One of the highest expenditure in the region
To the government of Bahrain, healthcare is a key-developing sector towards a service-oriented economy with high standards practitioners and facilities. Healthcare in Bahrain is available to the whole population in line with the World Health Organization global objectives. It is available through both private and public systems where medical services are free or subsidized. In the 2012-2013 budget healthcare expenditure accounted for around 9 percent of the GDP. Primary health care is the cornerstone of the public health services and is covered through a network of primary health care centres and clinics scattered throughout the five governorate of the kingdom. The Salmaniya Medical Complex, the psychiatric hospital, geriatric hospital and four maternity hospitals cover secondary care. The Bahrain Defence Force Hospital (BDF) under the umbrella of the Ministry of Defence also provides public health care service.
Healthcare in Bahrain is regarded as one of the best of the region with patients coming from other parts of the Gulf to undergo operations there. The country boasts over 20 private and public hospitals and medical clinics with over 2,000 doctors and surgeons registered in Bahrain, according to EDB.
Around 80% of the Bahraini population rely on the public healthcare institutions although some employers provide access to private healthcare insurance. Non-Bahraini individuals employed at firms that have more than 50 employees are covered by the primary healthcare system through a compulsory health insurance scheme.
There are four medical universities of Bahrain that include the Arab Gulf University, the Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland, the College of Health Science, and AMA International University and provide with a local workforce that accounts for more than half of health system employees.
Private sector boost
The private healthcare facilities have increased over the past years mainly constituted by general and specialised clinics but expanding slowly to the creation of a private secondary care alternative. The government of Bahrain´s healthcare policies include the encouragement of a greater participation of the private sector.
“We came here because of the general opportunities, the ease-to-do-business atmosphere compare to the neighbouring countries and the real need for a medical centre,” explained to GCC Ravi Preet Singh, chief operating officer of Royal Bahrain Hospital. “We have had a very good relation with both the National Health Regulatory Authority and the Ministry of Health and I must say that the service and support provided by the Bahrain Economic Development Board, EDB is unique in essence.”
Health care in Bahrain is regulated by the Ministry of Health and the National Health Regulatory Authority (NHRA) which, established in 2009, is an independent regulator that sets the quality standards across the private healthcare providers and professionals, impulses the monitoring and undertakes regular inspections.
“As we grow we are in the need of more doctors, nurses and paramedical staff and we need to speed up the process of the licensing them, currently it takes between three to four months. Although is less time than in other countries of the region, we need to bring more international doctors from abroad to perform surgeries once a month,” said Singh.
Kims group in partnership with a prominent Bahraini businessman developed the KIMS Bahrain Medical Centre around eight years ago. It is a multi-specialty outpatient medical centre with diagnostic facilities, etc. The success of this operation resulted in the creation of KIMS Holding Company (KHC) registered in Bahrain as the investment arm of the KIMS group in the GCC. Through KHC, several investors have jointly invested to form a chain of healthcare institutions across the GCC countries. Currently the group is operating a 55-bed multi-specialty hospital in Muscat, in the Sultanate of Oman, and several medium and large medical centres in Al Wakra, Qatar, Jubail and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia as well as a medical centre in Dubai, UAE. “Back to the region, we consider Bahrain as a strategic location that will be improved with the connectivity of the “friendship bridge” with Qatar. We will keep on with our expansion in Bahrain but also we are opening in Doha and in the Eastern part of Saudi Arabia”, Singh told GCC.
The success of the group in the region can also be adapted to its development in India. The group has tied up with another private investor in Bahrain to develop the brand in India and they already have two hospitals, a number of medical centres, outdoor clinics and a dedicated oncology centre “Kim is very much developing Indian-Bahraini business relations where Indian companies benefit in Bahrain but Bahraini companies can also benefit in India. It has created a platform for business between the two countries.
Creating a health tourism industry
The creation of a health tourism industry is on top of government proposals to continue expanding the national economy and diversifying it. One of the key developments towards this vision is Dilmunia, a $1,6Bn real estate project in Muharraq island that includes different specialised health centres as well as fitness facilities.
“We have a high number of patients that come from Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Kuwait on a regular basis, Dr. Kassim Adati, CEO of Bahrain Specialist Hospital told GCC. In 2012 the hospital celebrated its 10th anniversary and the previous year it celebrated the accreditation from the Joint Commission International (JCI) based on the highest global standards in healthcare. The hospital became the first and only hospital in Bahrain to be honoured with such an award.
“We believe we can become a hub for medical tourism in the region and beyond. We are already part of a network of medical tourism hospitals and we receive many inquires about the services we offer”, said Adati.
Key Hospitals in Bahrain
American Mission Hospital
Bahrain Specialist Hospital
Ibn Al-Nafees Hospital
International Hospital of Bahrain
Noor Specialist Hospital
Bahrain Royal Hospital
King Hamad Hospital
Health System of Bahrain
Victorian Memorial Hospital (12 beds)
American Mission Hospital (24 beds)
First clinic for pearl divers
Preventive & Public Health Services Started
Opening of the first Public Hospital
Opening of the Salmaniya Medical Complex 910 beds
The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland – Medical University of Bahrain RCSI is founded in 2004 and is a constituent university of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland.
The National Health Regulatory Authority (NHRA) is established
Royal Bahrain Hospital is inaugurated
King Hamad Hospital with 312 beds is inaugurated
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