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System struggling to tackle spread of common diseases: OBG
KUWAIT CITY, Oct 29: The Oxford Business Group (OBG) said Kuwait’s demographic transition is expected to exacerbate financial pressures on the public healthcare system, which is already struggling to tackle the spread of common diseases in high-income countries such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
In March 2017, the World Health Organization reported that non-communicable diseases represent 73 percent of all deaths in Kuwait. Rapid population growth, changing demographic shifts and high rates of non-communicable diseases have created additional pressure on the absorptive capacity of the country’s public health system at a time when the population of Kuwait has almost doubled since the beginning of the century, rising from two million to four million last year according to World Bank data.
Although two-thirds of the population is between the ages of 15 and 49, an estimated 600,000 people will reach 50 years over the next decade. Oxford Group said the public expenditure on health care has risen in recent decades from 76 percent of total health spending in 2000 to a 87.1 percent in 2009, but fell to 85.9 percent in 2014, the latest year for statistics where total healthcare expenditure was s $5.2 billion. The current population trends are expected to record a compound annual growth rate of 7.5% between 2015 and 2020, bringing health spending to $8 billion.
Meanwhile, the prices of medical services and products also rose in 2015 and 2016 by 8 percent and 8.4 percent, respectively, according to data from US consultancy Aon Hewitt. The public order is already showing signs of stress and overcrowding and in February some hospitals stopped healthcare services to expatriates. The financial pressure is also a source of concern, and local media reported in June that restrictions on the health ministry’s budget have led to a lack of funding in evening clinics.
The new main pillars of healthcare in Kuwait are concentrated on increasing the capacity of public hospitals, with a significant expected improvement after completion of projects in eight hospitals, including the Amiri Hospital, Al Sabah Hospital, Police Hospital, Ibn Sina Hospital and a new maternity and children’s hospital.
The government expects to start operation of the Amiri Hospital and Al-Sabah Hospital with a capacity of 446 beds and 771 beds, respectively, before 2020. The construction of hospitals provides new opportunities for private healthcare providers. This activity is the largest growth engine in the construction sector and contributes 6 of the country’s top 10 construction projects with an estimated value of $5.5 billion as of September 2016.
By Abubakar A. Ibrahim
Arab Times Staf