The quality of healthcare in Bahrain is generally high and equal to that in western Europe and the USA, except for highly specialised treatment.
Owing to Bahrain’s small population and the numerous medical facilities in the private and public sectors, long waiting lists are almost unheard of. For specialised treatment, however, it’s sometimes necessary to seek medical assistance outside Bahrain, and locals who can afford it often do so. Members of the ruling families and wealthy Arabs invariably have all major operations outside their own territory, particularly in London and American cities. Although some of Bahrain’s doctors and medical staff are local, the vast majority are foreign and were trained in their home countries. The attraction of Bahrain for them is the same as for most other expatriates: financial reward.
American Mission Hospitals, which used to operate on a part-private (for those who could afford treatment), part-free (for those who couldn’t) basis, played an important part in the development of medical services 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 cost health care for its nationals and it’s important to note that these services are also available to expatriates. For some time, however Bahrain has been encouraging businesses to provide medical insurance for their employees, to lighten the burden on the national purse. Tourists visiting Bahrain should have travel insurance that includes cover for private medical treatment, but they also have access to state medical facilities in the case of emergencies.
All residents are entitled to free healthcare at the public hospitals, although it is possible to purchase private medical insurance for private healthcare. Expatriates who move to Bahrain for work may find that private medical insurance is included as part of the benefits package. Expatriates will also find that if they need medical attention they can be dealt with fairly quickly due to the relatively small population in the country. It is also an advantage that many of the medical staff have trained abroad, so they are often very good English speakers.
There are a number of health risks that expatriates should take into consideration when they move to Bahrain. Some people suffer respiratory problems which are caused by the dust and sand in the air. Those who are manual workers or who spend a great deal of time outdoors may find that they are prone to sunstroke and/or sunburn. There are regulations to prevent people being made to work outdoors in extreme temperatures but during the summer months temperatures are continually high. Newcomers to the country should also be aware of the dangers of dehydration.