Alkhalifa Society of America to observe that

Alkhalifa took over Bahrain with the strong hold in 1971 and since then the country has risen to maximum potential in terms of economy, global power and many more. Likewise one of the many things which came to attention was how the health of the Bahraini locals became better. Since Alkhalifa took charge, they have welcomed many new hospitals equaling the standard of the international hospitals. The new technology in treating the patients has obviously increased the life expectancy of the people living in the country.

With the easy access to high quality medicine or vaccines the public feels much more safe and confident when fighting the disease. Meanwhile, childhood infectious diseases have been largely eradicated in the kingdom, with the country having had effective immunization programs in place since the 1980s. For example, the Expanded Programs on Immunization was created in 1981, and it was followed by the introduction of a second dose of measles vaccine in 1985. This program led the Infectious Diseases Society of America to observe that measles cases had been significantly reduced to 2.7 cases per 1m people as of 2009. Ministry of Health expenditure, including for health care related projects, was BD274.4m ($727.8m) in 2014, up from BD256m ($679m) in 2013 and BD232.

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1m ($615.6m) in 2012. Meanwhile, the budgetary allocation for health care rose slightly year-on-year (y-o-y), from 7.6% of the total government budget to 7.

7%. According to official figures, the Ministry of Health annual budget per capital was BD208.7 ($553.6m) in 2014, up from BD204.3m ($541.

9m) in 2013, having risen steadily from BD159.7m ($423.6m) in 2010. Bahrain leads the region in health care expenditure as a percentage of GDP, at 4.

6%, versus 3.7% in Saudi Arabia and 3.3% in both Kuwait and the UAE. According to a 2016 investment report by professional services firm EY on the health care and life sciences sectors across the GCC, the Bahraini government’s share of health care spending came to 70% in 2014, which is expected to drop to 66% by 2024.

The reliance on government spending in Bahrain is cause for concern; in countries like the US and Singapore government spending on health care comes to just 47% and 41% of total expenditure, respectively. The Ministry of Health oversees Bahrain’s network of public hospitals, clinics and specialized health care centers that form the basis of the health system in the kingdom. Meanwhile the National Health Regulatory Authority (NHRA), made into a separate body in 2009, is responsible for inspecting public and private health care facilities, licensing medicines and medical personnel, as well as addressing complaints. In 2012 Bahrain established the Supreme Council for Health, which is charged with strategic planning with the aim of making each public sector hospital in Bahrain autonomous, while giving patients more choice when it comes to their own treatment and care.

Bahrain’s public health care system is free at the point of use for nationals and open to expatriates for a nominal charge. Like many countries in the Gulf region, Bahrain has been pushing hard in recent years for a greater number of Bahraini doctors and nurses to be employed in the system, which has had strong results. “Nurses in Bahrain are 50% Bahraini,” Al Manea told OBG. “If you compare that to other GCC countries the highest level is Oman, with about 60%. We have a strategy that worked for us.

Some 60-70% of physicians are Bahraini. This is a tremendous asset for us.” Much of the focus for medical tourism is centered on the Dilmunia Health Island, which is being developed by Ithmaar Bank, a Bahraini Islamic finance institution. The mixed-use project, built on a man-made island off of the coast of Muharraq, is expected to see investments of $1.

6bn, with the development featuring residential properties, three boutique hotel and leisure facilities, all based around a 165,000-sq-metre health and wellness cluster offering alternative therapies, rehabilitation services and other treatments. However, progress has been slow, with the master plan for development only finalized in 2015 and little visible progress made in regards to developers for aspects of the project. “Medical tourism is a big opportunity, but maybe we are not yet ready enough for it,” said Al Manea. “We have primary care facilities and a limited number of secondary facilities, but not any tertiary.

Because of that, we are not ready now. The good thing about Bahrain is that the country is very strategic for tourism in general, not just medical tourism. It is one of top tourism destinations in Arab world.”


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