US, India, and China will lead the world with the highest number of completed projects featuring new hospitals next year. But among the top 10 countries, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, and Iraq will boast the most new hospital beds per 100,000 people in 2022.
Tracking each country’s hospital numbers and number of beds per person is an important indicator of the strength of a healthcare system. Many countries’ Covid-19 lockdown decisions are based on the proportion of healthcare resources available against projected hospitalisation rates. Outside of the pandemic, the increase in healthcare infrastructure spending should be at pace with a growing elderly population.
Russia, Brazil, Italy, and Egypt are also in the top 10 list of countries with the most hospital projects set to be completed next year. Using the GlobalData Healthcare Constructions Database, the ranking is based on projects that have brand new hospital builds with inpatient beds and services. Each project includes at least one hospital as certain projects may have more than one. Projects counted for this list have been in the planning and construction stage in the past few years – in many cases before the pandemic hit. The list does not count hospital renovations or upgrades.
Hospital investment driven by need
Saudi Arabia continues to focus investments on its healthcare sector likely due to the country’s growing population and projected longer life expectancy. Its population is expected to reach 39.4 million by 2030, with rapid growth in the 50+ age category. Lifestyle changes due to urbanisation means that there is increased incidence of diseases related to a sedentary lifestyle and unhealthy eating habits such as cardiovascular disease.
As for Malaysia, it is a thriving medical tourism destination, with high-end facilities designed to attract patients from around the world. Private hospitals are usually more coveted than public ones by international patients due to the perception of better care, as well as the specialisation for procedures that attract overseas patients.
While Malaysia’s hospitals sector harbours an overall positive reputation, this took a hit with news reports of resource shortages, including beds, during the pandemic. As the public healthcare system became overwhelmed, the Ministry of Health of Malaysia instructed private hospitals to aid in alleviating the burden from public resources.
Meanwhile, Iraq’s healthcare infrastructure has suffered from sanctions, civil war, and mismanagement, with the pandemic further devastating its healthcare system. Historically, the country suffers from shortage of hospitals with sub-par building infrastructure. On 24 April, a fire erupted in a Covid-19 ward at Baghdad’s Ibn Khatib hospital, which killed at least 82 people. Lack of safety measures was named as a contributing cause. Some three months later, on 12 July, another hospital fire broke out at the Al-Hussein teaching hospital in Nasiriya which killed at least 90 people. Iraqi President Barham Salih blamed both events on corruption and mismanagement.
The Iraqi government is investing in its healthcare infrastructure, with new hospital projects found by GlobalData being publicly funded. The estimated value of the projects to be completed in 2022 is over $800m.
Azadeh Laffafian is a GlobalData healthcare analyst. Graphs by data research specialist Victor Vladev
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