4-6 September 2018
Dubai World Trade Centre
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Monday 23 May 2016

Healthcare is a huge industry in the GCC, with one forecast estimating the care it provides to be worth some $55.4bn this year alone. As demand for care rises, in line with population growth and improved standards of living, further investment in hospital and clinic infrastructure will be needed to keep up with this growing requirement.

In Dubai the private sector healthcare industry is expected to need an additional 1500 beds by 2020, according to estimates from Colliers International, an increase in capacity likely to translate into an investment of some $1.5bn.

As the emirate also aims to become a hub for medical tourists its clinics and hospitals represent a multibillion dollar opportunity for healthcare investors and developers. But delivering to the highest standards means dealing with the specialised requirements of the sector.

“One of the critical components across all healthcare design now is infection control,” explains Mike Barns, senior project manager and architect with ICME Healthcare, a specialist healthcare management and consultancy company.

“The requirement to provide materials that can control the spread of infectious diseases is very important and actually limits the options available to a healthcare architect quite dramatically.”

Barns, who is participating in a specialist healthcare design debate on the final day of The Designers’ Forum being held during the Middle East Covering and the Middle East Stone Shows, says there are a number of standards that set what can and can’t be used.

“There are a number of international standards, and a number of local standards managed independently by individual countries, which set out what materials can be used to create building finishes such as floors, walls, desk surfaces, and the like. The key document comes from the United States, and its infection control regulations have been adopted pretty well in the UAE.

“These set out such things as materials that will resist fungus, fungal growth and resist spores multiplying. In all of the new hospitals that have been designed and built, in the UAE in particular, and also in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Oman these infection control guidelines and requirements steer the selection of materials that's available for designers to use.”

ICME is helping commission a new hospital in Cairo, Egypt, which Barns says is a good example of how standards have developed. It was actually designed and built twenty years ago, but was never been commissioned. ICME was brought on to bring that hospital facility into operation.

“Twenty years ago it was okay to design with exposed concrete walls, and now it isn’t,” explains Barns. “Now, they have to be plastered and treated in a certain way. Flooring in the past could be slate tiles; now, unless they don’t have an apt finishing, we can't use that anymore.”

Now these higher standards come with demands of independent certification, where manufacturers have to be able to prove their surface materials are up to the specific requirements of a modern healthcare facility.

In addition contractors are being obliged to use the exact specified materials or go to the expense of certifying their suggested alternatives.

“A designer may specify three options for the contractor to supply, so he can go out and get alternative prices from those three suppliers,” says Barns. “But if he wants to go beyond those suppliers, there's a lot of pressure on him to show that the alternative supplier meets the healthcare standards that are put in place.”

Suppliers that can make the grade with suitably certified products could find themselves in demand as the healthcare sector continues to demand new facilities across the GCC.

Learn more at The Designer’s Forum 23-26 May, during Middle East Covering and the Middle East Stone Show

This event is partnered and sponsored by the following:

Supporting partners: BCFA, Quebec Wood Export Bureau, ProBrixia, Platinum sponsor: Al Jazeera Paints, the Designers’ Forum Sponsor: Kansai Paint, CPD Workshop Sponsor: Wetar, Featured Pavilions: India Chamber of Commerce and Indian Carpet Export Promotion Council. Official Airline Partner: Emirates, Official Travel & Hospitality Partner: Confex. ME Stone is a member of AEO and UFI and dmg events.