Assessing trade in health services in countries of the Eastern Mediterranean from a public health perspective

Sameen Siddiqi, Azza Siddiqi, Zafer Mirza, Nick Drager, Belgacem Sabri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Assessing trade in health services (TiHS) in developing countries is challenging since the sources of information are diverse, information is not accessible and professionals lack grasp of issues. A multi-country study was conducted in the Eastern Mediterranean Region (EMR) - Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Tunisia, and Yemen. The objective was to estimate the direction, volume, and value of TiHS; analyze country commitments; and assess the challenges and opportunities for health services. Trade liberalization favored an open trade regime and encouraged foreign direct investment. Consumption abroad and movement of natural persons were the two prevalent modes. Yemen and Sudan are net importers, while Jordan promotes health tourism. In 2002, Yemenis spent US$ 80 million out of pocket for treatment abroad, while Jordan generated US$ 620 million. Egypt, Pakistan, Sudan and Tunisia export health workers, while Oman relies on import and 40% of its workforce is non-Omani. There is a general lack of coherence between Ministries of Trade and Health in formulating policies on TiHS. This is the first organized attempt to look at TiHS in the EMR. The systematic approach has helped create greater awareness, and a move towards better policy coherence in the area of trade in health services.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)231-250
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Journal of Health Planning and Management
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2010
Externally publishedYes


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