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Bahrain could soon turn into ‘specialised health care destination’

Investors have shown growing interest in projects on hair transplant, stem cell banks and alternative medicine, said National Health Regulatory Authority chief executive

Image used for illustrative purpose. Corridor of an empty modern Japanese hospital with Japanese and English signages.Gettyimages.

By Staff Writer, Gulf Daily News

Bahrain could soon turn into a regional hub for specialised health care facilities, according to a top government official.

Investors have shown growing interest in projects on hair transplant, stem cell banks and alternative medicine, said National Health Regulatory Authority (NHRA) chief executive Dr Maryam Al Jalahma.

She also pointed out that the growth of private health care sector in the country has been “phenomenal” with the number of facilities increasing from 500 last year to 800 this year.

“Investments in the private health care segment have definitely been growing – and that too rapidly,” said Dr Al Jalahma.

“The number of health care facilities has gone up from 500 to 800 and we have three drug manufacturing projects in the process.

“This year, we are seeing applications for different types of care unlike previous years where the requests were for general medical centres that are common in Bahrain or multidisciplinary clinics like dermatology, dental or ophthalmology.

“This year we have unique projects that have not been submitted for approval before, like hair transplant, stem cell bank, laboratories for examining quality of drugs and the kind.

“Such projects can turn Bahrain into hub of these specialties, including those of medicines and medical devices which can be later exported to other GCC countries.

“We also have alternative medicine centres – a Thai company has shown an interest in opening a Thai alternative medicine centre in Bahrain, which is something unique.”

Dr Al Jalahma was speaking to the GDN on the sidelines of the BDFEX Health Care Investment Forum, at the Diplomat Radisson Blu Hotel and Spa.

She was the keynote speaker at the two-day event which is the first of its kind in Bahrain jointly organised by Proact International Consultancy and United Gulf Industrial Consortia.

“At the forum we are not talking only about the development of health care facilities but also the support services that these health facilities would need, like waste management, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, catering and medical laundry, among others,” explained Dr Al Jalahma.

“For example, we have a Bahraini physician opening a tele-radiology centre, which reads radiology reports from far.

“In co-operation with Saudi Arabia this centre engages over 70 consultants who will be available 24/7 to read any type of X-rays including MRI images and CT scans.

“There are rare specialties like the brain MRI, and not every facility can afford to have a consultant to read these and such a centre would help the hospitals.”

Meanwhile, the private health care sector in Bahrain has grown rapidly, said senior medic and Noor Specialist Hospital chairwoman Dr Affaf El Shafei.

Bahrain’s first gynaecologist also called for promoting investments in rare specialty centres.

“Everybody is interested in investing in Bahrain due to the easy regulations but we need to focus on higher standards and must open doors to more rare specialties.

“Specialties in critical area should be added to Bahrain’s health sector because these specialties are more difficult to approach and to set up, in terms of expertise and infrastructure.

“From the beginning of the year we have seen investments in the health sector jump at least 50 per cent to 70pc.”

Experts at the forum, being held under the patronage of Supreme Council for Health chairman Dr Shaikh Mohammed bin Abdulla Al Khalifa, will discuss important solutions, ideas and innovations in the health industry in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, and address business gaps and challenges from business and technology point of view.

raji@gdn.com.bh

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