The continued buoyancy of the regional healthcare sector is providing ample opportunities for dedicated service industries to capitalise on its growth, according to a leading figure in the healthcare support field. Dr. Prem Jagyasi, CEO and MD of ExHealth, an agency that provides communications solutions for healthcare stakeholders, believes that the predictions of a steady growth for the industry bode well for specialist providers catering to healthcare organisations.
“The healthcare sector in the Gulf region has shown considerable resilience in the face of the economic downturn and the forecast is for this to continue,” he said, speaking yesterday. “It is estimated that by 2025, the Gulf’s healthcare market will increase fivefold and this steady growth has created opportunities for specialist providers offering tertiary services for the industry,” he added.
Dr. Jagyasi says that the growth in the healthcare sector is being underpinned by a maturing of the market, in which both major and minor players are outsourcing aspects of their operations to specialists in order to steal a march on their competition. He cites communications as being one area where stakeholders are keen to maintain their edge.
“Spreading the word about your organisation is a fundamental ingredient for success and effective public relations is vital to get ahead,” he said. “Industry growth equates to much more competition in the market place and you have to make your product or service stand out from the crowd in order to fully capitalise on the prevailing conditions,” he added.
Analysts have valued the GCC healthcare market at being between USD 15 billion and USD 18 billion last year, with a report published by Alpen Capital estimating that its growth would be about 9% annually to reach between USD 47 billion and USD 55 billion by 2020. This expansion is necessary to service an increasing population, with the GCC’s current population growth rate being around five per cent a year – a rate that will see its 39 million inhabitants double over the next 20 years. US management consultant McKinsey & Company predicts that the cost of healthcare in the GCC will increase by 240 per cent over this period.
In addition to the continued relocation of expatriates to the Gulf region, life expectancy among its established population is rising. The average age of a GCC inhabitant is now 76 years, which is just two years less than that of a US citizen. This figure is between 20-50% more than the various Gulf State countries life expectancies in 1970, revealing the great strides forward that have been made in the region’s healthcare provision over the last 40 years.
Although Dr. Jagyasi is sanguine about the opportunities presented to tertiary services through the continued expansion of the healthcare sector, he is also quick to recognise the wider health challenges posed for the region.
“Chronic ailments such as diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease and other obesity-related illnesses continue to place a burden on the GCC health sector,” he said. “A sedentary lifestyle and the popularity of a fast food diet are just two of the bad habits adopted from the west that are causing health issues in the GCC population. When you add to these factors the global shortage of healthcare professionals to provide the necessary services, you can see that there are still considerable challenges to be faced,” he added.