Iraq's pharmaceutical and healthcare market continues to be complicated by a need for investment in infrastructure, a shortage of trained healthcare professionals and a lack of foreign direct investment (FDI). The government is making progress though, for example by recruiting doctors and nurses from overseas and through knowledge-sharing agreements with other nations. However, beyond urban areas, issues such as counterfeit medicines and a lack of healthcare education complicate the provision of care. Fortunately, Iraq is one of the fastest growing economies in the region and as oil revenues climb, so will the government's ability to invest in its healthcare provision.
Headline Expenditure Projections
- Pharmaceuticals: IQD1,326bn (US$1.14bn) in 2012 to IQD1,508bn (US$1.30bn) in 2013; +13.7% in local currency and +14.0% in US dollar terms. Forecast lowered slightly from Q313 on account of macroeconomic trends.
- Healthcare: IQD13,816bn (US$11.86bn) in 2012 to IQD16,382bn (US$14.10bn) in 2013; +18.6% in local currency and +18.9% in US dollar terms. Forecast increased from Q313 because of macroeconomic conditions.
Risk/Reward Rating: Iraq remains at the bottom half of our Middle East and African region pharmaceutical Risk/Reward Ratings (RRR) score for Q413. It fares better on the Rewards side of the equation than in terms of risks. This quarter, it posted a score of 39.9, just below the regional average, placing it 16th out of a total of 30 markets.
Key Trends And Developments
Iraq and India signed four agreements in August 2013, some of which will see the Indian government helping with the reconstruction and improvement of healthcare facilities. One of the agreements also states that the two countries will cooperate on pharmaceuticals.
Greece's TERNA revealed in August 2013 that it had been awarded a US$36.8mn contract to construct a 100-bed hospital in Basra, Iraq. The project is scheduled to be completed by January 2015.
The US government, via USAID, signed a cooperation agreement with the Iraqi Ministry of Health in April 2013, which will see the US support Iraq in its service delivery and management.
BMI Economic View: Even in the face of our recent downgrade - we have lowered our forecast for real GDP growth from 11.2% in 2013 to 10.5% - Iraq continues to be the fastest growing economy in the MENA region.
BMI Political View: Political tension overshadows Iraq, with a spate of bombings in July 2013 carried out by hardline Sunni Islamist militant groups. We expect that violence will continue, as the Sunni minority, which represents approximately 30% of the government, continues to feel sidelined.