Expat workforce in Gulf Countries facing challenges

The expat workforce in the Gulf region, especially the labourers who are mostly from India, do not have proper healthcare facilities with the governments there focusing more on local people, according to Dr Azad Moopen, leading non-resident Keralite entrepreneur in health sector.

Speaking about affordability, accessibility and quality healthcare in the Middle East as part of a plenary session at the ongoing Global Healthcare Summit here yesterday, he said the Gulf countries faced a huge challenge in the case of accessibility to health care.

"But things have improved in the past five years through a better insurance mechanism. Governments are taking care of the local people, leaving the healthcare responsibility of expatriates to the private sector through employers," he said.

Pointing that Kerala had a vital connection to healthcare system in the Middle East, Moopen, the Chairman of DM Healthcare, said Keralites alone accounted for 25 per cent of the population in UAE against 12 per cent of the local people.

"There are 1,000 Indian doctors in UAE alone and about 500 doctors in the GCC countries. But now, one big challenge is the lack of trained medical personnel. India used to be the mainstay supplier for long, but now the conditions are competitive as doctors do not go to Gulf for work. In the case of nurses and lab technicians, the pipeline is still better."

Moopen, who has a network of 150 healthcare establishments across the Middle East under Aster and Medcare brands, feels India can learn much from the quality aspect there.

Talking about the global perspective, Dr M S Valiathan suggested that India should adopt lessons from even Bangladesh and Thailand to evolve strategies, especially steps like bulk purchase of generic drugs by the governments.

"Quality healthcare is a reality to the affluent sections, but still a myth to larger sections of the society. Things have changed for the better after 2000 in India through the government interventions," he pointed out.

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