The Healthcare System of Saudi Arabia

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
These serve the general public and are located in both the large cities and the small towns throughout Saudi Arabia.

2) Military Hospitals
These serve members of the Saudi Arabia armed forces and members of their families, according to the branch of the military in which the individual serves.

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:

  • King Abdulaziz Medical City - Riyadh (690 beds, formerly the King Fahad National Guard Hospital);
  • King Abdulaziz Medical City - Jeddah (350 beds, formerly the King Khalid National Guard Hospital);
  • King Abdulaziz Medical City - Dammam (112 beds);
  • King Abdulaziz Medical City - Al Ahsa (300 beds);
  • The Saudi Arabian National Guard also operates clinics in Riyadh and Taif.

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:

  • Riyadh Armed Forces Hospital (also known as Riyadh Military Hospital Al Kharj), Riyadh (1,100+ beds);
  • Prince Sultan Cardiac Center, Riyadh (150+ beds);
  • North West Armed Forces Hospital, Tabuk (350 beds);
  • King Fahd Military Medical Complex, Dhahran (316 beds);
  • Armed Forces Hospital at King AbdulAziz Airbase, Al Khobar (280 beds);
  • King Fahad Armed Forces Hospital, Jeddah (400+ beds);
  • Armed Forces Hospitals, Southern Region (King Fahad Military Hospital and the King Faisal Military Hospital), Khamis Mushayt (total 258 beds);
  • Al Hada Hospital, Taif (500+ beds; also operates the Prince Sultan Hospital, the Prince Mansour Hospital, and a rehab centre);
  • King Khalid Military City (also known as Hafr Al-Batin Armed Forces Hospital), Hafr Al-Batin (330 beds);
  • Wadi Al-Dawassir Hospital, Wadi Al-Dawassir (100 beds).

3) Ministry of the Interior
This serves members the ministry of the interior, including the police and customs collectors.

Security Forces Hospital, Riyadh (500 beds), serves the Ministry of Interior personnel. There is also a Ministry hospital in Mecca.

4) Referral Hospitals
Every citizen is eligible to go to the referral hospitals for specialized care. These facilities include:

5) Private Facilities
Here are just a few of the private facilities in Saudi Arabia:

  • For-Profit: Saudi German Hospital, Jeddah; Dr. Erfan & Bagedo Hospital, Jeddah; Kingdom Hospital, Riyadh
  • Saudi ARAMCO Hospital, Dhahran & Al Hasa (405 beds and 80 beds); serves employees of the oil company Saudi ARAMCO, and their family members
  • Riyadh Care Hospital (also known as Social Insurance Hospital (GOSI)), Riyadh (255 beds)
  • Royal Commission Hospitals, which serve employees and their family members of the Industrial cities located at: Jubail, on the east coast of Saudi Arabia; Yanbu, on the west coast of Saudi Arabia
  • SAAD Medical Centre, Al Khobar
  • Soliman Fakeeh Hospital, Jeddah (600 beds, and the largest private hospital in Saudi Arabia; it is contracted to Saudi ARAMCO)

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