Private sector participation in Saudi Healthcare picks up pace
Saudi Arabia has recently undertaken initiatives to increase private sector participation in its healthcare sector and improve competency of its healthcare workforce. The country has also highlighted key segments of focus in the healthcare sector.
Saudi Arabia’s growing population with expected increase in average age and rising lifestyle related diseases are indicative of the uptrend in demand for healthcare in the country. As the Saudi Healthcare sector is predominantly operated by Ministry of Health (MoH), the demand could overload public healthcare system and strain government finances. In this context, Saudi Arabia targets to improve contribution of private sector in healthcare from 25% to 35% by 2030. It is planning to attract initial investment of USD 7.3bn into the sector from private investors. Recent key initiatives undertaken by MoH include,
- Partnerships with private companies to build and operate hospitals, primary healthcare centers etc. with an initial investment over USD 3.7bn.
- Plans to set up 74 primary health care centers with initial investments of about USD 266 mn.
- Two medical cities are planned to be set up with a capacity of 1500 beds in Aseer and Al Jouf, with an initial investment of about USD 1.6 bn.
- Agreements with international companies to provide dialysis services to 8,000 beneficiaries with a value of USD 2bn over a 5-year period.
The segments of focus for the healthcare sector as outlined by KSA’s minister of health are e-health, air medical transport, nephrology care, mental health, and rehabilitation. The country has also signed MoUs with AstraZeneca, Pfizer to establish clinical research centres.
Saudi Arabia has low ratios of clinical staff to population levels (Saudi Healthcare Strategy 2017). Additionally, 55% of physicians are expatriates, highlighting the need for skill development among nationals. As part of its workforce development strategy, Saudi Arabia has launched the Makken Healthcare Model Program to develop competency of its healthcare workforce. The program includes partnership with international education institutions. According to the Minister for Health, it passes through 4 stages – the program, readiness of healthcare communities, trainer and the trainees.
Saudi healthcare sector is also seeing interest from private players. Gulf Islamic Investments plans to buy a stake in a Saudi healthcare company for USD 600 mn. Dubai-based Foundation Holdings Company plans to invest USD 67mn in the Saudi primary healthcare sector. It has already acquired a 51% stake in Saudi primary health chain Shifa Al Munthaza Polyclinic accounting for about half of the planned investment.
While Healthcare Transformation strategy was formulated as part of Vision 2030 realization program, boosted by COVID-19, pace of change in Saudi’s healthcare sector appears to be gaining traction with increasing involvement from various stakeholders.
Know more about the sector in our recent report on Saudi Healthcare.