Healthcare Challenges in the Gulf Region


Fraser Clarke

Healthcare in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region is continuing to grow, as the sector faces up to a range of new challenges.

The GCC is made up of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and The UAE - with all six countries experiencing similar healthcare issues as a result of their rapid growth over the last 40 years.

Populations throughout the Gulf region have risen (and are continuing to rise) at an incredible rate, with a growth rate of around 4% vastly exceeding the world’s average of 1.2%. This growth is putting an increasingly high demand on the healthcare sector, however it is also providing plenty of opportunities for new facilities to open creating new roles for those in the industry.

Whilst the population has risen, it has also aged noticeably. Many of the early immigrants moving to take advantage of the region’s newfound oil wealth now find themselves over the age of 65 - with 80% of health issues in a person’s life coming after that milestone birthday.

As well as this the life expectancy throughout the region has risen from just over 60 years to 74 since the 1970s. Whilst this impressive figure is testament to the rise in the quality of healthcare, it does leave the sector with more age related conditions to deal with.

By far the biggest issue throughout the Gulf however is the rapid growth in lifestyle related conditions throughout the region. This is a common trend in locations where the average earnings have increased, but is a particular issue in the Middle East where attitudes towards food and exercise are unique.

This has lead to the region battling obesity - with Qatar considered the world’s fattest country. Obesity has many related health conditions, with diabetes and heart conditions far more prevalent in the GCC region than almost anywhere else on earth.

Working in the Gulf has many benefits. The region has some of the world’s best facilities and offers high, tax free, salaries alongside luxurious lifestyles. If a move to any of the GCC locations is something that would appeal to you then we can help.

Odyssey have an unrivalled network of contacts throughout the area, as well as a team who have visited many of the facilities we work with. To start your journey to a more rewarding career today simply register on our website.

Dubai 30 Days without Sugar

Dubai’s Healthcare Authority (the DHA) is challenging people within the Emirate to go for 30 days without sugar - in an attempt to lower the increasingly high levels of lifestyle related health issues in the country.

The campaign, which has been backed by many of the DHA’s doctors, has been promoted on social media with a range of adverts, as well as the use of #30DaysWithoutSugar.

Lifestyle related diseases are continuing to rise throughout the Gulf region, with those linked to the excessive consumption of refined sugars like diabetes being particularly prevalent issues. Despite falling slightly in the last 4 years it is estimated that around 12% of the native population in the Emirate currently have the condition.

The DHA have been keen to stress the difference between natural and refined sugars to the population, in order to better educate the public about what they should and should not consume.

Refined sugar is processed to make it as sweet as possible, and this is found in sugary treats, soft drinks, and even more savoury items like tomato sauce. Natural sugars which are found in fruits and dairy products are far less damaging - and so the campaign is focusing on encouraging people to switch to these during the 30 day period.

According to a poll conducted by the health authority, over 40% of people would be willing to try cutting their sugar intakes for the month, with only 29% saying that they wouldn’t even consider taking part. This figure shows a promising willingness from the population to change their attitudes towards the everyday factors affecting their long-term health.

Whilst the ‘30 Days Without Sugar’ campaign is a relatively minor one, it is hoped that it will help to raise awareness of the damage that excessively consuming refined sugar can do to an individual. The positive reaction to the scheme shows that people in the UAE are prepared to work on improving their diets and, with the introduction of mandatory health insurance, the potential for higher premiums for those with lifestyle related conditions could convince many to change their ways.

The United Arab Emirates has been attracting highly skilled Western trained healthcare workers for over two decades now. During that time the healthcare sector has grown exponentially meaning that it is now recognised as one of the world’s strongest and most successful.

If a move to anywhere in the UAE or Gulf region appeals to you then register on our website for job alerts - and make 2017 the year you make a dream career and life enhancing move a reality.

Start your journey today by registering on our website.