Saudi Gazette report
JEDDAH – As part of its privatization program, the Health Ministry will establish a holding company and five regional companies to operate 15 hospitals and 100 primary healthcare centers by the end of 2018.
“Under the National Transformation Program, the operation of all public hospitals will handed over to companies while the Health Ministry will retain its supervisory role,” said an informed source at the ministry while speaking to Al-Madina Arabic daily.
The ministry had previously announced its plan to provide healthcare services through specialized companies. These state-owned firms will compete with one another in providing better services to citizens and residents.
The move aims at improving the quality of healthcare and productivity of workers. The ministry intends to privatize 290 hospitals and 2,300 primary health centers by 2030.
The holding company will set up subsidiaries in different regions of the Kingdom, which will in turn operate and manage hospitals currently run by the ministry.
“Every company will manage a cluster of hospitals and health centers with the same efficiency and standards like the private sector,” the source said.
Many health service providers will also be turned into companies.
Meanwhile, the Health Ministry has started implementing the first phase of an electronic health program in 107 hospitals. It will be applied on all 290 hospitals in phases.
“The program includes linking of all public hospitals, primary healthcare centers and private health institutions as well as pharmacies with an electronic system,” the source said.
The ministry also plans to create electronic health files for all patients.
The government spends huge amounts of money on healthcare. The value of health services provided by the ministry exceeds SR12 trillion. Direct spending on health services takes up 7 percent of the Kingdom’s budget.
Health services in Saudi Arabia have improved tremendously over the past 10 years. The infrastructure, the number of hospitals and health centers and medical facilities have all improved, matching international standards.
The national budget allocates an average of SR80 billion annually toward healthcare. The Vision 2030 document says, “We are determined to optimize and better utilize the capacity of our hospitals and health centers, and enhance the quality of our preventive and therapeutic health care services.”