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Health costs forecast to soar with population

The country's growing population will lead to a double-digit increase in healthcare spending and a greater role for the private sector by 2012.

DUBAI // The country's growing population will lead to a double-digit increase in healthcare spending and a greater role for the private sector by 2012, according to a report by a global research group. The report, presented by RNCOS, a marketing research and industrial analysis company based in India, also maintained that the UAE needed to improve medical services and add hospital beds. Spending is expected to increase by 13 per cent over 2007, it said.

The Government accounted for about 70 per cent of healthcare spending in 2007, the report said, but the private sector is expected to play a more active role as pressure on government funds increases. One reason for the rise in spending would be to fight diabetes and heart-related diseases, the report said. "According to our research, there will be an increase in lifestyle diseases in the UAE, with the rate of diabetes likely to increase by 15 per cent every year," said Shushmul Maheshwari, the chief executive of RNCOS.

"Heart-related diseases are also a major concern. If this is the growth in rate of diseases, then there must be infrastructure in place to combat it." The UAE had emerged as a leader in the healthcare market compared with other Middle Eastern countries, the report said, but the Emirates still needed to build more internationally accredited facilities. The report said there were fewer than two hospital beds per 1,000 people, lower than the internationally accepted ratio of four beds per 1,000.

The number of institutions involved in health services in the UAE is expected to increase with the opening of new hospitals and clinics. More than Dh27.5 billion (US$7.5bn) has been invested in the Dubai Healthcare City development, which is scheduled for completion in 2010. Emaar Healthcare Group recently opened the Dubai Mall Medical Centre and plans to open more clinics in the Meadows and Arabian Ranches.

By 2012, the UAE is expected to have increased investment in medical equipment by 11 per cent over 2007, the report said. dunnikrishnan@thenational.ae

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