Gulf Cooperation Council
Health Care: Challenges and
MONA MOURSHED, McKinsey & Company
VIKTOR HEDIGER, McKinsey & Company
TOBY LAMBERT, McKinsey & Company
The coming decade will bring significant new challenges
to health care in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries.
These challenges will require new strategies on the part
of government and private health-care players.
Health-care demand in the Gulf Cooperation Council
is undergoing fundamental change
The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries—
Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the
United Arab Emirates—will face an unparalleled and
unprecedented rise in demand for health care over the
course of the next two decades.We estimate that total
health-care spending in the region will reach US$60
billion in 2025, up from US$12 billion today. No other
region in the world faces such rapid growth in demand
with the simultaneous need to realign its health-care
systems to be able to treat the disorders of affluence.
Moreover, although GCC health-care systems are far
better than they were 20 years ago, many residents
remain unsatisfied with the availability and quality of
care at government-run hospitals and clinics. Government
agencies mostly lack the managerial skills needed to run
health-care facilities, and cash incentives alone haven’t
been enough to attract specialists to treat the rising
numbers of people with ailments such as heart disease
Government-run hospitals and clinics are ill prepared
for a rapidly growing and aging population, nor are they
prepared for the rise in chronic diseases such as diabetes,
whose prevalence has grown as countries have developed.
To augment services and raise standards of care, some
GCC governments have already encouraged internationally
renowned academic institutions to set up health-care
facilities in their countries. Many more private health-care
providers are required, however, to meet future demand.
For the most part, GCC governments intend to go
on subsidizing robust medical