Healthcare spending is expected to rise strongly over the next few years as “non-communicable diseases generally associated with more sedentary lifestyles become more prevalent”, said the report. A rising population due to a large influx of expatriates is also expected to be a contributing factor.
Two companies in Qatar currently focus on medical devices and technology, though this could conceivably rise with demand. Pharmaceutical sales alone in Qatar would rise 7 to 10 percent annually until the end of the decade, according to studies.
Qatar Pharma chairman Ahmed Mohammed Al Sulaiti told OBG that the national health insurance scheme would not only support sales, but also encourage others to invest in the local production of medical devices, equipment, drugs and other products. “Even with the scheme in its early stages, sales and activity in the sector are growing,” he said..
There has been an increase in orders from Hamad Medical Corporation, an indication that the amount of goods being consumed in the healthcare industry is on the rise, according to the official.
With Qatar seeking to move away from its dependence on hydrocarbons for revenues, the government is encouraging investment in sectors like medical devices and technology. It has identified this sector as being ideal for SMEs.
Qatar would be offering intensives to those who enter the sector in the form of tax holidays, funding assistance from Qatar Development Bank and exemptions from export tariffs.
However, the market for medical products is seen as extremely competitive. Big names with established brands are already in the fray as are firms from the emerging markets, which offer products at low prices, according to Qatari German Medical Devices CEO Emre Alnar.
Across the region, imports account for more than 90 percent of pharmaceuticals, equipment and medical devices, with most sourced from the US and Europe. The report said that with Qatar seen as a small market, manufacturers look overseas for sales, with exports accounting for as much as 90 percent of sales of certain products. Saudi Arabia is the preferred destination as it accounts for 60 percent of sales in the GCC region, the report said.