Here's why UAE's Yas Holding is bullish on the future of healthcare
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Here’s why UAE’s Yas Holding is bullish on the future of healthcare

Here’s why UAE’s Yas Holding is bullish on the future of healthcare

The Abu Dhabi-based investment company has been rapidly expanding its healthcare division this year

Gulf Business

The healthcare industry received unprecedented demand, pressure, as well as scrutiny during the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Being a health crisis, the onus was on the healthcare ecosystem worldwide to support patients, find solutions and stop the spread of the virus. With the situation now easing across many parts of the world, the sector – both globally and regionally – is looking to adopt new technological solutions to offer better quality care and cope with the new expectations facing it.

For UAE-based investment firm Yas Holding – which has diversified operations across several industries including healthcare – the growing potential that the industry offers has been a key driver that has led to expansion and acquisitions in the last year. Yas Holding’s healthcare division – GlobalOne Healthcare Holding (GHH) – has been rapidly growing portfolio which now includes biopharma, manufacturing, medical supply chain, hospital and clinic management, healthcare technology, and occupational health and wellness.

In September, GHH completed the 100 per cent acquisition of Gulf Inject from Ras Al Khaimah-based pharmaceutical company Julphar for an undisclosed sum. Founded in 1994, Gulf Inject – which has a production facility in Dubai’s JAFZA – manufactures 65 products including injectables, IV infusions, antibiotics, local anaesthetics and hypertonic solutions which are used for the treatment of critical and chronically ill patients.

Earlier in the year, GHH also acquired a majority shareholding in Geltec Healthcare, whose manufacturing unit in Dubai is one of the largest soft gelatine capsule manufacturing and packaging facilities in the region, with the scope to expand into various other dosage forms.

Last year, it also bought WellPharma Medical Solutions, which operates the UAE’s most advanced IV solutions manufacturing facility. Outside the UAE, Yas Holding also recently announced a strategic partnership between its healthcare management company, Global Medical Solutions International and Al-Azhar Al-Sharif in Egypt to manage and operate the Al-Azhar University Specialised Hospital.

“The transient disruption in the supply chain triggered by the pandemic has been coupled with a need to have effective and agile contributions to research and development (R&D). The role of both of these factors has expedited our investment decisions in GHH. Expenditures on healthcare, predominantly driven by the government sector, have rapidly increased in the last couple of years, which in turn has created a golden opportunity for the private sector to follow confidently,” states Ashraf Radwan, CEO of GHH.

Forecasts back this growth in the market. A report by Mashreq and Frost and Sullivan last year stated that by 2025, at least 30 per cent of the medical devices and between 30 to 40 per cent of pharmaceutical products consumed in the GCC region will be manufactured locally.

“Meeting the challenges presented by the pandemic, namely the immediate delays to surgeries, global supply chain shocks, requirements for infection control and the need for mega testing labs and drive-through facilities, has been a primary focus across the GCC healthcare scene. It has been a challenge to which the UAE has responded with strength and agility,” says Murshed Al Redaini, group CEO of Yas Holding.

That technology has become all-pervasive due to the impact of the pandemic is now well-established. The Mashreq report also found that the pandemic has catalysed GCC healthcare service providers to ramp up investments in digitisation and telehealth to drive future growth and improve operational efficiencies post Covid-19.

Annual investment in digital 2021infrastructure is expected to increase by anywhere between $500m to $1.2bn, an increase of 10 per cent to 20 per cent by 2022, compared to previous estimates of 3 per cent to 4 per cent, it found. A recent report conducted by Informa Markets, organisers of Arab Healthand Omnia Health Insights, which surveyed regional healthcare agents, dealers and distributors, clinics, medical practices, consultancies and manufacturers, found that 45 per cent identified technology as the best opportunity for business growth in the GCC, with digitisation creating the most significant impact.

“Technology is challenging the cur-rent status quo in every part of the healthcare value chain. We see digital transformation, AI and robotics trans-forming the way hospitals, insurers and government authorities operate. We predict great potential for telehealth applications and remote diagnostics as transformation agents for hospitals to signifi cantly impact how they operate and drive their outpatient care models. Soon hospital activities may be limited to ICU, emergency, specialised care and surgeries,” explains Radwan.

“Technology has – and will continue to play – a transformative role in the way we do business. GHH has ambitious plans in the making to be in the game early, with potential investments in this sector,” he adds.

While the healthcare sector is firmly on a growth path, post-Covid normalisation will continue to pose ongoing challenges for industry operators as they re-adjust to a new normal. “We believe these changes will happen organically over time, however, encouraging an uptake in elective surgery and outpatient consultations will be critical to normalising the health and wellbeing of our populations,” states Radwan.

“In sync with the shifting demands placed by patients on their healthcare providers, the role of human capital and being able to respond with agility to the changing needs of patients, will mean the ability to attract and retain talent will be critical to maintaining outstanding patient care, particularly as the world competes for talent.”Supporting the market to meet this growing demand is Yas Holding’s healthcare HR outsourcing company, Global Medical Solutions (GMS), which offers placement and retention strategies.

“Operating since 2006, GMS now employs and outsources over 2,800 staff, placed in over 50 hospitals/clinics across the country. Notably, it is a unique business that is duly registered by the UAE’s Ministry of Health to license medical professionals on behalf of their customer’s medical facilities,” says Radwan.

Looking ahead, the biggest trends set to shape the regional healthcare sector are predictably linked to technological advancements.

“We anticipate strong growth in e-health, telemedicine, remote/virtual consultation as well as online pharmacies. The adoption of AI is also expected to substantially increase within the healthcare space,” predicts Suresh Vaidyanathan, group CFO at Yas Holding.

“For Yas Holding, healthcare will continue to be a key sector primed for growth along with other verticals including agriculture, food, education, aviation and technology. Yas seeks to expand its revenue streams in the coming years across these sectors. Within healthcare, the investments are intended to be diverse, spanning bio-pharmaceuticals, distribution, licensing, technology and manufacturing,” he adds.

Looking at GHH specifically, the company is planning to expand and grow in three different verticals including –

  • Pharma and biotech value chain: Covering manufacturing, distribution and in/out licensing business
  • Hospital and patient care: Spread across hospital operations, management and supply chain
  • Global healthtech: Focusing on AI and telemedicine investments

“We see strong potential for growth, both locally in the UAE and regionally. We are particularly excited about our bio-pharma in and out-licensing company, BioVenture, and our recent acquisitions in Geltec Healthcare and Gulf Inject. Through these investments, we expect to licence and produce an impressive range of products, including cutting edge biopharmaceuticals, injectables, generic IV infusions, antibiotics, local anaesthetics and hypertonic solutions. We expect these complementary product portfolios and supply chain networks to open new markets across the Middle East and North Africa for the group,” explains Radwan.

The company is also looking for further opportunities to acquire businesses that complement its growth model and drive further efficiencies across the healthcare system.

“As an integral part of the wider Yas Holding Group, we will always be looking for opportunities to acquire new business while pursuing opportunities through our existing enterprises. We have a pipeline of strategic expansion projects, and are looking to double our revenues in three years,” he adds.

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