The direct healthcare costs in the GCC region are expected to increase fivefold by 2025 to US$60 billion from US$12 billion now, with health risk factors, ageing, population growth and medical inflation contributing to the cost escalation. The GCC Healthcare 2025 report by McKinsey & Co Inc on Healthcare in the GCC – Challenges and Opportunities, presented by Dr Viktor Hediger at the GE Healthcare Middle East Media Summit, also cited the cost burden on cardiology will rise from US$1.5 billion now to US$15 billion by 2025.
Dr Hediger said that by 2025 cardiology will make for 24 per cent of the healthcare costs followed by infectious diseases, maternal and perinatal conditions, digestive diseases, genitourinal disorders, cancer and other diseases.
Addressing the Media Summit’s discussion on Healthcare Economics – the Cost of Early Health, he said the number of outpatient and inpatient visits is expected to grow 350 per cent in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait; 260 per cent in Bahrain; and 310 per cent in Oman.
However, the GCC region has a shortage of nursing staff with only 4.2 nurses per 1,000 population in the UAE; 3 per 1,000 in Saudi Arabia; 4.3 in Bahrain; and 3.5 in Oman. The GCC average of 4 nurses per 1,000 people is nearly half of that in OECD countries, which have an average of 9.4. Dr Hediger said that of the nursing staff, only 3 per cent are nationals in the UAE while the figures are higher in Bahrain (60 per cent) and Oman (56 per cent).
Governments in the region are making concerted efforts to address the challenges and implement a holistic healthcare system according to McKinsey & Co. The Ministries of Health are increasingly focusing on policy making. The private sector will also have an increasing role in healthcare delivery, said Dr Hediger.
He asserted the need for having neutral healthcare regulators for both the public and private sector to set standards and implement checks.
Over 50 delegates comprising leading medical experts, patient associations and media representatives joined GE Healthcare to also discuss the evolving practice of medicine and patient care from treating symptomatic ‘late-stage’ disease to a focus on earlier pre-symptomatic disease detection and earlier, potentially more effective treatment options.
GE Healthcare International President and CEO Reinaldo Garcia delivered the keynote address focusing on the company’s vision for the future of healthcare delivery. The summit also highlighted advances in prevention, treatment and diagnosis of cardiovascular disease, cancer and fetal defects. Other sessions covered healthcare economics and how molecular imaging is transforming the way chronic diseases are being diagnosed.
Healthcare experts participating at the summit included: Dr Mousa Akbar, Head of Cardiology Department, Al Sabah Hospital, Kuwait; Dr Zeynep Albayrak, Founding Partner, Neoson Ltd., Turkey; Dr Maha Barakat, Medical & Research Director, Imperial College London Diabetes Centre, Abu Dhabi, UAE; and Dr Mohamed Momtaz, Director of Fetal Medicine Unit, Kasr Al Aini Faculty of Medicine, Egypt.