Kuwait Healthcare Snapshot – 2009

Kuwait’s wealth enabled it to provide free Healthcare to its local residents and collect minimal fees from expats. The Kuwaiti government also sends local citizens abroad for treatment if no applicable resources are available locally. The Healthcare system contributed 1.07% of the G.D.P. in 2008 which is relatively low among the other activities in country’s economy[1], Graph 3. The government of Kuwait spent a total of KWD 598,500,000 on healthcare in 2008/2007 which is a 9% increase from the 2007/2006 amount spent, KWD 547,200,000. On the other hand, the government generated a total of KWD 77,554,000 in 2008/2007 which is an increase in revenue by 74% compared to the previous year, Graph 4[2]. The increase in revenue is correlated with the increase in foreign population which is the main source of revenue.

Graph 4: Kuwait Government Healthcare Revenue and Expenditure comparison- 2006-2008

The Kuwaiti government represented by the Health Ministry currently operates 15 general and specialized hospitals containing approximately 5,500 beds across the country as of 2008. The private sector on the other hand operates 8 hospitals containing approximately 700 beds as of 2008[3].

Government Healthcare Sector

Kuwait government currently operates 15 general and specialized hospitals[4]. As of 2007, the government Healthcare system in Kuwait employed 36,377 employees. The number of medical staff (physicians, dentists, and nurses) is lower than the number of non-medical staff, Graph 4.

Graph 5: Government Healthcare Medical vs. Non-Medical Staff Comparison in Kuwait – 2003-2007

The Healthcare facilities are distributed geographically all over the country to serve all the commercial and residential areas. There is at least one major general hospital in every governorate;

# Governorate Hospital Beds
1 Al Asimah Al Amiri Hospital 374
2 Al Asimah Al Sabah Hospital 438
3 Hawalli Mubarak Al Kabeer Hospital 409
4 Farwaniya Fawaniya Hospital 523
5 Al Ahmadi Al-Adan Hospital 557
6 Al Jahra Al-Jahra Hospital 621
Total Beds 2,922

Table 1: Kuwait General Hospitals – 2007[5]

The government also operates specialized hospitals as exhibited in Table 2 below;

# Hospital Specialization Beds
1 Al-Razi Orthopedic surgery 267
2 Physical Med. & Rehabilitation Physical Med. & Rehabilitation 78
3 Maternity Hospital Maternity 375
4 Chest Diseases Hospital Chest Diseases 131
5 Infectious Diseases Hospital Infectious Diseases 151
6 Psychological Medicine Psychological Medicine 749
7 Ibn Sina Hospital Spinal Surgery 363
8 Kuwait Cancer Control center Cancer Control 112
9 Allergy Center Allergy Center 128
Total Beds 2,354

Table 2: Kuwait Government Specialized Hospitals – 2007[6]

Moreover, The Kuwaiti Government has been increasing the number of clinics consistently to provide the basic healthcare services to the local residential areas; Graph 6.

Graph 6: Government Healthcare Facilities in Kuwait – 2008

The Government has not developed any new major Healthcare facilities since the completion of the above mentioned hospitals leaving the hospitals get more congested with the fast growing population. The Kuwaiti government announced in 2008 Jaber Al Ahmad hospital to be completed in 2013 covering an area 469,370 m². The hospital will include 36 operation rooms and other major facilities that would serve up 600,000 people in the surrounding residential areas. The project since announced has been facing major delays where actual work on site did not start until November of 2009[7].

Private Healthcare Sector

Unlike the government sector, the Private Healthcare Sector has been developing in a much faster pace. New clinics and hospitals have been established and continue to appear in the different areas of Kuwait. A good indication of how well this sector is doing is the number of staff being employed by the different establishments. The private healthcare sector increased its employment share of the market by 11% in 2007 and 34% in 2006.

Graph 7: Total Physicians, Dentists, and Nurses in Private Sector – 2008

The private sector is expected to grow further in the upcoming years. Patients are avoiding the free government healthcare services and are paying a premium for private healthcare due to some of the following reasons;

Criteria Government Healthcare Services Private Healthcare Services
Time Longer waiting time Less/no waiting time
Appointments Patients should schedule many appointments to complete a single treatment Patients can complete their treatments in fewer appointments
Prestige No Prestige Local patients are paying extra for the social status associated with the hospitals visited especially in the Gynecology field

Table 3: Government vs. Private Healthcare Services in Kuwait

The Kuwaiti government has organized the private healthcare establishments based on their size and functionality[8]:

  1. Private Hospitals: the Ministry of Health divides the Private Hospital into two categories;
    1. General Private Hospital: is a private hospital that has a minimum of 60 beds where patients can be admitted for treatment. The General Private Hospital must at least provide all the following medical practices;
      1. i.      Internal Medicine
      2. ii.      General Surgery
      3. iii.      Pediatrics
      4. iv.      Gynecology & Obstetrics
      5. v.      Anesthesiology
  2. Specialized Private Hospital: is a private hospital that has a minimum of 40 beds where patients can be admitted for any specialized medical practices such as Pediatrics, Ophthalmology, E.N.T., etc.
  3. Private Dispensaries: are medical establishments that must at least one of the below mentioned medical practices.
    1. i.      General Practice
    2. ii.      Dentistry
    3. iii.      Medical Labs and Bacteriology
    4. iv.      Radiotherapy
    5. v.      Physiotherapy

The Dispensary should have at least 3 General Practice clinics and no more than 2 specialized clinics. The Manager of the dispensary must be a Kuwaiti General Practitioner with at least 5 years of experience and not retired. The manager is required to be full time employee for the dispensary.

  1. Private Clinics: are one room medical facilities that are managed by a doctor with any medical specialty.  The clinic shall provide waiting areas and an examination room for patients.
  2. Private Healthcare Centers: are medical facilities that can provide all the following practices;
    1. General Surgery
    2. Internal Medicine
    3. General Surgery
    4. Pediatrics
    5. Gynecology & Obstetrics

The license is only given to Kuwaiti doctors with at least 10 years of continual experience. The Healthcare Center should have a minimum of 6 general or specialized clinics. The clinic cannot provide overnight admission.

On a final note, with the rapid increase of the population in Kuwait and the high demand for the free government healthcare services, the private sector can provide and benefit more from such causes. Many factors play into the success of any project including a healthcare facility; selecting the right location, providing good services, studying the market research, and keeping in touch with your client base.

[1] Kuwait Central Statics Authority

[2] Ministry of Health

[3] Ministry of Health

[4] Kuwait Ministry of Health

[5] Kuwait Ministry of Health

[6] Kuwait Ministry of Health

[7] Alqabas Newspaper – 11/5/2009

[8] Ministry of Health – Medical Licensing Department