Ministry of Health, KSA
The government of Saudi Arabia gives the health sector high priority in order to provide all Saudi citizens with free, high standard health care. The principal objective of the Ministry of Health (MOH) is to provide a whole range of health services (preventive, curative, educational and rehabilitative) to the entire population. This is achieved through a network of hospitals and primary healthcare centers which are distributed throughout the country. Standard design hospitals of 150, 250, and 350 beds are located in population centres, supplemented by 20-50 bed clinics in towns and villages, based on the number of people to be served. Special mobile clinics service rural areas and are used to provide additional support to the cities of Mecca and Medina during the Hajj period.
MOH Hospital Facilities - Expansion
The Saudi health sector is facing new challenges as the government continues to finance health services for a rapidly growing population of 22.7 million, which is growing by 3% per annum. In its 2003 budget, the Saudi government has earmarked $ 6.2 billion for health and social care.
Healthcare in Saudi Arabia, traditionally provided by the Ministry of Health (MOH), is increasingly being shared with other public and private agencies. According to the latest available figures, by the end of 1999, the total number of hospitals in the Saudi health sector stood at 314 (45,729 beds). The Ministry of Health has finalized plans to establish eight new hospitals and renovate and expand the existing hospitals.
The Ministry of Health is the major healthcare service provider with 63% of hospital beds, followed by the private sector with 13%, the Ministry of Defense and Aviation with 8%, the Ministry of Higher Education with 7%, the National Guard with 3%, and the General Organization for Social Insurance, the Royal Commission and the Ministry of Interior with 2% each in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Increased Healthcare Manpower
The great expansion in healthcare all over the Kingdom requires a large number of health personnel and therefore the health manpower in the Ministry has increased considerably. In 1970 the Ministry's total health manpower was 4,438; this number had risen to 73,314 in 1999. The number of physicians has increased from 789 to 14,786, nursing staff from 2,253 to 36,340 and allied health personnel from 1,396 to 22,188 in the same period. The need for continuous improvement in and development of health sector products and services are increasing. The government's budget allocation for the year 2003 was in excess of $6.5 billion.
The local medical training programmes have not kept up with the growing demand for physicians and other para-medical staff. The Kingdom's health services are therefore heavily dependent on Expatriates, which provide around 80% of Physicians, Nurses and Paramedical Technicians.
The rapidly increasing demand for health services has created renewed concerns for the government of Saudi Arabia - to attract qualified medical personnel from the countries of Indian subcontinent by introducing the revised pay structure for doctors, nurses and paramedical staff.