Saudi Arabia to privatize 295 hospitals
The Saudi Ministry of Health plans to privatize 295 hospitals and 2,259 health centers by 2030
The Saudi Ministry of Health plans to privatize 295 hospitals and 2,259 health centers by 2030, according to a former director of the ministry’s Administrative and Scholarships General Affairs.
“The value of health services provided by the Ministry of Health in the Kingdom exceeds SR12 trillion. Direct spending on health services takes up 7 percent of the Kingdom’s budget for the Ministry of Health. This means that every individual is covered by $500. The rest of the budget is spent on other expenses including salary payment which cost a total of SR10 million annually,” said the former director.
He also said the health services in Saudi Arabia have improved tremendously over the past 10 years. “The infrastructure of health services, the number of hospitals and centers and the equipment have all improved and met international standards,” said the former director.
He said the ministry has studied the needs of Saudi citizens, who need easily accessible health services. “Saudis gave positive feedback to health insurance. However, they said health insurance should be made more accessible for patients. The transition from the public sector to the private sector must be smooth and well-studied,” said the former director.
He said the ministry must facilitate the transition in a way that puts hospitals and health centers under the supervision and ownership of the public sector but under the management and operation control of the private sector.
“The funding of the government toward health services now exceeds SR80 billion annually. With the transparency of the Vision 2030, citizens will have a better understanding of the ministry’s role and where it’s heading. Citizens will also be more informed and aware of funding and its utilization,” said the former director.
The health care system has benefited from substantive investment in recent decades.
The Vision 2030 text says, “We are determined to optimize and better utilize the capacity of our hospitals and health care centers, and enhance the quality of our preventive and therapeutic health care services.
The public sector will focus on promoting preventive care, on reducing infectious diseases and in encouraging citizens to make use of primary care as a first step. It will deepen collaboration and integration between health and social care, as well as supporting families to provide home care when necessary for their relatives.
“The public sector will focus on its planning, regulatory and supervisory roles in health care. We intend to provide our health care through public corporations both to enhance its quality and to prepare for the benefits of privatization in the longer term. We will work towards developing private medical insurance to improve access to medical services and reduce waiting times for appointments with specialists and consultants.
“Our doctors will be given better training to improve treatment for chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer that threaten our nation’s health.”
This article was first published by the Saudi Gazette on May 15, 2016.