This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.
Under Kuwait’s $104 billion National Development Plan, major upgrades to the country’s healthcare infrastructure and facilities have started and more are underway. High rates of obesity, diabetes, and cancer continue to be increasingly prevalent among the Kuwaiti population, with a need for high-quality specialty care expected to grow in the coming years.
Kuwait’s public healthcare sector accounts for more than 80% of the healthcare spending in country. Currently, Kuwait’s Ministry of Health is the owner, operator, regulator, and financer of the vast majority of healthcare services rendered, pharmaceuticals purchased, and medical equipment acquired in the country. The government operates 28 general and specialized hospitals. The private sector is expected to grow moderately in the coming years, with private firms estimated to account for 15-20% of healthcare spending.
Kuwait aspires to create world-class healthcare providers as well as to improve the quality of healthcare in treatment centers, such as the Kuwait Cancer Center, the Kuwait Chest Disease Hospital, the Kuwait Radiology Center, the Ibn-Sina Center for Ophthalmology, and the Dasman Research Center for Diabetes.
The Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Public Works announced a $4.42 billion (KD 1.250 billion) project to replace or expand nine operating hospitals (five general and four specialized hospitals) within the next ten years. The goal is to add 5,400 beds, 150 operating rooms, and 500 outpatient clinics to the current 7,095 hospital beds countrywide.
According to MEED Projects, from 2016 to 2021, Kuwait completed 13 healthcare public sector projects worth $4.6 billion. Another nine public sector projects worth $5.3 billion are in the execution phase, while another four projects are in the design phase, and three projects are in the study phase, worth $1.5 billion and $3.8 billion, respectively. Examples of the recent completed public sector projects include the $1.1 billion (KD 304 million) Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah Hospital, which was inaugurated in 2020 as a COVID-19 emergency hospital, and the $1.1 billion New Jahra Hospital, which is expected to be fully operational in the coming months. These two hospitals will add 2,402 beds. Currently, Kuwait has two hospital beds per 1,000 people. This represents a stark undersupply in the face of population growth and the rising disease burden.
The country has a well-established primary care network of more than 100 (polyclinics) distributed within Kuwait’s six governates (Ahmadi, Al-Asimah, Farwaniya, Hawalli, Jahra, and Mubarak Al-Kabeer).
According to the Ministry of Health, the private sector will be instrumental in the overall development of the medical sector. The private healthcare market is estimated to grow by 15-20% in the coming years. Currently, a total of 16 private hospitals (totaling about 1200 hospital beds) provide private medical services in Kuwait. Several new private hospitals are expected to open in the next few years, adding 1,800 hospital beds. Although the government offers free healthcare services, patients are willing to pay a premium for private treatment to reduce waiting times and treatment schedules. Private hospitals also serve Kuwait’s sizeable expat population. In certain fields, such as obstetrics and gynecology, local patients pay a premium for high-end services offered by private hospitals.
The healthcare sector is going through some reforms including broadening public-private partnerships and giving the private sector a larger role in the provision of healthcare services. The Health Assurance Hospitals Company (DHAMAN) initiative already established two health clinics on a public-private partnership basis. In addition, a $600 million project to build two 600- bed capacity hospitals is currently under construction. Recently, public healthcare centers began referring patients to private medical care providers for services like IVF treatment and physiotherapy
The government of Kuwait launched the Afiya insurance program in 2016, a health insurance policy for Kuwaiti retirees, covering more than 110,000 individuals, securing access to generous coverage at private hospitals and clinics in Kuwait – in addition to their existing coverage at the public health system. Such soaring healthcare spending reflects the government’s priority to improve the quality of life for both citizens and expatriates, as well as to treat more Kuwaiti patients in-country. Currently, Kuwait sends thousands of patients abroad for treatment each year at a high cost.
- Medical-dental-lab equipment
- General hospital supplies
- Pharmaceutical products and specialized systems and applications
- Laser-treatment, nanotechnology and molecular medicine
- Laboratory testing, testing equipment, and disposable tests
- Surgical instruments, diagnostic or laboratory equipment in the fields of orthopedics, trauma care, ophthalmology, cardiology, oncology, radiology or radiotherapy, and healthcare information
Opportunities for U.S. companies include a broad range of healthcare-oriented technology and services, including medical equipment; hospital supplies, products, and services, and specialized digital applications. Quality control is now enforced at an increased level. It is estimated that 15,000 healthcare professionals will be needed in the public sector alone in the coming years.
Earlier this year, the Ministry of Health created a new position called the Assistant Undersecretary for Digital Health Affairs. The aim is position Kuwait to digitize many of its healthcare systems and workflows. Much of the care coordination and billing in public hospitals are done and paper which leads to inaccuracies and delays in processing times. U.S companies can support these digitization efforts.
Interested companies should be prepared and have completed the regulatory formalities in order to pursue business opportunities once they are announced.
For additional information on medical and surgical equipment, please contact Commercial Specialist Yousif Almahdi at Yousif.Almahdi@trade.gov.