Middle East Health Magazine - January/February 2024

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Medacs new office location in Al Salam Tower, Media City.

Growing health workforces in the Middle East

With 18 offices worldwide, Medacs Healthcare is one of the world’s largest clinical staffing groups, currently relocating over 8,000 new international health workers a year into the Middle East, the UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. Rebecca Watson, CEO of Medacs Global Group, explains why health workforces need further growth now, and how their group is investing in the region and expanding their local operation to support their Middle Eastern clients. Why does the Middle East need more health workers? Medacs has been supplying international healthcare talent into Arab nations for over 20 years now and the phenomenal growth we’ve witnessed in the sector in that time is showing no sign of slowing. There are currently over 160 new healthcare projects in the pipeline across the GCC with a combined value of over $50 billion. Thousands of additional physicians, nurses and support staff will be required to staff those, on top of the numbers already needed to continue providing top-class patient care in the region’s existing hospitals and clinics. Investment is partly being driven by the huge new opportunities in medical tourism, with more patients than ever choosing to come to the Middle East for worldleading treatment. Many of the hospital

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groups we work with already require larger workforces to service this rising global demand, as well as the healthcare needs of a growing, and ageing local population. Fast-changing healthcare priorities in the region are also driving new staffing needs, with a recent shift to more preventative and wellness-focused care models. Preventative care models need health workers with different skillsets and experience in chronic disease management, mental health and delivering healthier living programmes. Those professionals are in high demand worldwide right now, so to secure sufficient numbers, recruitment needs to ramp up accordingly. What recruitment challenges do healthcare providers in the Middle East face? Global staffing shortages are by far the


biggest challenge. According to UN research, by 2030 the world will be short of 18 million health workers, and that’s a problem in every single one of the global territories we operate in. The UAE does have a strong advantage, in that it is one of the most attractive places to live and work in the world, but the competition for highly skilled health workers is getting fiercer every day. The Middle East is also heavily dependent on a foreign workforce, which is transient, so new vacancies continually arise as visas expire and expat workers return home. The process of registering and credentialling overseas-trained professionals also takes time, which means it is difficult to recruit rapidly and healthcare providers need to strategically plan their staffing levels well in advance.

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