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Arab Health Spring: The Need to Curtail Costs

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Challenge of treating more people with dwindling resources to be addressed at Hospital Build & Infrastructure Middle East 2012

Dubai, UAE: The way the healthcare industry accounts for its rising costs is a topic that has received much interest on a global scale. The USA today spends 17-19% of its GDP on healthcare while most countries in the OECD spend 8-9% and the GCC spend 3-4%. In the US, the government sponsored Medicaid and Medicare payment systems are projected to bankrupt the US fiscal system within the next 25-30 years. As the world population swells to just over seven billion, emerging economies along the Silk Road and the ageing economies of the Old World alike are facing the similar challenges of treating more people, for more diseases, with dwindling resources.

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Dr Mussaad Al-Razouki , CEO at Kleos Healthcare Corporation in Kuwait, will take part in a plenary session to discuss how higher healthcare costs in the Middle East will affect patient visits to clinics at the upcoming Leaders in Health Conference in Dubai. This topic will be discussed as part of a wider conference programme taking place during the 4th Hospital Build & Infrastructure Middle East Exhibition & Congress from 4-6 June 2012.

According to Dr. Al-Razouki, "As Middle East governments pursue ways in which to increase the welfare and citizen's access to enhanced quality of life measures, increased spending on healthcare is a top priority. The Kuwaiti Ministry of Health recently announced a record budget of US$4 bn for FY 2012-13, which represents a 100% increase from the US$2 bn budget of FY 2007-8 five years ago; this spending accounts for over 80% of the healthcare spending in the country. In Saudi Arabia, the GCC's largest health care market, the total Saudi healthcare budget (including government and private investment) comes to about US$21.3 bn for the FY 2012-13. In 2007, McKinsey and Co. calculated the GCC's expenditure on healthcare to reach a total of $60 billion by 2025; this, however, seems a great underestimation looking at how both the Kuwaiti and Saudi healthcare budgets are increasing."

Indeed, GCC governments continue to build costly cathedrals of care such as the island hospital of Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi and the Sidra Medical Research Center in Qatar. While tertiary centers of excellence with a focus on research are greatly needed in the Middle East, a strong focus also needs to be placed on prevention that reduces the need for hefty investments in healthcare infrastructure. Another large proponent of these exponential MoH budget increases is the increasing dependency on overseas healthcare spending by GCC governments.
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