MENA vs OECD Nations: A Comparison of the Healthcare Expenditure

11 Mar 2019   |  Saudi

saudi healthcare expenditure

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is facing some pressures in the healthcare sector. In comparison with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) nations, there has been a salient difference between the countries from the two regions in their healthcare ecosystem. To better justify this condition, this graph below shows how top MENA countries are performing against the top OECD countries in term of healthcare expenditure.

In the MENA region, Qatar, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia are representing the top four countries with the highest healthcare expenditures. Qatar leads the MENA region with its USD 2,043 healthcare expenditure per capita, followed by Bahrain with USD 1,067, UAE with USD 1,569, and Saudi Arabia with USD 808. Despite having the lowest healthcare expenditure among the four countries, Saudi Arabia has more than doubled the percentage of healthcare expenditure to GDP compared to Qatar itself. In term of the health average, the Gulf Region has the life expectancy of 72 years, 6.9% average incidence of diabetes, and 30% of the average mortality rate of CVD.

Relative to the healthcare expenditure in the MENA regions, OECD nations, represented by the United States, Canada, and Germany are outnumbering the Gulf regions with the staggering difference in their numbers. Germany ranks the lowest in term of healthcare expenditure per capita as well as healthcare expenditure as a percentage of GDP compared to the other two countries. Yet, there is only a small amount of margin between Germany and Canada, with only less than USD 1,000 difference in their healthcare expenditure. In spite of its lowest number, Germany’s number is still much bigger than Qatar, the leading country in the Gulf region.

This is proved by the margin in the healthcare expenditure per capita between the two countries, exceeding the amount of USD 4,000. The difference is even more apparent when the two leading countries in each region are compared. As the leading country among other OECD countries, the United States invests more than 11 times in healthcare expenditure compared to the amount of Qatar’s expenditure. The fact that Qatar is falling behind other OECD nations shows an even stronger reason for MENA regions to improve their healthcare expenditure.

For the most part, MENA regions have a lot to catch up to the OECD nations. The higher number of OECD countries’ healthcare expenditure can be attributed to the longer life expectancy as well as a lower incidence rate of disease in mortality. Meanwhile, in the MENA regions, a higher percentage of the incidence of diabetes and mortality rate coupled with lower average life expectancy is a reflection of the relatively low healthcare expenditure. Other than that, MENA regions are also facing another challenge in the healthcare sector with its growing population and the rising incidence of lifestyle diseases. Low penetration of healthcare insurance and the low levels of private healthcare involvement also serve as another hurdle to conquer for a better healthcare ecosystem in MENA regions.

Learn more about Saudi Arabia’s healthcare system here:

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