Overview of the Healthcare System in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
The Ministry of Health is responsible for the supervision of healthcare and hospitals in both the public and private sectors. The system offers universal healthcare coverage.
The healthcare system has two tiers. One is a network of primary healthcare centers and clinics that provide preventive, prenatal, emergency, and basic services, as well as mobile clinics for remote rural areas. The second tier is represented by the hospitals and specialized treatment facilities located in urban areas.
In 1970, the first of the government's five-year plans to promote development in a variety of areas, including healthcare, was instituted. In healthcare, the plan only meant establishing the necessary infrastructure of hospitals, clinics, pharmacies, laboratories, and research facilities, but hiring expatriate staff to work in the facilities and encouraging Saudis to pursue careers in the healthcare field.
In 1970, there were 74 hospitals with 9,039 beds. Recent statistics from the Ministry of Health for hejira year 1431, which corresponds generally to 2009, show a total of 415 hospitals in the Kingdom, with 58,126 beds. The country also had 16 government and five private colleges of medicine, 12 government and seven private colleges of dentistry, and 15 government and six private colleges of pharmacy.
The Ministry of Health operates 62% of the hospitals and 53% of the clinics and centers; the remaining facilities are operated by government agencies, including the Ministry of Defense, the National Guard, the Ministry of the Interior, and several other ministries, as well as by private entities.
The breakdown of facilities is as follows:
1) Ministry of Health Facilities
2) Military Hospitals
Saudi Arabian National Guard (SANG)
SANG is the branch of the military that is involved with defence against external threats and internal threats. SANG has four hospitals which provide care to the soldiers of the Saudi Arabian National Guard and their dependents:
Saudi Arabian Ministry of Defence and Aviation (MODA)
MODA provides defense against primarily external threats. It includes the Saudi Arabian Army, the Royal Saudi Naval Forces, the Royal Saudi Air Force and Royal Saudi Air Defence. MODA operates nine hospitals which provide care to the soldiers of MODA and their dependents:
3) Ministry of the Interior
Security Forces Hospital, Riyadh (500 beds), serves the Ministry of Interior personnel. There is also a Ministry hospital in Mecca.
4) Referral Hospitals
5) Private Facilities
For more information, see:
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