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Many in Mideast want healthcare abroad

Aug. 10, 2012 at 2:02 AM

WASHINGTON, Aug. 10 (UPI) -- Most Kuwaitis say they would prefer to receive medical care abroad and many people in neighboring countries would as well, a survey indicates.

Gallup surveys show that most residents of nations comprising the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf said they were satisfied with the availability of quality healthcare in their area, but outbound medical care remains an expensive problem for the Persian Gulf governments.

The United Arab Emirates alone spends $2 billion per year to send its residents abroad for treatments, Gallup officials said.

Patients may choose to travel abroad because of poor quality of care or the unavailability of some medical specialties such as oncology.

The survey found 65 percent of those in Kuwaiti said they would prefer to seek medical treatment outside of the country, followed by: 47 percent of those in Bahrain, 43 percent in Oman, 43 percent in Qatar, 39 UAE and 35 percent in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia has scheduled to allot $73 billion to build hospitals and healthcare centers from 2010 to 2014, while the government of Abu Dhabi is working with the Cleveland Clinic to improve healthcare conditions within the country, Gallup said.

The survey findings were based on face-to-face and telephone interviews with among 495 and 897 GCC nationals, age 15 and older, in 2011 and 2012. The margin of error ranges from 3.7 percentage points to 5.5 percentage points.

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