Saudi Healthcare National Transformation Program
Huge budget allocated for the construction of state-of-the-art hospitals and medical cities
Saudi Arabia is home to the largest healthcare sector in the Gulf, accounting for about 48% of total Gulf governments’ spending on healthcare at a cost expected to reach $ 40 billion by 2020. KSA also plans to set up medical cities and allocated 4.3 billion dollars for this purpose, which indicates the huge budget provided by the government to promote this vital sector. The health sector budget was about $ 25 billion last year.
Saudi Vision 2030 focuses on engaging the private sector, especially in the health sector. In this context, the Ministry of Health confirms that the core of the Saudi Healthcare National Transformation Program is to build a health system based on a new healthcare model, through which healthcare is provided in accordance with principles and concepts that are important to its success. Partnering with the private sector is the main focus within Saudi Healthcare National Transformation Program, in addition to other important tools such as institutional transformation and e-health, building new mechanisms for financing and purchasing services, and others. The Saudi Healthcare National Transformation Program wants to enable a new healthcare model in Saudi Arabia through these tools.
Arabia strives to optimize the utilization of hospitals and medical centers by continuously seeking to improve the quality of both preventive and curative health services. The public sector also focuses on providing preventive medicine to citizens and encouraging them to benefit from primary healthcare as a first step in their treatment plan.
Healthcare is considered one of the most important elements mentioned in the Saudi Vision 2030, which will put Saudi Arabia at the forefront of the world. Saudi Vision states “Our ambition is for the long term. It goes beyond replenishing sources of income that have weakened or preserving what we have already achieved. We are determined to build a thriving country in which all citizens can fulfil their dreams, hopes and ambitions. Therefore, we will not rest until our nation is a leader in providing opportunities for all through education and training, and high quality services such as employment initiatives, health, housing, and entertainment.”
Vision 2030 is an unprecedented opportunity to develop the health sector with a wise approach that allows for the provision of distinguished health services, through sophisticated business models that ensure sustainability and achieve the highest levels of efficiency. The target of Vision 2030 is greater participation of the private sector within the economy and especially in healthcare while increasing private healthcare expenditure to 35%, in line with the Saudi Vision 2030 to provide unparalleled opportunities for the development of the health sector and the provision of distinguished health services.
Saudi Vision 2030 focuses on several issues for the development of healthcare by promoting a healthy lifestyle and focusing on reducing epidemics and infectious diseases as well as fostering preventive medicine.
The Ministry of Health had confirmed its support for the primary healthcare system and encourages citizens to benefit from it. The quality of health services, patient safety and health facilities will also be enhanced, in addition to increasing the training of doctors and providing better training for treating chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
The Ministry of Health focuses on:
- Increasing private sector share of spending through alternative financing methods and service providers.
- Increasing the efficient utilisation of existing resources
- Improving the efficiency and effectiveness of healthcare with information technology and digital transformation.
- Increasing training and development both locally and internationally.
- Increasing the attractiveness of nursing and medical support staff.
- Developing the primary care.
- Improving the infrastructure, facility management and safety standards in healthcare facilities.
The Saudi Ministry of Health has recently announced the launch of three primary initiatives to stimulate private sector enterprises in the Kingdom to convert into joint-stock companies. Through the stimulus package program for private sector enterprises, under the umbrella of the Financial Sector Development Program, one of the 12 programs previously announced by the Council of Economic and Development Affairs (CEDA) to achieve Vision 2030, packages of incentives and comparative advantages will be introduced for public joint-stock companies as compared to other private sector enterprises.
The three initiatives are:
First: The initiative to grant the listed companies preferential access to training programs provided by MOH. All national companies listed in the Saudi stock market will be given preferential access to training programs provided by MOH, with special privileges including incentives fees for the program.
Second: The initiative to grant the listed companies preferential access to medical reports and database. Through this initiative all national companies listed in the Saudi stock market will be given preferential access to additional information about statistical data and reports and to the medical database, as well as information and data provided by MOH’s Portal. The companies will be able to get the information they need as soon as they are available.
Third: The initiative to grant the listed companies the privileges of speaking and advertising during MOH’s prominent events.
In a qualitative shift with the Saudi 2030 Vision, and in a record time of no more than two months, using the cutting-edge technology in health services, the Ministry of Health (MoH) is expanding its telemedicine services. In so doing, the (e-health) – Seha – App will cover all the Kingdom. The App provides visual medical consultations and allows all citizens anywhere to have face-to-face medical consultations with their doctors across the Kingdom. MoH seeks to secure more users of the App to enable them more significantly to access visual medical consultations on their smartphones. Also, MoH endeavors to employ cutting-edge technologies to enhance effective communication with service-beneficiaries, and to allow them get the needed specialized medical consultations.
The App is designed to enable audio-video communication from 8 a.m. to 12 a.m. during working days, as well as weekends from 4 p.m. to 12 a.m. Accordingly, users can login into the application, communicate directly with a specialist, and have their cases diagnosed through the application. Hence, the specialist answers users’ inquiries, and then provides the needed medical consultation as well as the necessary medical procedure.
The various regions and governorates in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia are witnessing remarkable developments in their health facilities, in terms of introducing modifications and developments in existing hospitals and medical centers or in the opening of new and developed projects and departments in order to serve the largest number of citizens and residents in KSA according to the highest standards. The Eastern Region has witnessed a series of construction and development health projects that are working to raise the level of services as well as expand them, which aims to serve the beneficiaries and improve performance quality. All projects seek to develop the work environment and achieve a qualitative leap in the level of health services in order to meet the aspirations of officials in the Ministry of Health and citizens.
