BMI View: Iraq's healthcare and pharmaceuticals market has suffered from a lack of investment and the impact of war - much of the infrastructure is outdated; hospitals, clinics and pharmacies lack trained personnel; and the health insurance sector is immature and can offer the government little in terms of income. Other issues, such as continued security risks, also remain, holding back development and deterring multinationals. The government is taking steps to modernise healthcare facilities, however, and a combination of agreements with other governments (attracted by Iraq's natural resources), NGOs and public spending is funding new developments. There are several new hospital projects in the pipeline, and the government has also expressed plans to restructure and privatise state-owned enterprises - which has caught the interest of potential investors. Iraq's regulatory framework also needs strengthening, as, in its current state, there is little distinction between prescription and OTC drugs, while counterfeit medicines are rife.
Headline Expenditure Projections
- Pharmaceuticals: IQD1,328bn (US$1.14mn) in 2012 to IQD1,545bn (US$1.33bn) in 2013; +16.4% in local currency and +16.7% in US dollar terms. Forecast lowered from Q113 on account of new import data.
- Healthcare: IQD11,255bn (US$9.66bn) in 2012 to IQD13,311bn (US$11.45bn) in 2013; +18.3% in local currency and +18.6% in US dollar terms. Forecast increased from Q113 because of an expected rise in healthcare capital expenditure.
Risk/Reward Rating: Iraq's Pharmaceutical Risk/Reward Rating (RRR) score for Q213 is unchanged from the previous quarter. This is also the case for all other countries in BMI's proprietary system that ranks pharmaceutical markets according to attractiveness to multinational drugmakers. A minor re-weighting of one of the RRR components is being implemented to improve the tool, and the adjusted scores for all markets will be published in the Q313 updates of the Pharmaceuticals & Healthcare reports. Iraq has a RRR score of 46.7 out of 100, making it the 13th most attractive pharmaceutical market in the Middle East and African region.
Key Trends And Developments
In February 2013, Iraq's government announced that construction work had begun on a US$350mn medical city in Baghdad. Built on the site of the former Rasheed hospital, the medical city will have 1,200 beds and add new specialisations, such as neurological disorders, to Iraq's healthcare sector.
Egypt and Iraq agreed in March 2013 to form a joint business council that will see increased economic ties between the two countries. Iraq is keen for Egyptian firms to invest in major infrastructure projects in the country - including the construction of hospitals.
Cancer is becoming a growing burden on Iraq's healthcare system, with a Norwegian-funded investigation undertaken by a Dutch NGO estimating that some US$30mn is required to clear Iraq of depleted uranium - left over from the US invasion and occupation. Iraq's Ministry of Health has linked a rise in cancer cases to exposure to depleted uranium.
BMI Economic View: We forecast that Iraq's economy will grow by 11.5% in 2013, and 14.9% in 2014. While hydrocarbon exports will continue to keep the economy afloat, high levels of unemployment will keep a lid on private consumption.
BMI Political View: Tensions continue between the Iraqi central government and the Kurdistan Regional Government, and these security risks overshadow developments elsewhere, and will deter potential investors. While public sector wages are expected to increase - which will be good news for ensuring political stability - high levels of unemployment in other areas remain a concern.