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Sat 26 Apr 2014 10:24 AM

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GCC healthcare sector expected to grow to $69bn by 2018

New Alpen Capital report says Saudi Arabia will remain the largest market but UAE, Qatar will be fastest growing

GCC healthcare sector expected to grow to $69bn by 2018

The GCC healthcare market is projected to grow at an annual rate of 12 percent to $69.4 billion by 2018 from an estimated $39.4 billion last year, according to a new report by Alpen Capital

Outpatient and inpatient markets are expected to account for 79 percent and 21 percent respectively of the overall market size, it said.

Alpen said Saudi Arabia will continue to be the largest market, accounting for 58.2 percent of the total in 2018, followed by the UAE (18.1 percent).

In addition, Qatar and the UAE are expected to be the fastest growing markets in GCC over 2013-18, the report said

It added that the demand for number of hospital beds is expected to be 115,544 in 2018, an addition of 11,241 beds from 2013, which is in linewith the expected supply looking at the number of projects in the pipeline.

Sameena Ahmad, managing director, Alpen Capital, said: "The GCC region is poised for an unprecedented surge in healthcare consumption driven by robust population growth and rising income levels.

"Higher income levels and sedentary life styles have led to poor health conditions, a phenomenon that has been witnessed in most developed economies.

"The governments, which play the predominant role in healthcare services, are taking steps to ensure continuous development of infrastructure through nurturing management skills, increasing the share of private sector and utilising IT skills to spread the reach and range of healthcare services."

The IMF estimates that the region's population would cross the 50 million mark by 2020, providing impetus to the consumption of healthcare services.

While growth in the region's insurance premium outpaces the growth in the global market, the insurance penetration remains one of the lowest in the world.

The region is building large medical cities and complexes, with billions of dollars of investments lined up, to not only raise the supply of medical infrastructure but also raise the quality of healthcare services in the region

Sanjay Vig, managing director, Alpen Capital added: "We are bullish on the prospects of the healthcare industry in the region. On the demand side, rising affordability, lifestyle related diseases, the treatment of which is both costlier and lengthier, and increasing insurance penetration will ensure vigorous rise in healthcare spending in the GCC.

"On the supply side, there is dearth of highly qualified medical practitioners in the region and hence influx of foreign practitioners will continue to remain a trend. Private sector has limited presence in the industry at present but will play an important role in the time to come."

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