Global Healthcare Issues: Bahrain


Fraser Clarke

Worldwide a vast range of medical issues affect different parts of the planet to different degrees. Some are global issues, some are regional and some can be specific to a much smaller area.

As a medic looking at taking your career overseas knowing as much as you can about a country’s health issues can be the key behind successfully securing a new job. It can also play a role in helping you to decide where your future could lie.

Here, therefore, is our first of a new series of guides to the major health issues facing the countries we most commonly work with. Starting with the tiny Kingdom of Bahrain.


As is an issue throughout the Gulf region, Bahrain is facing a real battle against obesity. Recent estimates suggest that almost 66% of the country’s population can be classified as overweight. This increases a person's chances of various health conditions - from heart disease (the biggest killer in the country) to skin conditions and even psychiatric illnesses caused by body image concerns.

This trend is replicated throughout the Middle East, with various reasons given for a concerningly large population. Rapid development combined with a lack of education about a healthy lifestyle has undoubtedly played a part, as too has the culture, where refusing food is seen as rude. This combined with a lack of walking and cycling infrastructure has resulted in an unhealthy population, making obesity the biggest single health issue facing the country.

Multiple Sclerosis

In Bahrain MS is an increasingly prevalent condition - especially amongst women. The country’s rate of those suffering from the neurological disorder is 59.9/100,000 people. A report published in 2013 also highlighted that for every 1 man with the condition 2.5 women will develop it. These statistics put Bahrain into the ‘high risk’ category, however as with obesity it is a factor which is replicated throughout the Gulf.

MS affects its sufferers in many different ways. A loss of balance is common, along with a tremor or double vision. Difficulty chewing food, depression and hearing loss can also be signs making it one of the most common, diverse and difficult to treat demyelinating diseases in the world.


Bahrain has a higher rate of anaemia than almost any other country on earth. Research has concluded that roughly 18% of Bahrainis carry the genetically passed down sickle cell anaemia condition, whilst 24% carry Thalassemia an illness which results in abnormal formation of hemoglobin and, as a result, improper oxygen transport around the body.

Sickle-cell anemia rates look to be gradually dropping, with statistics showing that they are only affecting around 31% of live births to Bahraini parents in the country - down 10% on 20 years ago. Thalassemia remains a big issue however, killing roughly 20,000 people worldwide every year.


Unsurprisingly given the obesity figures, diabetes rates in the country are extremely high - the 10th highest in the world at the time of writing. This is an issue throughout most middle eastern countries and so if you are moving to the region be prepared to work with a greater than usual number of people suffering from the condition, as it affects roughly 1 in every 10 Bahrainis.

Respiratory Diseases

A range of factors and issues in Bahrain have lead to a large number of deaths being related to respiratory diseases. Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) is still an issue in the country, albeit at a far lower rate than it was before. Smoking rates remain relatively high however and this, combined with often un-healthier working environments, can make the prevalence of conditions like COPD and Lung Cancer unsurprising.

Bahrain is becoming an ever more popular country with Western trained medics seeking a more rewarding career overseas. The country benefits from a relaxed island mentality, and is one of the most liberal in the Gulf meaning that it shouldn’t take too long to adapt to a move.

If taking your skills to one of the Middle East’s smallest locations is something which would appeal to you, register on our website for job alerts - and start your journey today.

Start your journey today by registering on our website.