In this video, Margaret Howson, HR Director of Sanofi in the Middle East, discusses the growth of the healthcare industry with Sara Khoja and provides insights on the key changes she foresees in the region.

Please click here to view the video.

Healthcare in the Middle East

The development of a world class healthcare system is top of the agenda in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region with investment into healthcare being a primary focus (especially through public private funding arrangements) and amounting to a considerable percentage of gross domestic product.

Dubai has sought to establish itself as a centre for medical tourism for elective procedures and across the GCC, the healthcare system is being regulated to ensure ethical clinical governance, high standards in medical training and recognition of qualifications, and development of medical insurance regimes to ensure cover for all. The UAE has also set itself ambitious targets with regard to manufacturing generic drugs, carrying out research and development of new drugs, as well as running drug trials in the country.

Focus on wellness

One of the more recent trends is the increased regulation of private medical insurance and the obligation of an employer to provide such insurance to all employees (and in KSA and Abu Dhabi to their dependants). There is also a growing focus on wellness and prevention, especially with regards to employee wellness and mental health, as insurance providers begin to offer employers reports on the services their staff are typically using and on how to address their proven concerns (for example a staff canteen for healthy eating, or exercise sessions during lunch time).

Consolidation and increased regulation

As in most sectors, there is now a trend to consolidate within the healthcare industry and the operators with proven records are solidifying their position. This causes a number of challenges as operators need to gain in efficiency but also invest in technology and staff development. This is a highly competitive industry and a very wide one with many stakeholders, clinics, hospitals, medical equipment manufacturers, pharmaceuticals, and medical services to name a few.

From a regulatory view point, increased regulation is required to provide for ethical clinical governance, consistency of quality standards by all operators and a more flexible resourcing model enabled by specialist short term visas for doctors and medical personnel to provide for a wider range of expertise in country.