Kuwait ranks third largest healthcare market in the Middle East
1 April 2018, Source: Oxford Business Group, WHO
Kuwait, one of the world's richest countries per capita, is in the northwestern corner of the Persian Gulf, nestled between Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Spanning over 17,000 square kilometers, the country was home to a population of 3,892,000 in 2015. Statistics shared by National Geographic show that one third of the population is made up of Kuwaiti Arabs, while Egyptian and Palestinian Arabs make up 22% and non-Arabs (mostly South Asians) make up 38 %.
According to The World Factbook by the Central Intelligence Agency, Kuwait has crude oil reserves of approximately 102 billion barrels - more than 6% of world reserves -and Kuwaiti officials plan to increase oil production to 4 million barrels per day by 2020. It also states that petroleum accounts for over half of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), 94% of export revenues and 90% of government income.
Kuwait is home to one of the more advanced and modern healthcare systems that can be found in the Middle East. Statistics released by the World Health Organization (WHO) showed that in 2014 total expenditure on health per capita was $ 2,320, while total expenditure on health was 3% of GDP. In September 2015 market research store Research and Markets, reported that private healthcare accounted for around a fifth of total spending and that the Kuwaiti government was funding treatment for many nationals abroad at the time.
According to Research and Markets, as the country’s population expands and grows older and the prevalence of non-communicable diseases (such as diabetes and obesity increases), the government is coming under increasing pressure to improve its domestic facilities. The government embarked on a US$108bn project to provide an additional 3,500 hospital beds and boost healthcare facilities. It estimated that once the project was completed, an additional 15,000 healthcare professionals would be required.
With many Kuwaitis continuing to seek treatment abroad, the cost of providing healthcare is set to rise substantially in the coming years, according to the Oxford Business Group’s Kuwait 2015 report. Alpen Capital, a financial advisory services provider operating across the GCC and South Asia, said it expected the Kuwait healthcare market to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.4% between 2013 and 2018, increasing the total value of the market from $3.5bn to $5.4bn. In 2018, the outpatient market is forecast to be worth around $3.9bn, or 72%, while the size of the inpatient market is forecast to be worth $1.5bn, or 28%.
Kuwait’s Ministry of Health (MoH) is ultimately responsible for the various aspects of the healthcare system, including public health. preventative health and the regulating of the private sector. While this is the case, other public or semi-public institutions, such as the military, operate autonomous healthcare systems for their own employees.
Some organizations pay for private health insurance for their employees, and as private provision increases, the government continues to assess the possibility of creating an independent healthcare regulator, to assume policy licensing and quality assurance functions.
While the country’s government remains the main provider of healthcare, several private healthcare groups and hospitals are currently in operation. Al Salam International Hospital, New Mowasat Hospital and Royale Hayat Hospital are three of the most prominent providers of private healthcare.
Situated in Dasma, Al Salam International Hospital serves the private Kuwaiti and expatriate market on both an outpatient and an inpatient basis. It provides specialized medical care in obstetric gynecology, surgical, medical, pediatric and critical care services and offers a variety of specialized clinic services designed to meet the particular needs of the population, such as dental services, dialysis and maternal-child healthcare.
Nearby Salmiya is home to New Mowasat Hospital, a 100-bed facility that spans 27,000 square meters and is owned by Mowasat Healthcare Company (MHC), a publicly traded company on the Kuwait Stock Exchange. It offers services in various branches of medicine including gynecology, ophthalmology, neurosurgery, cardiology and urology. The hospital has received accreditation from healthcare bodies Accreditation Canada International (ACI) and Joint Commission International, as well as been voted a “Superbrand” by the Superbrands Council, which selects the top brands under various categories.
Royale Hayat Hospital in Jabriya is also a multi-specialty healthcare provider, which was originally a hospital serving only women and children. In February 2016, Royale Hayat was voted Kuwait’s best hospital for the 6th consecutive year in the Service Hero Awards, Arab World's only 100% consumer-driven customer satisfaction index.
Kuwait is completely dependent on imports for medical devices, which has created significant advantages for US suppliers, including competitive pricing. Today, European suppliers are increasingly gaining market share as a result of their close proximity to the market and perceived high level of customer support.
Medical and in vitro diagnostic (IVD) devices in Kuwait are regulated by the Ministry of Health’s Department for Unclassified and Medical Devices. The country’s classification system follows the EU model of risk-based Classes I, IIa, IIb and III, and an authorized representative is required to register products there.