties, the rising support for public-private participation and increasing demand for treatment and basic facilities like beds for an aging population. 

In Dubai and Abu Dhabi, the privatization of hospitals and mandatory medical insurance will also encourage investments in a more unified health system.

Even though the healthcare infrastructure of the country is growing quickly, some specialties remain under-check including maternity, pediatrics, elderly care, fertility, one-stop primary care centers and diabetes. Considering the increasing percentage of lifestyle diseases in the UAE a neighborhood daycare center for initial diagnosis and treatment is relevant.

The chief strategic officer at Canadian Specialist Hospital, Gopinath S stated that, “The healthcare sector is adapting to the new normal post-COVID-19 as the pandemic has exposed the inadequacies in the public and private healthcare systems and brought even the  most developed countries to their knees.”