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Healthcare in Bahrain

Guiding Principle

The quality of healthcare in Bahrain is generally high and equal to that in Western Europe and in the US, except for highly specialized treatment. Owing to Bahrain’s small population and the numerous medical facilities in the private and public sectors, long waiting lists are almost unknown. For specialized treatments, however, it is sometimes necessary to seek medical assistance outside Bahrain. Locals who can afford it often go abroad. Members of the ruling families and wealthy Arabs invariably have all major operations outside of Bahrain, particularly in London and American cities.

A.  Rules and Regulations related to Healthcare

The development of medical practice and services is actively encouraged in Bahrain. Outside medical providers are entitled to hold 100% ownership of their facilities. The Ministry of Health supervises all healthcare and pharmaceutical activities and licenses all healthcare professionals. Investors looking to enter the Bahraini market must first obtain approval from the Ministry of Health. Investments in pharmaceutical production require further authorization from the Directorate for Environmental Affairs of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry1 .

1.   Labour Law

The most important Bahraini Labour Laws are:

  • The Bahraini Labour Law for the Private Sector, Amiri Decree Law No. 23/1976 as Amended
  • Bahraini Ministerial Order No. 11/1976 regarding the Organization of Physical Fitness of Foreign Workers and their Freedom from Infectious Diseases
  • Bahraini Ministerial Order No. 20/1976 Assessing and Limiting Days of Feasts, Seasons, other Occasions and Seasonal Work. Workers may be required to work on these days on overtime basis
  • Bahraini Ministerial Order No. 25/1976 regarding Compensation for Employment Injuries and Occupational Disease
  • Bahraini Ministerial Order No. 11/1977 regarding to the Working Hours during the Holy Month of Ramadan for Non-Muslim Workers
  • Decree No. 24/2007 of Bahraini Ministry of Labour regulating the Working Time of Workers during the Summer Months

2.   Healthcare Insurance Law

The Bahraini Social Insurance Law, Amiri Decree Law No. 24/1976

3.   Other Laws

Bahraini Ministerial Order No. 13/1976 regarding Work Permits and Work Cards for Non-Bahrainis

B.  Healthcare in the in Day to Day Life

Whenever the employee is absent from work as a consequence of ill­ness or injuries (sick leave), he or she shall pro­vi­de evidence of his/her incapacity by a medical certificate within three (3) calendar days starting on the first day of absence. 

An employee who has completed the probationary period shall, in case of sickness certified by a doctor nominated by the employer or by the responsible doctor at any Government Medical Institution, have the right to be granted the following sick leaves every year (Art. 82 of the Bahraini Labour Law):

the first fifteen days of sick leave (day 1 to day 15) on full pay;

the following fifteen days of sick leave (day 16 to day 30) on half pay;

the following fifteen days of sick leave (day 31 to day 45) without pay.

Business entities having ten or more employees have to pay social security contributions based on the total monthly salary paid to the employee.

The mandatory types of social security insurance are insurance against old age, disability and death and insurance against employment injuries.

Insurance against old age, disability and death is mandatory only for Bahraini employees. The contributions are paid by the employer at the rate of 7% and by the employee at the rate of 5% of his/her monthly salary.

Insurance against employment injuries is mandatory for both Bahraini and non-Bahraini employees. The contributions are to be paid solely by the employer at the rate of 3% of the monthly salary.

Bahrain has an excellent healthcare system of public and private hospitals like the International Hospital of Bahrain, the American Mission Hospital and the Bahrain Specialist Hospital. Advanced medical training institutions, like the Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland, are also established in Bahrain.

