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Running head: HEALTH CARE SYSTEM IN SAUDI ARABIA 1

Health Care System in Saudi Arabia

**** ***** ****

HCM 500 -Health Care Systems

Colorado State University-Global Campus & Saudi Electronic University

Dr. *****

October 8, 2016

https://www.coursehero.com/file/20014693/Week-2-CT/

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HEALTH CARE SYSTEM IN SAUDI ARABIA 2

Health Care System in Saudi Arabia

Introduction

Saudi Arabia government gives the health care services a high priority at all levels.

Therefore, the health of Saudi populations and the health services in general has a great

revolutionary forward steps in a short time. This improvement was extraordinarily in the term of

quantity and quality as stated by Almalki, Fitzgerald & Clark, (2011). Despite this improvement,

the health care in Saudi Arabia still facing some challenges which need improvement of strategies

as well as policies by the government and high authority in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Demographically as stated in Health Statistical Annual Book (MOH, 2015) there is a rapid

growing of population size in Saudi Arabia with total estimated population size reaching to around

31.5 millions and about 33 % of them are non-Saudis.

Historically, (as mentioned by Salloum, 2014) the corner stone has been laid in the

foundation of health care system in Saudi Arabia started in the beginning of the last century

specifically around 1925 with public health department in the city of Makkah which deliver a free

health care to pilgrims and even to the local people, but the systematic organization has been

started in 1951 as a ministry of health (MOH). In less than a half century there were a dramatically

changes and a great development in delivering health care in country. The number of hospitals has

a considerable grown from 74 in 1970 to 274 in 2015 with total hospital beds of 41,279 and the

rate of beds per 10,000-population was 13.11. The MOH has also operated more than 2282 primary

health care centers distributed all over the vast kingdom.

In this article there will be a great focusing on the health care system in Saudi Arabia. The

article mainly critically analyzes a review article entitled by “Health Care System in Saudi Arabia:

an overview” and has published in 2011 in Eastern Mediterranean Health Journal by M. Almalki,

G. Fitzgerald and M. Clark.

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HEALTH CARE SYSTEM IN SAUDI ARABIA 3

Health Care System and Managerial Issues

The article (Almalki, Fitzgerald & Clark, 2011) gives an overview about health care system in Saudi Arabia regarding the development, structure of the system and ended with some

challenges that facing the system.

The authors specify in their article title the whole system, however they focused mainly in

public health care system of the ministry of health. In fact, the situation in Saudi Arabia regarding

health care services delivery is so complicated. It has been mentioned long time ago in some

articles (Berhie 1991) that health services has provided by more than 13 governmental agencies in

1987, including the MOH. For the time being it is obviously noticeable that the King Salman has

cancelled a lot of high councils and merge two ministries together in a clear sign of the failure of

the old ways and strategies for managing the country. The same way is applied to health care

providers. Health care system is still nowadays (as stated by Sebai ZA, 2001) provided by more

than 9 agencies -even after the last royal decrees in January 2015-, and the management of these

services is not uniform.

Multiplicity of health service provider has been mentioned by the authors and state that

there is no proper coordination or appropriate communication channels between these providers,

which means a lot of resources wasting and much duplication of efforts, but the article focused

mainly in public health care system of the ministry of health. Only one justification for the authors

to focus mainly on public health care system of the ministry of health is that around 60% of health

care services is provided by MOH (as stated by O. Safi, 2016) and another article (Walston, S.

2008) stated that the percentage is around 62 % and actually MOH bears the major responsibility

of primary health care (Aldossary, 2008).

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HEALTH CARE SYSTEM IN SAUDI ARABIA 4

Human Resources

The shortage of the health care providers is a challenging issue and the article has discussed

health workforce thoroughly by reviewing the official reports from MOH. The most interesting

thing that the authors compare the local status of manpower regionally and even globally. It has

been recognized that there is a global shortage of health care providers and it is obvious that many

countries have scanty numbers of health professionals to provide essential health care services

(Scheffler, 2008) and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is part of this world and not away from these

challenges.

Furthermore, in Saudi Arabia there is shortage in local and in Saudi manpower. And in

spite of some increase progression of “Saudization” of health professionals, however still there is

a great shortage as result of increase health infrastructures and rapid growing population. At 1998

the percentage of Saudi doctors and nurses were 18.7 and 18% respectively (Sebai ZA, 2001), and

recently in 2015 the percentage is around 29.7% for Saudi doctors and 52.31% for Saudi nurses

(Health Statistical Annual Book, MOH, 2015). Its estimated that by the year of 2020 the Saudi

doctors representing only 32% of total health professionals.

