Current Issue


Spending on health care to increase

The Kuwaiti Government has initiated a far-reaching plan to reform and redevelop its public healthcare infrastructure with the building of a number of new hospitals across the country, and the implementation of a system to finance public healthcare. In the next year alone, the Ministry of Health will spend more than US$3 billion on the new projects, and you can bone up on the scope and structure of the plan on page 68.

It has been more than a decade – and only the second time in the history of the United Nations – that a global health issue has been placed on the agenda of the General Assembly. In September, this august body met to discuss the vital issue of non-communicable diseases. That the topic was discussed, and a declaration agreed at this level, are clear signs of the importance world leaders are placing on reducing the burden to society and the negative economic impact of cardiovascular disease, cancers and diabetes. However, whether calls for global collaboration and other initiatives to combat NCDs will actually make much of an impact remains to be seen. Read the report from the two-day meeting on page 32, and let us know what you think.

Another far-reaching topic covered in this issue is how telemedicine is increasingly important in clinical medicine, with major benefits for both physicians and patients. For example, it is enhancing equity of access to healthcare by linking remote clinical facilities to specialist centres, so that patients in outlying areas can have easier and better access to specialist consultation and care. It is also being used more frequently in medical education to enable students and doctors to “virtually” attend surgeries, lectures, seminars and share information. Telemedicine will certainly be a hot topic at the Arab Health expo in January, and you can see our report inside on page 46.

Germany is Europe’s biggest economy and the healthcare sector is no small part of this. Middle East Health provides an overview of the country’s healthcare industry and the ‘Made in Germany’ brand, and notes that even though the industry is doing well in these difficult economic times, the demand for German products is expected to grow even further in the near future.

Some interesting regional developments have made the news recently. Pfizer announced they will build a large pharmaceutical manufacturing plant in Saudi Arabia, a great vote of confidence in the Kingdom. There will soon be a new head of WHO’s Eastern Mediterranean Regional Office, as Dr Alaa Alwan from Iraq is set to take over from Dr Hussein Gezairy once the WHO Executive Board endorses the change at a meeting in January. Stories from troubled Sana’a say that the city’s hospitals are struggling to cope with the escalating number of victims of the violence against protesters supporting the popular uprising. And, in a new report, the WHO is calling on countries to increase their resources for mental health care, saying that while as many as one in four people will require mental health care, often only 2% of healthcare resources are used for such services.

Good health and good reading

Brian Wilkie

(Nov-Dec 2011)

Supplement - "North American Hospitals" (PDF 3.3 MB)


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