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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Mideast healthcare sector remains robust

By PMA RASHEED 
The Gulf Today, 26 Jan 2011

The Middle East healthcare sector continues to enjoy robust growth despite the global financial crunch and stubborn levels of unemployment in Europe and the US, according to the organisers of the 36th edition of Arab Health Congress and Exhibition.
The healthcare spending in the region is expected to triple over the next 15 years to $60 billion annually and the number of beds at hospitals will double to162,000 by 2025, revealed Simon Page, Group Director of Arab Health.
“By the year 2020, the GCC healthcare industry growth will surpass the global healthcare economic trends which show 40 per cent growth over the past five years,” he indicated.
“Having been considerable resilient to the global economic slowdown so far, the GCC is not immune to the challenges that come with a rapidly growing healthcare sector, such as ageing populations, increased burden of diseases and antiquated healthcare systems,” said Page.
“The growth in popularity of fast food and lack of exercise are elective lifestyle issues which have driven instances of diabetes, cardiovascular and obesity-related illnesses to record levels, placing further pressure on regional healthcare providers,” he noted.
“The growth of Arab Health is consistent with the expected boom in the Gulf’s healthcare economy, as more than 300 new exhibitors and a host of new country pavilions are participating this year, with Argentina, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and Portugal making their debuts,” he added.
The global healthcare industry meets in Dubai at the largest gathering of healthcare professionals in the Middle East region.
Healthcare establishments from different parts of the world have descended on Dubai do business at the Arab Health, which was kicked off at Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre on Monday.
The four-day healthcare extravaganza features over 2800 exhibiting companies from 60 countries covering 85,000 square metres of floor space and with the participation of over 65,000 medical and healthcare professionals.
According to Page, the Arab Health features the world’s most comprehensive series of multi-track medical conferences covering the entire spectrum of healthcare provision, management and legislation.
“This year, major delegations have come from China with over 400 participating companies, Germany with over 350 companies and the UAE, the US, the UK and Italy, all with well over 150 companies exhibiting,” he added.
“Large representations also come from France, India, South Korea and Taiwan with upwards of 100 companies each. The exhibition is a complete sell out. The congress is viewed as a must-attend global event in the healthcare calendar,” he said.
“As the global economic downturn puts spotlight on cost-effective business models and investment strategies, leading healthcare professionals from across the world discuss the latest issues and address the challenges in today’s regional and global healthcare industry at Leaders in Healthcare, the flagship event of Arab Health 2011,” elaborated Page.
“The session focuses on developing business models for the sustainable delivery of future healthcare, paying particular attention to cost savings, cost-effectiveness and strategies to raise investment capital.”
“Healthcare professionals should cultivate strategies to economise where prudent and to capitalise on investment opportunities and developing sustainable business models,” he opined.
“Dubai has seen a growth in the development of private healthcare facilities to meet its need of a growing population. The growing population is also more sophisticated in their choice in healthcare so patient-centered care is playing a vital role in building trust and attracting patients to the private sector,” Page said.
Commenting on the main areas of growth for the healthcare industry in Dubai, Dr Ayesha Abdulla, Executive Director of Dubai Healthcare City, said, “There remains a strong demand for high quality healthcare providers in tertiary care. If patient needs can be addressed at home, then they are more likely to stay.”
“This offers great potential for specialists in fields of relevant to the local population’s health issues such as diabetes and cardiology. The demand also included in the areas of oncology, pediatrics, fertility treatment, elderly care, special needs, rehabilitation services and complementary and alternative medicine,” she explained.
Speaking at the Quality Management in Healthcare Conference, Dr Samer H Ellahham, Chief Quality Officer and Senior Consultant of Cleveland Clinic at Sheikh Khalifa Medical City in Abu Dhabi, said, “There are significant gaps in quality management practices throughout the Middle East. We need to raise the importance of quality management, to improve the quality of healthcare.”
“With the region’s healthcare sector rapidly expanding, hospitals, clinics and healthcare service providers must stay ahead of the competition by keeping their medical accreditation up-to-date,” he added.

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