In 1960, Bahrain inaugurated a free national health service, available to both foreign and indigenous segments of the population through a system of primary care health centers and modern hospital facilities. Bahraini patients who require sophisticated surgery or treatment are sent abroad at government expense.
Medical services are provided by the government and a small private sector. Health care centers are accessible to the population free of charge. In 1990, there were 4 government-operated hospitals (including a psychiatric hospital and a geriatric hospital), 5 maternity hospitals, 19 health centers, 6 environment health centers, and 16 maternity and child welfare centers. In 1991, Bahrain had 668 physicians, 123 pharmacists, and 66 dentists. In 1997, there were an estimated 1 physician, 2.8 nurses, 0.09 dentists, and 0.2 pharmacists per 1,000 people. The effects of the Gulf War have endangered the health of many of Bahrain's people. Acute asthmatic attacks increased during the years after the war (1991–1993).
Infant mortality was 14.8 per 1,000 live births in 1999. The 1999 birth rate was 21.9 per 1,000 people and the general mortality rate was 3.2 per 1,000 people. In 1994, 93% of the country's one-year-old children were vaccinated against measles. In 1990, 100% of the population had access to health care services and 93% had access to safe drinking water. Life expectancy in 1994 was 71 years. In Bahrain, there were 28 new cases of AIDS in 1996. Malaria was reported in 258 people while polio, measles, and neonatal tetanus were non-existent.