Kuwait's healthcare market is in the midst of change. The government is keen for the private sector to play a greater role in healthcare provision, and it created the Kuwait Health Assurance Company in 2011 to speed up reforms. Once fully operational, by 2015, this company will be the primary healthcare provider for the country's sizeable expatriate population. The government is also trialling - controversially - separating appointment times at hospitals for nationals and foreigners. While nationals have the potential for improved access to healthcare, foreigners may see the quality of healthcare decline. As a small country, opportunities for healthcare providers and pharmaceutical firms are limited. But on the upside, there is demand for modern, innovative drugs and treatments in the country and a strong regulatory framework in place. As such, we forecast double-digit growth in the healthcare market over the course of our five-year forecast period.
Headline Expenditure Projections
- Pharmaceuticals: KWD301mn (US$1.07bn) in 2012 to KWD339mn (US$1.21bn) in 2013; +12.7% in local currency terms and +12.2% in US dollar terms. Forecast raised slightly from Q313.
- Healthcare: KWD1.36bn (US$4.86bn) in 2012 to KWD1.52bn (US$5.41bn) in 2013; +11.8% in local currency terms and +11.3% in US dollar terms. Forecast raised from Q313.
Kuwait scored 58 in BMI's Pharmaceutical Risk/Reward Rating (RRR) for Q413; its score remains unchanged from Q313. It stands in third place in our regional rankings, out of a total of 30 markets.
Key Trends And Developments
Following a failed tender in 2011 - it attracted just one bid - the Kuwaiti authorities launched a second tender for private participation in the Kuwait Health Assurance Company, a part-state-owned entity that aims to accelerate the roll-out of private healthcare provision in the country. According to media reports, several firms had submitted bids by July 2013.
In a six-month trial launched in June 2013, the Ministry of Health introduced separate visiting times for Kuwaiti nationals and expatriates in public health centres. Under the new regulations, Kuwaiti nationals have access to state hospitals in the mornings, while expatriates (which account for around two-thirds of the population) can only make appointments in the afternoon. The trial, which is running at Jahra hospital, is expected to be expanded to all healthcare facilities.
In August 2013, Kuwait's Ministry of Health announced plans to conduct a nationwide survey on noncommunicable diseases in the country, in collaboration with the World Health Organization.
BMI Economic View: In July 2013, Kuwait's government released its budget for 2013-2014.Total expenditure is forecast at KWD21.06bn (US$73.7bn); over 90% of this figure will be generated from oil revenues. We forecast that full-year real GDP growth will stand at 3.0% in 2013, falling slightly to 2.6% in 2014. Robust private consumption and a modest rise in oil production and exports will help drive this growth.
BMI Political View: Parliamentary elections held in late July 2013 led to a reshuffling of the government and a more balanced assembly. Sheikh Jaber al-Mubarak al Sabah was appointed prime minister in August 2013, and the new government is likely to continue efforts to improve Kuwait's business environment and make progress on long-term infrastructure spending.