Country Listing

Bahrain Table of Contents


Health and Welfare

In 1925, when Bahrain was a British protectorate, the government established free medical service, including immunization, outpatient treatment, and hospitalization. The availability of preventive and curative health care led to the virtual eradication of such endemic and infectious diseases as smallpox, trachoma, and dysentery. By the 1980s, life expectancy was estimated at sixty-five years. In 1993 Bahrain's comprehensive health care system included facilities for inpatient and outpatient dental care, general medical care, maternity care, orthopedic care, pediatric care, and psychiatric care. Almost all primary and secondary treatment within the public health system is free to citizens and foreign residents.

The largest public hospital is the 1,000-bed Salmaniya Medical Center, which opened in 1978. The center is a general teaching hospital that has accident and emergency facilities and fully equipped laboratories. More than one-half of Bahrain's 400 physicians work at Salmaniya. The public health system also includes twenty-seven regional health centers that provide such primary care as diagnostic services, minor surgery, dentistry, prenatal and postnatal care, and general family medical care. In addition, the system includes sixteen child welfare centers. The government also maintains the 135-bed Bahrain Military Hospital, which is reserved for members of the armed forces and their families.

In 1992 there were two small private hospitals in Bahrain. The forty-five-bed American Mission Hospital, operated by the United States-based Arabian Mission of the Dutch Reformed Church, is the oldest hospital in the country and is one of the oldest on the Arab side of the Persian Gulf. Many members of the country's ruling elite were born at this hospital, and they continue to come to it for medical care. The newer, twenty-three-bed International Hospital caters to very wealthy patients.

The government established a social security system in 1976. The General Organization of Social Insurance (GOSI) was set up to administer the program, which provides pensions (since 1986) and compensation for work-related accidents. Only Bahraini citizens are eligible for retirement pensions, but both nationals and foreign workers are covered against accidents. GOSI required all companies employing at least ten persons to participate in the program. GOSI collects 7 percent of an employee's monthly salary for the pension program and requires employers to contribute an additional amount equivalent to 11 percent of a Bahraini's monthly pay. Employers pay an extra 3 percent of their payrolls to cover all employees against accidents.

Data as of January 1993