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KUWAIT

Major upgrades to the country’s healthcare infrastructure and facilities are underway. Kuwaitis suffer from high rates of obesity, diabetes, and cancer. According to the Global Burden of Disease Study, Kuwait is the fourth-most obese country in the world. Although the population is young, the disease burden is a growing concern.

Kuwait’s public healthcare sector accounts for more than 80% of the healthcare spending in the country. Currently, Kuwait’s Ministry of Health is the owner, operator, regulator, and financer of the vast majority of healthcare services rendered, pharmaceuticals purchased, and medical equipment acquired in the country. The government operates 15 general and specialized hospitals. The private sector is expected to grow moderately in the coming years, with private firms estimated to account for 20% of healthcare spending.

Kuwait aspires to create world-class healthcare providers as well as to improve the quality of healthcare in treatment centers, such as the Kuwait Cancer Center, the Kuwait Chest Disease Hospital, the Kuwait Radiology Center, the Ibn-Sina Center for Ophthalmology, and the Dasman Research Center for Diabetes.

The Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Public Works announced a USD 4.42 billion (KD 1.250 billion) project to replace or expand nine operating hospitals (five general hospitals and four specialized hospitals) within the next ten years. The goal is to add 5,400 beds, 150 operating rooms, and 500 outpatient clinics to the current 7,095 hospital beds countrywide. In addition, the USD 1.1 billion (KD 304 million) Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah Hospital, which is near completion, will add another 1,200 beds. Currently, Kuwait has two hospital beds per 1,000 people. This represents a stark undersupply in the face to population growth and the rising disease burden.

According to the Ministry of Health, the private sector will be instrumental in the overall development of the medical sector. The private healthcare market is estimated to grow by 15-20% in the coming years. Currently, a total of 12 private hospitals (totaling 1,038 hospital beds) provide private medical services in Kuwait. Several new private hospitals are expected to open in the next few years, adding 1,800 hospital beds. Although the government offers free healthcare services, patients are willing to pay a premium for private treatment in order to reduce waiting times and treatment schedules. In certain fields, such as obstetrics and gynecology, local patients pay a premium for high-end services offered by private hospitals.

The healthcare sector is witnessing some reform initiatives. One of the reforms includes broadening public-private partnerships and giving the private sector a larger role in the provision of healthcare services. Recently, public healthcare centers began referring patients to private medical care providers for services like IVF treatment and physiotherapy.

The Ministry of Health has curbed the frequent overseas travel for medical care over the past year and is working to increase the development of the medical sector in Kuwait. The new hospitals coming online will need medical equipment, operators, training, and education. There also is an interest in improving the quality of trauma center care, paramedic training, and rehab centers in the country. There is a growing interest in developing hospital-to-hospital relationships so that for more serious illnesses that still require treatment in the United States, some pre and post-operative care can be delivered in Kuwait.

Opportunities:

Opportunities for U.S. companies include a broad range of healthcare-oriented products and services, including medical equipment; hospital supplies, products, and services; and specialized applications. Quality control is now being enforced at an increased level. It is estimated that 15,000 healthcare professionals will be needed in the public sector alone in the coming years.


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