Bahrain - A leading private healthcare provider will soon open its third clinic in Bahrain and has drawn up plans to acquire an existing facility to launch its own multi-speciality hospital.

Aster DM Healthcare’s first two clinics are located in Gudaibiya and Sanad, but it plans to provide services nationwide.

The group’s chairman Dr Azad Moopen told the GDN there was a big demand for private clinics in Bahrain.

“We have the licence from the authorities concerned in Bahrain to start four clinics, of which we have started two facilities,” he said.

“We are looking for the opportunity to soon start the third clinic, without any delay.

“In addition to this, we are also looking for a potential asset that can be acquired – like a hospital or clinic.”

The GDN previously reported the Dubai-based group, which has an annual turnover of $1billion, plans to invest BD10 million in Bahrain.

That includes a hospital by 2020 with an estimated budget of between BD5m and BD7m.

“There is good demand in Bahrain, but in my opinion a saturation level of high-end hospitals,” added Dr Moopen.

“But there are not enough beds in the medium size hospitals, which indicates there is a big requirement in this category.”

The doctor turned businessman, who has spent more than three decades in the region, said private players were increasingly taking on a key role in the health care sector.

“When I came to this part of the world, only the government provided treatment,” he said.

“This has now changed with private players operating across the GCC in the health sector.

“The biggest change to happen is the introduction of mandatory insurance cover for expats in Gulf countries by their employers, which provides them basic health cover.”

Bahrain is due to start rolling out the National Health Insurance Scheme (Sehati) this year.

Under Sehati every person in the country will be covered by health insurance.

Citizens will be covered for free, but employers will have to pay additional fees for expatriate staff members.

“Accessibility to good healthcare for everybody is now possible, as earlier low income workers found it difficult or were reluctant to go to hospital,” said Dr Moopen.

Meanwhile, he revealed more than 700 volunteers in Bahrain had signed up to an Aster initiative to promote health in the community, which now has over 7,000 volunteers globally.

The group is also planning a large medical camp on January 26 to mark Indian Republic Day at its Sanad clinic, which is expected to help 1,000 people.

“We also have a full medical team consisting of two doctors and four staff working at a camp in Jordan for Syrian refugees,” said Dr Moopen.

“We have provided them full medical supplies and the team treats about 70 people daily.”

In addition, the group’s outreach programmes saw it send two containers of food to Somalia last year to help alleviate famine and another to help Rohingya refugees, who fled to Bangladesh to escape persecution in Burma.

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