By Prasanth Manghat
Healthcare: The only way is up for UAE healthcare
The UAE’s healthcare sector is currently valued at AED64bn, but is expected to grow by 60 percent over the next five years to AED100bn in 2021, according to a report by Mena Research Partners (MRP), meaning it has been growing at over ten percent year-on-year since 2015.
Its rapid evolution is driven by several trends, including the move from the under-supply of infrastructure to saturation, shift from curative to preventive care, prevalence of chronic diseases, integration of technology, privatisation, aging population and medical tourism.
However, according to the report, there will be an increase of 15 to 25 percent in several subsectors: healthcare providers, which account for 76 percent, medical devices, estimated at six percent and pharmaceuticals and life sciences at 18 percent of the total market size.
Initiatives by the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) and Health Authority of Abu Dhabi (HAAD) to promote medical tourism, as well as the increased penetration of mandatory insurance, are also expected to contribute to the sector’s growth in 2018.
It is worth adding that the UAE is one of the top destinations for medical tourism, with many travellers seeking cosmetic surgery in the Gulf country, which stands at number 27 in world health systems, according to ranking by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Its health sector has also kept its position as one of the world’s top 20 in terms of spending per capita, with the average spending per person per year estimated at $1,200. The number is expected to increase due to population growth, high birth rates and longer life expectancies.
The percentage of Emiratis above the age of 60 is set to double from around 5.2 percent at present to 11 percent by 2032. Poor lifestyle habits are also fuelling this growth, with a high prevalence of chronic diseases induced by poor nutrition, sedentary schedules and smoking. As a result, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer are increasing their dominance. The International Diabetes Federation estimated that about 20 percent of the population is diabetic.
Apart from Dubai and Abu Dhabi, Sharjah’s healthcare market is also expected to grow from AED3.6b in 2015 to AED5.6b in 2020, according to Sharjah’s Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq).