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ANALYSIS / MEDICAL MEETINGS HEALTH CHEQUE


As governments offset soaring healthcare costs and encourage private-sector investment, Claire Malcolm reports on the economic potential of the GCC’s medical meetings sector as a possible panacea for the industry’s future health


By 2018, the GCC healthcare industry is expected to be worth US$133 billion, according to a mid-2012 Frost & Sullivan healthcare report on the region. This comes as rapid urbanisation and a rise in life- style diseases, such as diabetes and obesity, fuel demand for modern medical facilities and services. Saudi Arabia and the UAE are leading the mar-


ket growth within the GCC. Pressing healthcare issues have helped push medical meetings to the top of the healthcare agenda raising awareness and fast tracking knowledge-based economic opportu- nity. These opportunities could ease the burden on regional governments, which have tradition- ally funded healthcare infrastructure development, by attracting more private-sector support. Dubai-based Congress Solutions International


(CSI) has seen its healthcare sector business rise dramatically since 2005, when medical meetings accounted for just 15 to 20 percent of business. This figure has increased to around 80 percent today. According to CSI General Manager Alexandre


Lolliot, this growth is the direct result of a sus- tained business development strategy combined with an aggressive political agenda on the part of the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) and the Health Authority Abu Dhabi (HAAD), as well as effective destination marketing. “The local authorities are very active in attracting


international congresses and medical meetings. Large- scale events such as the FDI Annual World Dental Congress, which was held in Dubai in 2007 – a first for the Middle East – and the World Diabetes Congress


2011, were instrumental in raising the UAE’s profile. Their success was a huge confidence boost for international associations and corporates looking for new emerging market locations,” he says. “The medical meetings sector is governed by a very


strict code of ethics. Selecting an appropriate destination, strategic marketing and positive PR messaging in the last few years has brought the UAE to a new level of maturity when it comes to understanding how to approach this high-value sector,” he adds. Lolliot also highlights the rising interest from global


Above: Alexandre Lolliot


associations, which have noted an increase in the number of GCC attendees at international events as a positive indicator in triggering demand for conferences in the region.


INSIGHT INTO GCC HEALTHCARE


• The GCC healthcare spend is expected to reach around US$44 billion by 2015 and an estimated US$60 billion by 2025 rising from US$28.9 billion in 2011


• By 2025, demand for hospital beds in the GCC will more than double to reach almost 162,000


• Saudi Arabia spent US$13 billion on healthcare in 2005. This spending is expected to grow to over US$20 billion by 2016


• The UAE government spent 24 percent of the 2011 federal budget on social and healthcare development. Total healthcare spending is projected to nearly double by 2014, raising the sector’s GDP contribution from 2.8 percent to 3.4 percent, respectively


• The UAE already spends US$650 million on medical costs related to diabetes. It is predicted that this figure will rise by 58 percent to US$1 billion by 2020


• It is estimated that the UAE’s healthcare market will reach US$14.6 billion by the end of 2014, growing at a compound annual growth rate of around 16 percent from 2011


• In Kuwait, 1,200 healthcare projects are scheduled for 2011/12 with tenders valued at approxi- mately US$3 billion


• Currently, around 71 percent of healthcare spending in the GCC is met through public funds


• Bahrain’s health ministry has plans in place to build 23 new health and medical centres, a cancer centre and a new hospital


44 billion


expected GCC healthcare expenditure by 2015


30 / • Oman has allocated US$190 million to extend healthcare infrastructure facilities


• Saudi Arabia plans to develop 700 primary healthcare centres, 121 new hospitals and refurbish a further 66 over the next five years


Sources: Alpen Capital GCC Healthcare Industry report (December 2011), Zawya Project Monitor, Hospital Build & Infrastructure Middle East


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