Amid a GCC-wide rise in demand for pharmaceuticals and medical devices, Bahrain and India are poised for a boom in healthcare trade.
Ambassador Piyush Srivastava, speaking at a webinar highlighting opportunities between the two countries, said that the status of India as the "pharmacy of the world" can be further enhanced through new Gulf partnerships.
Current estimates indicate that with demand expected to grow, the pharmaceutical industry across the GCC, especially in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, is worth $20 billion.
But as many as 80 percent of drugs are imported from outside the country, creating a huge opportunity to set up shop for healthcare exporters such as India, the world's largest generic drug supplier.
Highlighting Bahrain's "immense opportunities" as a strategic investment hub for healthcare, Srivastava said: "India has a strong presence in Bahrain's pharmaceutical and homoeopathy sectors and aspires to collaborate further by contributing to the already strong healthcare infrastructure."
"There are ample opportunities and a conducive environment for joint ventures or the public-private partnership model to set up manufacturing units locally."
Healthcare is a crucial policy focus area for the government of Bahrain, with the increasingly rising population driving demand for modern medical services and innovations.
The kingdom is focused on becoming a leading centre for modern medicine in line with its Vision 2030, providing high-quality and financially sustainable care to patients in the GCC region.
According to the Medical Tourism Association, Bahrain was ranked among the region's top medical tourism destinations earlier this year. In its ranking as a medical tourism destination, Bahrain's high number of annual tourists and connection to neighbouring Saudi Arabia via the 25km King Fahd Causeway were highlighted as key factors.
Bahrain's population is projected to hit around 2.2 million in the next decade, a rise of 55 percent from 2016, driving significant demand for healthcare and hospital beds. In fields including haematology, genetic disorders, rehabilitation, diabetes management, gastroenterology and more, there is a major market gap for specialised healthcare provision.
Tala Fakhro, Bahrain EDB's Market & Strategy Intelligence Executive Director, said: "Healthcare has long been a vital priority area for the government of Bahrain, which aims to make the Kingdom a leading hub for modern medicine."
The population of the country, which has a strong unmet need in many disease areas is increasing rapidly, and Bahrain is providing unprecedented access to this rapidly expanding market for global pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers.
This is a natural next step for the constantly developing partnership between Bahrain and India, a relationship that stretches back centuries to when pearls and spices were traded by the early Dilmun and Indus Valley civilizations.
Since then, this historic trade relationship has developed into aluminium, iron and steel, which has in turn begun to transition towards exports of services, with a specific emphasis on FinTech and ICT.
Now in the light of the catalytic effect of the global pandemic, the relationship between Bahrain and India is once again on the verge of exciting transition.
"We share the optimism of Ambassador Srivastava with regard to pharmaceuticals and medical devices, and look forward to discussing in more detail how the 'world pharmacy' can best establish business ties with the Gateway to the Gulf in these exciting fields."
Bahrain Specialist Hospital partnered with Apollo Hospitals in December last year which treats more than 60,000 GCC people in India annually, to open a new cardiac centre in the Kingdom.
Bilateral trade between India and Bahrain is currently about $1.3 billion, with more than 3,000 registered joint ventures between the two countries, as well as hundreds of prominent Indian companies with registered branches in the kingdom.