Healthcare services are provided by public, quasi-public and philanthropic organizations. However there are also a rapidly growing number of private providers. Funds are collected through many detached public and private venues. The government general revenue, the general tax income, is the main source of funding for health, covering a comprehensive scope of both preventive and curative services. The out-of pocket financing constitutes a large portion of the private health expenditure in Bahrain. Households are also charged user fees and pay premiums for voluntary private health insurance plans. A small voluntary private health insurance market exists, financing a range of services, mainly duplicative of those offered by the public health system. There are, furthermore, compulsory public insurance schemes to cover some portion of services, mainly associated with the employment status and financed by employer contributions, such as work related injuries schemes and the Ministry of Health primary healthcare scheme for employers with more than 50 employees. Other – insignificant – sources of financing include both local and international donations and individual charitable contributions including Sadaqah (“voluntary charity”), Wakaf (“dedication of properties by a Muslim through a will or otherwise”) and Zakhat (“sharing of wealth”). Khums means, according to the Shia Islamic legal terminology, that one-fifth of certain items, which a person acquires as wealth, must be paid as an Islamic tax.  

C.  Healthcare in the in Private Sector

Art. 8b of the Constitution provides: “Individuals and bodies may establish private hospitals, clinics or treatment centers under the supervision of the State and in accordance with the Law.”

The private sector’s part in the healthcare market is growing. According to the Ministry of Health’s published data, there are 11 private hospitals that account for 15.8% of total beds or 323 beds, with others being planned, and around 42 clinics and polyclinics. The aspiration is that the private sector will take a major role in the provision of medical care in the future.

Private hospitals treat the patients, Bahrainis and Non-Bahrainis, which pay the cost of their treatment out of their pockets or have them paid by third parties.

D.  Healthcare in the Public Sector

The American Mission Hospitals, which used to operate on a part-private (for those who could afford treatment), part-free (for those who could not) basis, played an important part in the development of medical services in Bahrain and can still be found today, although they no longer offer free treatment. Bahrain now has a public health service providing free or very low healthcare costs for its nationals. It is important to note that these services are also available to expatriates. The aspiration of Bahrain’s healthcare system is to provide free and convenient medical care to nationals as stated in Article 8a of the Constitution: “Every citizen is entitled to healthcare. The State cares for public health and the State ensure the means of prevention and treatment by establishing a variety of hospitals and healthcare institutions.

Since 1960, the government of Bahrain has provided comprehensive healthcare to all residents via a network of 20 primary care health centers, 3 clinics and 1 secondary and 1 tertiary care facility distributed throughout the Kingdom’s five Governorates. The government dominates the healthcare provision in Bahrain, around 90% of primary healthcare services and 80% of secondary healthcare services. Primary healthcare services are based on a family and community healthcare approach and include a wide scope of preventive and curative services such as maternal and child health, immunization, dental and oral health and workers health. Salmaniya Medical Complex is the main secondary and tertiary care facility in Bahrain. It has 891 beds and extensive outpatient services. Specialties include medicine, surgery, orthopedics, plastic surgery-burns, pediatrics, obstetrics-gynecology, ear, nose and throat, ophthalmology, oral surgery and intensive care. In addition there is a psychiatric hospital with 214 beds, 5 satellite maternity hospitals and a 130 bed geriatric hospital. A new hospital with over 300 beds, King Hamad, is under construction and will become operative in 2010. Healthcare is also provided by other government ministries such as the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Interior. The Bahrain Defense Force Hospital provides free healthcare services to members of the Bahrain Defense Force and their dependents, the Ministry of Interior employees and their inmates, employees of his Majesty the King and the crown prince. The Sheikh Mohammed Al-Khalifa Cardiac Centre provides advanced cardiac care services to the population of the Kingdom.

The government funds the Ministry of Health, some funds being collected from private employers through levy, who grants a budget to the public hospitals, which treat the patients, Bahrainis and Non-Bahrainis.

For already some time, Bahrain is encouraging businesses to provide medical insurance for their employees, to lighten the burden on the national purse.

Dr. Sabine Ebert, Dubai
.    Source: More/Resources/BahrainInvestorsCenter/Licensing+Authorities/ProtectionofMarineResourcesEnvironmentandWildlife/EnvironmentControlDirectorate/

January, 2010 Dr. Sabine Ebert
  Meyer-Reumann & Partners, Dubai Office
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