Is the Current Boom in GCC Healthcare Infrastructure Meeting Future Demand?
The GCC healthcare provider subsector still trails international benchmarks even though it has been growing rapidly over the past few years. Supported by larger healthcare budgets, the GCC countries have embarked on ambitious healthcare infrastructure building programs. Such large medical cities and complexes, with billions of dollars of investments lined up, is expected to not only raise the supply of medical infrastructure but also raise the quality of healthcare services in the region.
There are 37 mega hospital projects in the GCC that are in active stages of development and are worth over 100 mn USD. These projects are expected to be completed in 2020. The total investment cost of these projects is calculated as USD 28.2 Bn, and are expected to add a total of 22,558 beds. The calculated average cost per bed is USD 1.28 Mn. The region will also require at least 30,460 doctors, 66,711 nurses, 8,157 pharmacist and 37,654 Allied health professionals to staff these projects in order to maintain the current GCC staffing ratios.
Forecasting future demand, and in the most agressive scenario, the GCC will require over 1,000 new hospitals (assuming each hospital has 200 beds on average) by 2020 at a total estimated cost of 26.8 Bn USD in order to maintain the current OECD average, which are much higher than the current GCC average across all indicators. These new hospitals in turn will require over 72,000 physicians and 280,000 nurses to staff the 210,000 beds that need to be added in order to maintain the OECD average. According to a compilation of the current mega-projects, the 22,558 beds planned across the GCC will only meet 10.7% of the future beds that will be required by 2020 to maintain the current OECD average and serve the future ~60 mn population of the GCC in 2020.
While the GCC certainly lags the OECD in terms of these key healthcare infrastructure indicators an important mention of alternative and preventative measures in healthcare services must be made. According to the most recent data from the NHS, the UK has decreased its current bed capacity by 51% in the past 25 years, as more efficient operations of existing hospital facilities and increased reliance on new treatment methods such as single day surgery centres as well as preventative medicine methods. Therefore, there needs to be more focus on more efficient management of the existing GCC clinical capacity as well as an increased investment in new alternative and preventative models of healthcare.
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