The future of The Saudi Health Sector
In the light of vision 2030
The health sector in the KSA has witnessed a dynamic development in the last few years under the constructive initiatives taken by the government and its future vision, alongside promoting private sector investments and urging it to provide more opportunities in accordance with the Saudi Vision 2030 and the National Transformation Program (NTP). The Ministry of Health is expected to spend close to US$71 billion by 2020.
This upward trend of the health sector reflects the size of the completed and ongoing projects, as well as the sector’s huge investments that aim to increase the absorptive capacity of the hospitals in both the public and private sectors and to provide high-quality medical services in accordance with the global transformations and the digital technologies in the health sector. The Kingdom has been able to make significant strides to improve health care and enhance patient safety, as it is of paramount importance in the healthcare system, which is a key component of the NTP in the health sector. Within this framework, the KSA has been keen to implement the most important international standards in terms of quality of health services, allowing its hospitals, especially in Riyadh and Jeddah, to obtain world-class accreditation that has contributed to its status as one of the best hospitals in the region and the world.
2019 Annual Budget and New Hospitals
The health sector holds the third largest share in the budget expenditure of 2019, following the education and military sectors. The budget allocation for the sectors of health services and social development is around SAR172 billion, including about SAR47.7 billion for initiatives to achieve the Saudi Vision 2030.
The budget included the completion of establishing and equipping hospitals and primary healthcare centers across the Kingdom. Currently, 35 new hospitals in the Kingdom are being implemented and developed with a capacity of 8850 beds.
According to the 2019 budget statement, the number of hospitals receiving patients during the period 2016 – 2020 will be about 30 hospitals, which is 70% of the total planned for the five-year period, with a capacity of about 6950 beds.
Based on a report by Ardent Advisory & Accounting, the Saudi health sector is at the top of the healthcare sectors in the Gulf States, accounting for about 48% of the overall health care expenditures of the Gulf governments, and followed by the UAE (26%). This enhances investment opportunities in this sector.
Private Sector Partnership
Partnership and privatization between the public and private health sectors are evolving under the Saudi Vision 2030 within several health fields revolving around health centers, operating hospitals and new medical cities, radiology, rehabilitation, health care, home care, laboratories, and pharmacies. The private health sector in the Kingdom has played an active role in achieving an increase in the overall health services provided in the medical centers and hospitals, obviously according to a system of work and integrated plans provided by the Ministry of Health.
The health sector in the Kingdom is today one of the large economic and investment tributaries due to its importance in attracting domestic and foreign capital.
The goal of the Saudi Vision 2030 in terms of privatizing the health sector is to provide the citizens with the best services in the field of health care, serve as many patients as possible across the Kingdom, update and establish new health care centers, enhance efficiency and quality, establish a competitive market to provide healthcare services in order to meet the growing needs in the sector, establish and maintain an efficient logistics system that serves the sector in the Kingdom, and ensure the development of services to the highest international practices and standards.
Role of Ministry of Health
The health sector’s priority at the level of investments, expansions, and modern health projects reflects how much attention the human health is getting in the Kingdom and the role of the Ministry of Health in supporting the health sector by developing skills, attracting highly qualified workers to the health sector, implementing initiatives aimed at improving the service level, raising public awareness, disseminating the culture of prevention and primary health care, and most importantly, implementing decisions related to the effective health care insurance sector that apply the latest global standards.
7 Private Sector Hospitals in Riyadh
Within the framework of supporting and encouraging investment projects in health services in Riyadh, the Riyadh Development Authority announced at one of its recent meetings that it has approved the establishment of 7 hospitals across the city in the neighborhoods of: Al Aziziyah, Al Jazirah, Al Falah, Namar, Laban, Al Yarmuk, and Qurtubah. These projects are considered to be an important addition to the health services in Riyadh, providing a total of 340 new beds, as well as contributing to the private sector’s contribution to providing health services to the residents, providing new job opportunities to the citizens, and increasing coverage of health services across the city.
Public Health System
As the Ministry of Health seeks to achieve the Saudi Vision 2030 through the theme “Vibrant Society”, it has begun to prepare the public health system that aims to identify public health priorities and general needs, align with international health systems to promote international cooperation in global health, and work towards unified efforts between ministries and associations to achieve public health goals in the Kingdom.
The system also aims to provide the necessary protection and to urge individuals, families, and all social levels to maintain their health. It will also provide a framework for legal governance and assign different roles and responsibilities to stakeholders. It will be implemented in three stages:
- to study the current status of Saudi regulations and laws,
- to develop a detailed plan for the formulation of the system,
- to formulate the public health system and its executive regulations.
In the framework of upgrading the quality in hospitals, the quality and safety development project in the health sectors, prepared by the General Secretariat of the Council in cooperation with the relevant governmental and private health sectors, was adopted to develop quality and safety in accordance with the goals of the NTP 2020. This will be achieved through an elaborate health system that puts the patient at the forefront of priorities, the application of the regulations and principles of quality and patient safety management in the health sectors in the Kingdom, in addition to disseminating the culture of quality within healthcare institutions, involving them in the development of this culture and embracing it, and developing the required competencies.