Saudi has taken significant steps towards enhancing the future of its healthcare sector. This is in line with Saudi Vision 2030’s Health Sector Transformation.
A recent application of that is when Saudi approved the establishment of a new Saudi National Institute of Health (SNIH). The institute will boost translational research and clinical trials in the kingdom.
The Saudi minister of health, Fahad Al-Jalajel, commented on the new institute’s aims. He said it will accelerate efforts to turn research discoveries into treatments and practices. These will improve public health and raise the quality of life. The institute will also enhance prevention against health risks.
To meet growing healthcare demands, the Ministry of Health (MOH) in Saudi, is collaborating with other government bodies. Together they work on creating robust public-private partnerships (PPP) frameworks. These and other initiatives aim at spurring private sector participation in the healthcare sector.
PPPs can occupy a key position when it comes to developing healthcare infrastructure, such as hospitals, clinics, and other treatment centers. The private sector brings access to funding, design know-how, and construction and operational capabilities.
This allows governments to expand healthcare facilities, solutions and services without bearing the entire financial burden.
In June 2023, following proper tender procedures, the Saudi health Ministry awarded one of the Kingdom’s first PPPs in the healthcare sector to Altakassusi Alliance Medical.
The project hopes to offer improved radiology and imaging services to more than 1 million beneficiaries across seven hospitals.
It will support staff across each hospital, enhancing the quality of care provided in more remote parts of the Kingdom, and transferring skills and knowledge to healthcare personnel.
In a PPP arrangement, sharing risks incentivizes both parties to work collaboratively to ensure the project’s success. All this is contingent on establishing a clear and supportive regulatory framework for the success of healthcare PPPs.
Access to Saudi healthcare
The MOH is increasingly engaged in promoting the usage of telehealth and digital solutions. It is an ongoing effort to provide medical care from remote locations without traveling long distances.
Simultaneously, hospitals can make administrative decisions autonomously and quickly and create new healthcare service models that combine public funding and private sector innovation.
Increased private sector involvement will help establish more specialized clinics and hospitals throughout the Kingdom, ensuring accessible and convenient healthcare services.
AI and automation tools will enhance the tracking, monitoring, and recording of various infections and diseases and access to treatment.
Efforts are also underway by the Saudi MOH to reduce healthcare dependence on foreign workers which account for over 70 percent of physicians employed by the public sector. It is doing so via expanding recruitment of homegrown doctors.
Saudi Arabia’s promising healthcare future
Investments made over the past 10 years led to Saudi accounting for 60 percent of the GCC healthcare expenditures. This is according to Trade.gov.
In 2022, Saudi spent $36.8 billion on healthcare and social development, or 14.4 percent of its 2022 budget.
Saudi plans to invest $66.67 billion in healthcare infrastructure and boost private sector participation. This participation will grow from a current 40 percent to 65 percent by 2030, according to a Mashreq and Frost & Sullivan report. This investment will target the privatization of 290 hospitals and 2,300 primary health centers.
Saudi is also keenly aware of the fact that life expectancy in the kingdom is projected to grow from 76.4 to 81.8 years by 2050. Census studies show the Saudi population growing from 34.3 million in 2019 to 39.4 million by 2030. Increased investment in infrastructure and innovation will drive strong growth in the country’s healthcare sector where demand is steadily increasing.
Top healthcare sub-sectors in Saudi
According to Trade.gov, the dental care service sector will grow thanks partly to an increase in the per capita income.
Observers expect the country to be one of the fastest-growing digital health markets in the GCC, with the government allocating $1.5 billion for healthcare IT and digital transformation programs.
As far as health insurance, this sector’s key growth drivers include an increase in the insured population, medical insurance requirement to renew residency for expats, for all Saudis working in the private sector, and for tourists’ visa applications.
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