Total healthcare spending in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is expected to hit $69bn by 2020, offering “significant” potential for research and development (R&D), thus requiring enhanced research funding from sovereigns and strengthened linkage between the private sector and governments, according to Strategy&.
Although the GCC governments and private companies are making significant investments in the sector to improve the range of medical offerings and services available, Strategy& said the region’s R&D in the healthcare market is currently below international levels due to myriad reasons.
Not only is there limited availability of research funding and grants but also the number of GCC healthcare research publications in international peer-reviewed journals and healthcare patents of GCC origin remain below global standards, it said in a report.
There are “insufficient” number of healthcare researchers due to the limited number of post-graduate medical education institutions and consequently not enough researchers being produced or receiving training on the ground, the report said, also citing “insufficient” research infrastructure in terms of research centres and labs. Strategy& also found weak university-to-industry linkages and limited cross-border research collaboration.
On the other hand, the report found that R&D spending in the global healthcare sector is expected to reach $165bn by 2018. Surpassing computing and electronics, R&D is set to become the largest spending industry globally.
“The GCC healthcare has significant potential for investment in R&D. The demand for new hospitals, clinics and medical services is growing, and the GCC governments are expected to spend and invest significantly more in the sector by 2020,” according to Nikhil Idnani (pictured), Principal with Strategy&.
This, according to him, should be accompanied by governments enhancing research funding and a strengthening of linkages between universities, the private sector and governments.
“If these steps are taken into consideration, the GCC definitely has the potential to provide its patients with world-class care, and its caregivers and healthcare businesses with the ideal opportunities to develop,” he said.
The report highlighted the increasing number of healthcare research institutions being established in the GCC, such as the Al Jalila Foundation Research Center in the UAE, King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center in Saudi Arabia, and Sidra Hospital and Research Center in Qatar.
Last month, Kuwait-based economic think-tank Global had said the GCC offers immense opportunities, especially under public private partnership model, in the healthcare sector, which is slated to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 12.5% up to 2020.