Rethinking Arabian Healthcare in a Post-Pandemic World

The coronavirus outbreak has put healthcare systems across the world under tremendous pressure, exposing shortcomings in service delivery. Twenty[1]eight million elective surgical procedures were cancelled globally in the first half of 2020, causing a huge backlog of around 45 weeks¹. In the Gulf, 262,000 cases had been cancelled by mid-2020², placing a heavy burden on healthcare systems, hospitals, medical staff, first responders and patients.

As governments of the GCC continue to grapple with how to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus, they have taken unprecedented steps to limit the long-term impact of a faster-spreading variant of the virus.

In the United Arab Emirates, over six million people were inoculated by the beginning of March 20213– a figure that constitutes 60% of the population4. Saudi Arabia, which has taken the unprecedented move of suspending Umrah pilgrimages5, launched its vaccination program across 550 clinics in Riyadh, 84 clinics in Jeddah and another 84 in the eastern city of Dhahran6. Other countries in the region, such as Kuwait, offered an electronic vaccination certificate- an “immunity passport” - to those who take the second dose of the vaccine7 and imposed strict social distancing measures, with violators facing heavy penalties, including jail, for breaching safety rules.

Today, the opportunity arises to re-examine health systems to improve quality of care and increase efficiencies in service delivery, with the aim of better protecting populations from the long-term repercussions of the virus.

What lessons have governments in the Gulf learned from the pandemic? How can these learnings be implemented to future proof health systems, in a rapidly changing context?

In an attempt to answer these questions, the Rethinking Arabian Healthcare webinar series engaged with healthcare experts and thought leaders from across the Gulf and beyond8 to re-examine healthcare systems and propose sustainable solutions.