The seven projects that are underway include the design, construction and equipping of the modern NICU at the Maternity and Children’s Hospital in Dammam at a cost of SAR 70,270,860; each stage of the project will take 8 months to be completed, in addition to the development and equipping of the 18-bed cardiac intensive care unit at Saud Al-Babtain Cardiac Centre in Dammam; the project will be completed in 6 months at a total cost of SAR 26,118,541. Also, the project of developing sterilization facilities in the governmental hospitals in the Eastern Region, and the duration of the project is 6 months, in addition to the development of the old Ambulance Building at Dammam Medical Complex and the duration of the project is two months at a cost of SAR 739,000, the development project of the Regional Poison Control Center, Dammam for a period of three months at a total cost of SAR 462,000, the development project of the Eastern Region Health Affairs General Directorate for a period of two months at a total cost of SAR 651,000 and the rehabilitation project of the Health Directorate building in the Eastern Region; the duration of the contract implementation is 4 months at a total cost of SAR 5,485,770.
These projects reflect the diligent work of the Ministry of Health in keeping up with the Saudi Vision 2030. It is keen to invest all the financial allocations for the projects and to make optimal use of them in order to achieve the development of services and quality, reflecting positively on meeting the needs of citizens and services of patients.
Among the development projects, H.E. the Minister of Health Dr. Tawfiq Al-Rabiah has recently inaugurated 12 health projects in Hafr Al-Batin at a total cost of SAR 44 million. The projects included the Maternity and Pediatric Hospitals, King Khaled Hospital, Central Hospital, Al-Qaisoma Hospital as well as inaugurating the Regional Laboratory, Central Blood Bank in addition to laying the foundation stone for a cardiac catheterization unit project.
According to the Ministry of Health, these projects represent a new turning point in the health services in Hafr Al-Batin after operating new quality specialties for the first time in Al-Batin hospitals (with a capacity of 1000 beds). They will contribute to reducing the referral of cases to hospitals outside.
The new health projects that were launched included the Maternity and Children’s Hospital, the pediatric renal unit that serves children with chronic kidney disease and follows them up regularly, as well as children with chronic peritoneal dialysis while providing them with necessary medicines and solutions. Projects also included the “installation and operation of the magnetic resonance imaging system” with the aim of improving inpatient radiology services, by using digital technology in hospitals in order to provide high-quality medical services to beneficiaries while reducing patient wait times. The project of activating family role in healthcare at Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (Adaa) is among the projects launched by the Minister of Health, where parents can play a bigger role in caring for the newborn; hence, reducing the baby hospitalization period. In addition, the intravenous feeding unit which is one of the developmental work aiming to improve the service by providing integrated intravenous feeding for patients who are unable to feed themselves and cannot endure feeding tube for a long period of time, as well as newborns with low birthweight and cancer patients. In addition to bariatric surgery unit at King Khaled General Hospital which was enhanced with qualified medical and technical staff and cutting-edge medical appliances.
The magnetic resonance device (MRI) was installed at King Khaled General Hospital to improve radiology services provided in hospitals, and reduce the patient’s waiting time.
Hafr Al-Batin Central Hospital – Nuclear Medicine – is one of the most important sections in the health field, for diagnosing different medical cases, through which we can detect and treat some types of cancers such as thyroid cancer. The hospital nuclear medicine department will render its services to a large segment in Hafr Al-Batin province and its affiliated villages and hamlets, in addition to other adjacent areas.
A kidney center with a capacity of 11 beds was opened at Al-Qaisumah Hospital, which is enhanced with required medical equipment and qualified staff and state-of-the–art dialysis devices at the expense of Meznah Suleiman Al-Rajhi, May Allah rest her soul in peace. The Affairs also completed expansion of outpatient clinic with a special entrance, a reception office and 3 rest room for patients, and development of the emergency section at Al-Qaisoma Hospital, with the provision of car park (for person with special needs), 6 rest rooms for emergency patients and a reception area enhanced with the-state-of-the-art devices.
Moreover, the Affairs established the regional laboratory and central blood bank to meet the patients’ needs for blood bags, platelets and plasma at the highest international standards. The 2-storey building consists of sections, one for men including a waiting room, donor room (one of the new services in the city). It also includes men donor room (with 5 chairs) post-donation care room, in addition to two clinics for examining donors and ensuring their safety before donation. A female section was also established including waiting room, donor room (with 3 chairs), post-donation care room, a clinic to examine the donors as well as administration offices and a meeting room. The blood bank’s first floor features 7 laboratories equipped with the latest devices to secure blood bags and receive blood samples from blood banks all over the region, and diagnose them, using PCR technique, against all infectious diseases such as AIDS, Hepatitis C, B and syphilis, Lymphocytes, and bacterial screenings in platelets.
Also, the Health Minister has laid the foundation stone of a cardiac surgery and catheterization unit, the first-of-its-kind in the city, with the aim of ending the suffering of patients as a result of being transferred to reference hospitals outside the region to get advanced medical care. A specialized unit has been allocated for serving citizens of the province and nearby villages and areas. All open heart surgeries and catheterization procedure (diagnostic and therapeutic) will be performed.