GCC mulls insurance for public health services
Manama, January 10, 2013
GCC residents could soon be forced to use medical insurance for public health services in a bid to prevent the squandering of resources, said a top government minister in Bahrain.
Providing free health services have become difficult amidst international political, financial and social changes that have made the availability of treatment and medication scarce and expensive, Health Minister Dr Sadiq Al Shehabi was quoted as saying in our sister publication, the Gulf Daily News.
"We have to consider that the world is not as it is and offering free health services has become difficult," he said. "A study on how to make health insurance our only choice has to be taken in the near future."
Dr Al Shehabi was speaking last night (January 9) at the opening of the two-day 74th GCC Health Ministers Meeting at the Sofitel Bahrain Zallaq Thalassa Sea and Spa.
The event is being held under theme 'Medical Funding'.
"Various issues have been listed for discussions - ranging from unified medical databases, non-contractive diseases, quality services, patient safety, alternative medicines and having specialised medical centres in each member country," said Dr Al Shehabi.
"Discussions will also focus on combating the spread of malaria, giving more attention to expatriates, restricting smoking and fighting the improper use of steroids.
"We will also look into the possibility of increasing unified medicines and equipment purchases, and alternative funding for health services that are non-governmental."
Omani Health Minister Dr Ahmed Al Saeedi said unifying efforts between GCC countries will improve health standards.
"Awareness is an issue that needs further addressing amongst the public, because with it our governmental spending on treatment and medication can be lowered. The money could instead be spent on vital medical facilities," he said.
"We have to unify standards to ensure that we are offering the best on the same level, within all member states, and this shouldn't stop at a certain point as regular assessment should be carried out to ensure it is in line with advancements and developments."
GCC Secretary-General Dr Abdullatif Al Zayani said GCC efforts to combat epidemics were in advanced stages.
"Dangerous diseases are at their lowest rates in the GCC and this is because a lot of the government's attention goes to providing people with quality healthcare.
"We ensure that they are being given treatments on a regular basis," he explained.
GCC Health Ministers Executive Office director-general Dr Tawfeeq Al Khoja praised efforts by member states to develop services, saying Gulf countries have won numerous international health awards over the years.
"We have won international, European and Arab health awards either as countries or as individuals and this shows that we are advanced in the field and keen on getting in line with the best practices," he said.
"The executive office follows everything closely to ensure that whatever is needed gets fulfilled for better health services."
The event ends today with GCC health ministers passing recommendations and detailing the future plans for the region. – TradeArabia News Service
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