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Transformation in Saudi Arabia’s Healthcare Sector

Transformation in Saudi Arabia’s Healthcare Sector

Saudi Arabia’s healthcare system is undergoing a transformation to ensure access to high-quality healthcare for all members of society.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the largest country in the Gulf, with an estimated population of 37 million. The kingdom’s healthcare system is the largest in the region, and Saudi Arabia accounts for 60 % of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries’ healthcare expenditure.

The Saudi Arabian Government has made significant investments into healthcare infrastructure, with private investment and public-private partnerships (PPP) driving further growth. The Health Sector Transformation Program is guiding continued development and restructuring of healthcare services, to ensure comprehensive, effective and integrated care for all.

How is Saudi Arabia’s Healthcare System structured?

Saudi Arabia has a well-established healthcare system, consisting of primary, secondary, and tertiary facilities. Multi-specialty hospitals provide the full range of specialised healthcare services, including transplant services and cancer treatment. The government has previously been the main provider of healthcare services, however private investment and provision is now increasing rapidly. While the public sector provides healthcare for Saudi Nationals, private healthcare insurance is now compulsory for expatriates and Saudi nationals working within the private sector. The Ministry of Health (MOH) regulates healthcare throughout the Kingdom.

Why is the Healthcare Sector growing in Saudi Arabia?

Preventive and integrated healthcare is a top priority for the Saudi Arabian government. As the kingdom’s population grows, the healthcare sector is also expanding. In 2023, $50.4 billion was spent on healthcare and social development – 16.96% of the annual government budget, second only to the education sector. This has been used to improve healthcare infrastructure and technology, patient care and healthcare indicators. There has been considerable investment into reducing the burden of non-communicable and lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular diseases. The Ministry of Health is scaling up education and training of the local workforce, and boosting the adoption of digital information systems.

How is private sector investment driving growth?

The Saudi Arabian Government views the private sector as a strategic partner in achieving its national health goals and ensuring access to high-quality healthcare for all. Public-private partnerships (PPP) are being utilised to build capacity and address gaps in provision. In recent years, the Saudi healthcare sector has been fully opened to foreign-owned businesses. Incentives are offered to multinationals interested in establishing a headquarters in the Kingdom. The Health Sector Transformation Program plans Ministry of Health plans to increase private sector contribution from 40 percent to 65 % by 2030.

What is Saudi Arabia’s Health Sector Transformation Program?

Health is integral to Saudi Arabia’s government policy. The Health Sector Transformation Programme, a part of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, is a blueprint to further develop Saudi Arabia’s healthcare infrastructure and restructure services and insurance to provide comprehensive, integrated healthcare.

To address health disparities between urban and rural areas, 21 “health clusters” are being launched across the country, and the provision of e-health services expanded. Each cluster will be an integrated network of healthcare providers serving approximately one million people. The plan will also expand capacity and enable access to timely, affordable care.

Other priorities include increasing the number of internationally accredited hospitals, investing in highly-skilled health professionals, and expanding digital healthcare innovation.

There is an emphasis on prevention and health promotion, especially decreasing the rates of smoking and obesity, improving road safety, and increasing average life expectancy within the kingdom.

Public and private sector organisations are working together to ensure a strong and resilient healthcare system, able to respond to future health risks. The plan also aims for the entire population to be included in a unified digital medical record by 2025, improving medical practice and enhancing integration. Accreditation programs, the National Accreditation Program for Healthcare Organizations (NAHCO) and the Saudi Central Board for Accreditation of Healthcare Institutions (CBAHI), have been introduced to ensure consistent standards and quality.

What opportunities are there for Western-trained doctors?

As the population of Saudi Arabia continues to grow and the healthcare sector expands, highly qualified and experienced healthcare professionals are sought after to address gaps in the workforce. Western-trained doctors, especially those with advanced fellowships post- specialisation are sought after to bring new skills and techniques to the country.


Saudi Vision 2030 –

Health Sector Transformation Program –

Healthcare System in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: An Expat Doctor's Perspective – PMC

Saudi Arabia – Healthcare

Saudi Arabia needs an extra 175,000 healthcare workers by 2030: Report | Al Arabiya


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