Major players in the health care industry call for further innovation to lower costs

healthcareOctober 15th 2014, Dubai, UAE: Key players in the health care sector have called for greater use of technology and innovation to help combat rising costs in the industry across the region.

Delegates at the ‘Health Care in the Middle East’ summit held by leading International publication events’ arm, The Economist Events, at the Madinat Jumeriah in Dubai, yesterday heard that the health care sector in the Middle East & North Africa (MENA) region had experienced healthy growth rising into strong double digits over recent years. According to Dr Amin Hussain al-Amiri, Undersecretary for Public Health Policy and the License Sector, the UAE has the highest drug expenditure per capita. This makes MENA a sought after market for health care investments.

The summit, which saw more than 170 senior-level stakeholders from Gulf Co-Operation Council (GCC) countries debate the sector’s most pressing issues, revealed that over the next five years MENA would see the fastest growth in health care spending in the world. According to HE Tawfik Khoja, Director General, Council Health Ministers for GCC States, health care expenditure will rise more than 400% which is due to citizens increasingly opting for local treatment as well as the rise in population, life expectancy and NCDs.

The event also highlighted the biggest changes affecting the market, including the new mandatory insurance policy which is set to see an increase from 1 million citizens insured, to 3 million by 2016 in Dubai alone.

Dr Vivek Muthu, Health Care Director at The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), who chaired the event, commented: “To date the government has invested heavily in the health care system. However, as the industry was already in double digit growth and as health care issues of residents in the GCC continue to develop, it has forced the sector as a whole to re-evaluate how it works together.

“The summit has highlighted many opportunities for both business growth and increased benefits in patient care, but the key was innovation for long-term, low-cost systems and technology,” Dr Muthu said.

Major players in the region’s health care system from policymakers, health care providers and insurers to pharmaceutical and technology companies attended the summit to both present on and debate key issues, future health care policy, health care models, pricing, preventative care and innovation. Both PhRMAG, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association, Gulf and Philips sponsored yesterday’s summit.

Yacoub Haddad, Chairman at PhRMAG, commented “We pursue two missions in the GCC, to advance human health and strengthen the innovative medicines sector. This conference has provided an invaluable opportunity to share our vision and partner with policy-makers and colleagues from the health community to improve health and build a globally competitive industry.”

Roy Jakobs, CEO of Philips Middle East and Turkey further commented, “Public-private partnerships are essential to accelerate the implementation of innovations, especially the technological solutions and new business models that can maximize efficiency, and the summit acted as a springboard for these synergies. Through emerging technologies and digital interconnected opportunities, we can develop integrated health care solutions that reshape and optimize the continuum of care.”

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