By Andy Sambidge
New research says rising tide of lifestyle illnesses set to drive expansion in spending.
The UAE's healthcare market is predicted to grow at an annual rate of more than 13 percent to 2012, according to new research.A new report by research house RNCOS said the growth would be driven by various factors such as rapidly increasing population, rising prevalence of lifestyle diseases, such as obesity, diabetes and hypertension, and the lack of an internationally accredited healthcare infrastructure.
It said the country has been witnessing "tremendous increase" in demand for healthcare services, resulting into increased healthcare spending.
RNCOS said it expected increasing private sector participation in healthcare provision and the introduction of compulsory medical insurance schemes.
It said the UAE government, which was responsible for about 70 percent of all healthcare spending in 2007, was "rapidly promoting" the involvement of private sector in all areas of medical services ranging from diagnosis to treatment.
"Under such scenario of outstanding expansion opportunities, we anticipate big investment from the private sector in the forecast period," RNCOS added.
The report said the demand for hospitals and hospital beds was anticipated to rise over the next few years "since the existing infrastructure is inadequate to deal with rising number of health complications in all sections of the society and every age group people".
The penetration of hospital beds in the UAE is currently low by international standards, RNCOS said, with less than 2 beds per 1,000 population (in 2007), about half the level in developed countries globally.