As the region accelerates towards construction of healthcare infrastructure to improve access of care, the demand for medical professionals’ scales exponentially, with KSA requiring some 175,000 medical professionals by 2030.
Moreover, the demand will scale higher, as currently around 232,000 medical staff are expatriates and the majority of these jobs will have to be filled by Saudi nationals to meet the nation’s Saudisation goals, says Colliers Healthcare & Education division’s market intelligence report.
In the UAE, estimates show that there will be a gap of around 11,000 nurses and 5,000 allied health professionals in Abu Dhabi, and around 6,000 physicians and 11,000 nurses in Dubai by 2030. In Egypt, around 48,000 new healthcare staff will be required.
Physician and nurse density
Physician and nurse density in the UAE and KSA per 1,000 population is higher than the GCC countries’ average, however, it is significantly lower than international benchmarks with developed healthcare systems.
Egypt has one of the Middle East’s lowest ratios of healthcare workers per capita. Whilst a large number of physicians graduate from Egypt, the number of physicians practicing in the country is very low due to the brain drain of high-quality doctors to the GCC and the Western countries.
Looking at KSA in depth the report said due to the increase in population, which is expected to reach 45 million by 2023, and the requirement for new healthcare facilities, an additional 26,000 to 43,000 beds will be required.
The demand will be even higher as a part of Saudisation drive in the healthcare sector where the majority of these jobs must be filled by Saudi Nationals. At present, 60% of doctors (including dentists), 57% of nurses, 19% of AHPs and 61% of the pharmacists, which total to around 232,000 medical professionals, are expatriates.
Furthermore, as the kingdom embarks in the adoption of new medical technologies resulting in demand moving from traditional courses to advanced medical education. Artificial intelligence (AI), data analytics, robotic medical sciences, genome sequences and short courses to enhance the skillset of doctors, registered nurses (RN) and AHPs to be able to opt for specialised positions; all of which will require additional facilities.
Despite the fact that a remarkable increase took place in the number of healthcare workforce in the UAE, there is still a shortage in availability of trained physicians/nurses, particularly local professionals. The gaps in the workforce do not only pertain to doctors but also to nurses and other paramedical staff who make up the bulk of health workforce.
Physician and nurse density in UAE at 2.9 and 6.4 per 1,000 population respectively is higher than the GCC countries’ average, however, it is significantly lower than international benchmarks with developed healthcare system. Also, there is an imbalance in the distribution of doctors and nurses within the UAE with Abu Dhabi having the highest ratio of doctors and nurses to population.
In Egypt due to the increase in population which is expected to reach 115 million by 2030, and the requirement for new healthcare facilities, an additional 13,600 beds will be required. There will be additional demand for doctors, nurses, pharmacists and dentists
The demand for healthcare workers to meet the growing population is increasing; along with the launch of the Universal Healthcare Insurance (UHI) which is initiating the increase of beds per population to increase the accessibility of healthcare services.
The quickly maturing healthcare market in Egypt is gaining momentum but still has a way to go to close the bed-shortage gap and manage the increase of non-communicable diseases. The demand drivers of an aging population, bed-shortage and increase of diseases in the population are driving great demand for quality, healthcare and hospital centres in general.
Advanced medical education
Mansoor Ahmed, Executive Director of Head of Development Solutions, Healthcare, Education and PPP, MEA region at Colliers says: “As a result of the ongoing transition in the region towards the adoption of new medical technologies, the demand is shifting from traditional skill sets to advanced medical education.
“In addition to the increasing demand to cater new healthcare facilities, the emergence of Artificial intelligence (AI), data analytics, robotic sciences, genome sequences require the medical workforce to persistently enhance their skill set in order to be able to opt for specialised positions, resulting in demand for more medical education institutions.
“Moreover, there is a growing tendency to create clinical pathways and affiliations with international medical schools to keep abreast with the latest innovations in the medical/education sector; in addition to offering dual degrees/certificates with international medical institutions which opens doors for local staff to practice and migrate to international markets as result of shortage of medical staff across the globe.”-- TradeArabia News Service