Following the success of Global Healthcare Issues we’re pleased to bring you part five in our exclusive new series - Global Healthcare Sectors.
In this series we will guide you through the structure behind the healthcare sectors we most frequently deal with. We’ll look at the private and public sectors, what positions are especially in demand, the funding models, and how to go about successfully securing a move.
In part five we’ll look at one of the Gulf’s earliest success stories. A country that started the trend that was followed by the UAE, Qatar and Bahrain in attracting foreign investment, before falling on tougher times - Kuwait.
The country may have gradually fallen behind its neighbours in its desirability, however that is changing. Investment is once again being lavished on the healthcare sector, and the country can offer some of the most attractive salaries for medics from anywhere in the world.
Where am I likely to work?
Kuwait is a small country, just over 17,000km² making it similar in size to Tonga, and considerably smaller than Slovenia. As a result the majority of the population live near the capital, Kuwait City, and this is where the most prestigious hospitals are based.
It is highly likely therefore that this is where you’ll work, whilst living relatively nearby in a suburb of the City. Unlike Saudi Arabia and The UAE compound living isn’t common in Kuwait, making a move far more immersive than it can be elsewhere.
Mubarak Al-Kabeer is considered the most prestigious place in the country to live, with it being home to some stunning homes on large plots of land. Costs match the prestige however, putting it outwith the reach of many.
As well as this there are a range of communities within easy reach of the international schools and facilities the country has to offer. Try and do your research first, mainly by asking potential employers about a housing allowance, and where they would recommend staying.
What Sector will I be working in?
Kuwait’s public sector is relatively small, and free at the point of need for Kuwaiti nationals - a group who make up just 30% of the country’s 4 million strong population. Healthcare segregation has been a highly contentious issue in recent times, with work now underway on three brand new, exclusive expat only hospitals in the country. Working in these looks like a good option, with the private sector also expanding to deal with the competition.
Whatever sector you elect to work in the quality of care will be high. Kuwait is renowned worldwide for the high standard of healthcare it provides, with strong infrastructure and a predominantly wealthy population demanding a Western-esque service.
How Generous is Healthcare Spending?
Healthcare spending in Kuwait has soared in recent years, with the building of the expat hospitals combining with the opening of the new 1200 bed, Kuwaiti national exclusive, Jaber Hospital. The world’s sixth largest.
Technology is modern, and the high prices of private healthcare - as a result of the higher than average salaries - have resulted in both sectors being well funded and financially secure.
One of the main factors that people give for moving abroad - and particularly moving to the Middle East - is the financial benefits relocating can bring.
As with most similar countries there is no formal income tax and so all of your earnings will be entirely tax free. This, combined with potential incentives from your employer, can make Kuwait an extremely financially rewarding place to call home.
Your salary will be dependent on the hospital you are working at, the experience you have and the demand for treatment within that hospital, however most facilities will pay salaries akin to those provided in neighbouring countries. This, tax free income, is combined with various other incentives to make the move more appealing.
Fully furnished accommodation or an allowance to cover the cost of housing is usually provided, along with flights to and from the country, 30 days paid leave, up to 14 days study leave, health insurance for yourself and your family and incentive schemes to help boost your income further. All of this can combine to make a move to Kuwait a very rewarding financial opportunity.
What Will I Need?
There can be serious competition for medical roles in the country, however it is less popular than the UAE and Qatar. Nevertheless you will need a high standard of Western qualification (with British, American, Canadian or German the most sought after).
As well as this most private hospitals and clinics will request that you have your CCT as well as up to date qualifications in your specialist area. Five years of experience is normally the minimum accepted, although this can be flexible depending on the vacancy, whilst hospitals like medics who have stayed in a role for more than a few years. This can make it difficult for someone who has worked as a locum frequently to secure employment.
Knowledge of Arabic is essential for working with the Kuwaiti nationals, however in a private facility English and another European language (such as French or German) will help a lot. Experience in neighbouring Gulf locations would also be considered a further boost.
Who is Especially in Demand?
With Kuwait opening a number of new facilities in the coming months and years, all specialities are likely to be in demand. Emergency Medicine specialists are likely to be particularly sought after however as a result of the high number of road accidents, whilst endocrinologists and podiatrists are likely to be needed in greater numbers due to the country’s high diabetes rates.