All of these current percentage and estimates urge to increase and accelerate the education

and training of Saudi workforce in all medical fields. That is the solution for this human resources

challenges stated by the authors. Furthermore, the article gave an example for what have done

already regarding this issue. The example was the great cooperation between the ministry of

education and the ministry of health by giving the priority for more medical specialties scholarship

in the stage four of King Abdullah international scholarship programme. This solution come along

with other article specially (Sebai ZA, 2001) which they add an involvement of the private sector

in medical education and training as well as facilitate the establishment of new governmental and

private medical institutions all over the country.

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HEALTH CARE SYSTEM IN SAUDI ARABIA 5

Health Insurance and Privatization of Health Services

Financing health care services is a great challenge facing the health care system in Saudi

Arabia especially nowadays as oil price going more down. As mentioned previously in the

introduction that there is huge raising in population size coincided by increase health care need

and demand and knowing that the total expenditure on health services mainly from government

and that services are still provided free-of-charge for the citizens, all of these produce a great cost

pressure on the MOH and on the government as a whole.

Regarding the financing the health system the authors claimed that the cooperative health

insurance and privatization of health services are the solutions for this challenges. The article

explained the stages of implementation of health insurance and mention the new strategy for

privatization of health services. However, the authors failed to support their claim by scientific

evidence, and the reference that provided in this claim were two articles in the newspaper and both

were in (Al-Egtisadia Daily, 2003 & 2009) and another article (Walston, S. 2008) which again

refer to another newspaper article in (Arab News, 2007).

In addition, there are some evidence against this claim (as mentioned by Hsiao, 2007) that

health insurance and privatization of health services make poor people suffer from lack of health

accessibility and put some barriers to health care and the outcomes of that solutions did not reduce

health care funding and didn’t also improve health care outcomes in the developing or even

developed countries.

Conclusion

The article gives a good overview about health care system in Saudi Arabia with historical

background. The Authors focused primarily on the public health care system of the ministry of

health and they should include other sectors providing the health care services or to change the

title to specify reviewing the public health care system and the challenges facing the MOH.

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HEALTH CARE SYSTEM IN SAUDI ARABIA 6

Regarding manpower and health workforce, the article has discussed this issue in a nice

way and supported this topic with another articles.

The most critical mistake of this article is the topic of health insurance and privatization of

health services. The authors did not support their claim by scientific evidence, and it could be due

to insufficiency of local information and research in that topic.

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HEALTH CARE SYSTEM IN SAUDI ARABIA 7

References

Aldossary, A., While, A., & Barriball, L. (2008). Health care and nursing in Saudi Arabia. Eastern Mediterranaen Health Journal, 55(1/2), 31–37.

Almalki, M., Fitzgerald, G., & Clark, M. (2011). Health care system in Saudi Arabia: an overview. Eastern Mediterranean Health Journal, 17(10), 784–793.

Berhie, G. (1991). Emerging Issues in Health Planning in Saudi Arabia: the Effects of Organization and Development on the Health Care System. Soc Sci Med., 33(7), 81–24.

Hsiao, W. C. (2007). Why Is A Systemic View Of Health Financing Necessary? Health Affairs, 26(4), 950–961.

Safi, O. (2016). The Challenges For Saudi Arabia Health Care System. Indian Journal of Applied Research, 6(May), 231–233.

Salloum, N. A., Cooper, M., & Glew, S. (2014). The development of primary care in Saudi Arabia. InnovAiT: Education and Inspiration for General Practice, 8(5), 316–318.

Saudi Arabia Health Statistical Annual Book. Riyadh, Saudi Arabia: Ministry of Health (2015).

Scheffler, R. M., Liu, J. X., Kinfu, Y., & Dal Poz, M. R. (2008). Forecasting the global shortage of physicians: an economic- and needs-based approach. Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 86(7).

Sebai, Z. a, Milaat, W. a, & Al-Zulaibani, A. a. (2001). Health Care Services in Saudi Arabia: Past, Present and Future. Journal of Family and Community Medicine, 8(3), 19–23.

Walston, S., Al-Harbi, Y., & Al-Omar, B. (2008). The changing face of healthcare in Saudi Arabia. Annals of Saudi Medicine, 28(4), 243–250

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