Summit Points Towards Looming Shortage Of Medical Professionals

BMI View: The governments of the Gulf Cooperation Council have responded to the region's growing demand for healthcare services by embarking on a large number of healthcare infrastructure projects. However, a crucial element to meeting demand, which has been overlooked, is the necessity for an adequate supply of human resources to deliver services, thereby meeting the rising demand. Two factors working to create a potential shortage in the region is the weak medical education, training and development of aspiring healthcare professionals and widespread nationalisation labour policies by various Gulf governments to reduce reliance on qualified expatriates.

At a conference in Dubai on December 10 2013, a number of representatives from 15 countries (the UAE, Jordan, Yemen, Tunisia, Algeria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Iraq, Egypt, Kuwait, Palestine, Libya, Oman and Somalia) discussed the advances and challenges in training and developing human resources in Arab countries' health sectors, according to Trade Arabia. Dr Ahmed bin Kalban, CEO of Primary Healthcare Sector at the Dubai Healthcare Authority, stressed the need to provide continuous medical education and promote an environment of training and education in the medical field.

Within the Middle East and North Africa region, we view the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) as the sub-region expected to experience the greatest increase in demand for medicines and healthcare services over the coming years. This demand is being driven by a number of factors, including increasing personal wealth, ageing populations and the adoption of more sedentary lifestyles. The result will be a heavier burden of non-communicable diseases and rising demand for chronic medicines and complex medical procedures. To meet this demand, the GCC is undergoing a healthcare infrastructure boom with the construction of large medical cities, hospitals and clinics, funded by both government and private investment. [1]

UAE At Highest Risk Of Shortage
Healthcare Professional Indicators For A Selection Of Middle East And North African Countries

Summit Points Towards Looming Shortage Of Medical Professionals

BMI View: The governments of the Gulf Cooperation Council have responded to the region's growing demand for healthcare services by embarking on a large number of healthcare infrastructure projects. However, a crucial element to meeting demand, which has been overlooked, is the necessity for an adequate supply of human resources to deliver services, thereby meeting the rising demand. Two factors working to create a potential shortage in the region is the weak medical education, training and development of aspiring healthcare professionals and widespread nationalisation labour policies by various Gulf governments to reduce reliance on qualified expatriates.

At a conference in Dubai on December 10 2013, a number of representatives from 15 countries (the UAE, Jordan, Yemen, Tunisia, Algeria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Iraq, Egypt, Kuwait, Palestine, Libya, Oman and Somalia) discussed the advances and challenges in training and developing human resources in Arab countries' health sectors, according to Trade Arabia. Dr Ahmed bin Kalban, CEO of Primary Healthcare Sector at the Dubai Healthcare Authority, stressed the need to provide continuous medical education and promote an environment of training and education in the medical field.

Within the Middle East and North Africa region, we view the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) as the sub-region expected to experience the greatest increase in demand for medicines and healthcare services over the coming years. This demand is being driven by a number of factors, including increasing personal wealth, ageing populations and the adoption of more sedentary lifestyles. The result will be a heavier burden of non-communicable diseases and rising demand for chronic medicines and complex medical procedures. To meet this demand, the GCC is undergoing a healthcare infrastructure boom with the construction of large medical cities, hospitals and clinics, funded by both government and private investment. [1]

The healthcare infrastructure boom and rapidly growing population will create a need for large numbers of medical professionals. BMI notes that there is a general lack of local medical talent in this sub-region, which has left governments with little choice but to encourage specialised foreign healthcare professionals to seek employment at facilities. However, throughout 2013 we have witnessed a number of initiatives by Gulf governments to nationalise their workforces by cracking down on the number of expatriate professionals. This, in addition to the weak education, training and development of aspiring local healthcare professionals will likely led to a severe shortage of doctors and nurses. This potential shortage is a risk to the demand for healthcare in the region not being met. [1]

The below chart illustrates a number of healthcare indicators for a selection of Middle Eastern countries in 2012. This includes the number of physicians per '000 people, number of nurses per '000 people and healthcare spending per capita. Of the selected countries, Israel, Qatar and the UAE boast the highest healthcare spending per capita, all above US$1,500 per person. However, the UAE's high healthcare spending per capita is coupled with one of the smallest numbers of doctors (1.7 per '000 people) and nurses (2.7 per '000 people). Therefore within the GCC the UAE is most at risk of not meeting rising healthcare demand due to its under-resourced healthcare labour force.

UAE At Highest Risk Of Shortage
Healthcare Professional Indicators For A Selection Of Middle East And North African Countries

[1] Industry Trend Analysis - 'Lack Of Healthcare Professionals Poses A Threat To Meeting Healthcare Demand' - December 03 2013.

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