Qatar’s healthcare industry to reach $12 bn by 2024: Report

April 5, 2021

Medical tourism is expected to gain prominence in Qatar and be a focal point for the government’s strategy to diversify the economy away from oil, according to a report from Mashreq and the research firm Frost & Sullivan.
With the gradual emergence of top-notch tourism infrastructure and visa-free access to more than 80 countries, the report said, Qatar is on the right track to developing as a world-class medical tourism hub.
The Mashreq-Frost & Sullivan report forecasts that the private sector will play a bigger role in healthcare infrastructure and delivery in the future in Qatar.
“This is in line with the Ministry of Public Health’s long-term target of reaching 5,700 hospital beds by 2033,” the report said.
Over the past few decades, the report said, Qatar’s government has been investing heavily in developing an integrated healthcare system that offers high-quality services.
As a consequence, the healthcare industry has witnessed unprecedented growth and is estimated to reach $8.8 billion in 2020 and $12 billion by 2024, reflecting an incredible growth of 360 percent compared to 2010.
Sustaining this pace, Qatar’s healthcare system is likely to outperform its GCC neighbours within the next few years.
There has been a significant expansion of infrastructure and range of services in the Qatari healthcare system. The number of hospital beds reached 3535 in 2018, marking an additional 908 beds since 2016.
“The Qatari government is constantly trying to upgrade the quality of its health services by using advanced technology and international expertise. Together, the medical device, medical imaging, and IVD markets are estimated to be worth $0.35 billion in 2020,” the report said.
The market for medical equipment, in particular, is expected to grow over the next five years. Currently, the market relies on imports led by the US, followed by Europe and Asia due to the current lack of local production capacity in the area.
“Qatar is also pursuing various R&D initiatives and giving high priority to scientific research in support of Qatar National Vision 2030 goals. Although Qatar’s pharmaceuticals industry is still in its nascent stages, numerous start-ups and research projects are helping to establish the country as a centre for academic excellence and Medtech R&D,” the report said.
“Public-private partnerships will be further explored to achieve several healthcare-related goals. The private sector will be given a larger role in the government’s ongoing plans to develop a national health insurance scheme as well as provide better healthcare services. As an example, the government invited bidders from the private sector to design, build and operate three hospitals on state-owned land in Qatar in 2019,” the report said.
“Qatar is redrafting the public-private partnership framework to follow best practices. This will likely attract foreign investments into the country and support the development of the pharmaceuticals and medical devices markets,” it said.
“New ventures will have a positive impact on the ongoing self-sustainability efforts of the Qatari government. As such, the first pharmaceutical factory, Doha Pharmaceutical Industries, is nearing completion. This first of its kind factory is expected to start production by mid-2021 with over 150 medicines in the first phase of production and 300 in the second phase,” the report said.
Providing a general view, the report said that the GCC hospital revenues are predicted to grow by 5.8 percent in 2021 with the healthcare sector poised for strong growth on the back of a surge in medical devices, a growing branded generics market and increased investment in infrastructure and innovation.
The strength of rebound suggests that healthcare growth is on track to return to pre-COVID-19-levels when the region had the highest healthcare infrastructure investments with a major increase in the number of hospitals and beds.
“Hospital revenues heavily impacted by a COVID-19-induced drop in outpatient visits and elective surgery volumes are forecast to bounce back strongly in Q1 and Q2 2021 in most GCC countries,” said the report.
The report noted that the number of hospitals almost doubled in most countries, and at least 80 percent of the hospitals and primary care clinics built in the GCC were driven by government initiatives and expansion plans.
Karim Amer, head of Healthcare and Education, Mashreq Bank, said the GCC healthcare sector is on the cusp of a promising recovery, with clear evidence of growth in domestic drug manufacturing to bring down the portion of imported medicines, and the enormous scope for technological investment – particularly in AI, analytics, electronic health records and robotics.
“For investors and innovators within the healthcare ecosystem, the Gulf is unquestionably full of opportunity. Increasingly digital opportunities are driving new trends, for example, soaring demand for e-commerce services will most likely result in a doubling of e-commerce providers by 2030. This shift to digital health will only continue to emerge in prominence moving forward,” said Amer.

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