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UAE health care market to reach Dh3.5b in 2018

Dubai: The growing population in the UAE will increase the need for more doctors, nurses, clinics and hospitals in the next few years and drive the country’s health care market to Dh3.5 billion to Dh4 billion by 2018, Colliers International told Gulf News yesterday.

Mansour Ahmad, director for valuation and advisory services at Colliers International, said that based on estimates that the UAE population will touch 12.2 million after five years, the demand for private health care services alone will expand by 37 per cent, from 2,550 beds in 2012 to 3,500 beds by 2018.

Another major contributing factor is the high incidence of lifestyle-related diseases such as diabetes. The demand will be fuelled further in the later years, when the predominantly young residents get older and require more medical attention.

However, while the health care market is set to expand further, the UAE is already struggling to keep pace with the current demand. According to a Colliers International report furnished to Gulf News, the UAE is experiencing a shortage of doctors, nurses and beds.

The shortage is prevalent across all countries in the GCC region, but the situation in the UAE looks more serious. Colliers data showed that there are only 2.7 nurses per 1,000 people in the UAE.

The ratio for doctors currently stands at 1.5 and beds, 1.1, for every 1,000 residents. The statistics are among the lowest within the region and pale in comparison with those in developed markets.

“The UAE key health care indicators clearly showcase how far behind the country is [and it is] lagging both in developed markets across the world and neighbouring markets in the GCC,” the report said.

Colliers recommended that in order for the country to cope with “rapidly increasing demand” the private sector should invest in the health care industry by establishing new hospitals, and improving and expanding existing facilities through public private partnership initiatives.

The rising demand for health care services will be a key topic of discussion at the Health care Investment Middle East and North Africa (Mena), which opens on November 24 in Dubai.

The event, sponsored by Colliers International, will also provide investors, operators and regulators with insights into how they can play a part in the region’s booming healthcare market

Ahmad cited population growth and demographic trend as “key fundamentals of health care demand in the UAE”. He said the demand is also driven by the “surge” in chronic diseases linked to people’s lifestyles.

“Further, as the population of the UAE is likely to age, there will be a sharp increase in health care demand, as almost 80 per cent of a person’s health care requirements typically occur after the age of 50,” Mansour told Gulf News.