£810 / $1295 / €985
The Ministry of Health (MoH) has allocated over SR7 billion (US$2 billion) for 67 health projects throughout the country as part of its fiscal 2012 budget. The MoH said the projects include the establishment of 12 new hospitals with a combined bed capacity of 3,100 beds, as well as a number of comprehensive medical clinics, oncology centres and specialised dental centres.
In March 2012, the MoH launched a national campaign to tackle obesity and the overweight. Obesity in Arab countries has shot up in recent years, with women's obesity rates accelerating faster than men's. WHO data for 2008 showed that the percentage of the population who were obese in Saudi Arabia was 29% for males and 43% for females.
New healthcare facilities, coupled with the government's plan to recruit more healthcare personnel from overseas to work in these new centres, will inevitably see a spike in procurement of medical equipment and supplies, and other capital goods needed for these new centres.
The Saudi Food and Drug Administration (SFDA) has been given the task of developing and enforcing a regulatory system for medical devices. This will include establishing licensing procedures for manufacturers and suppliers. In what is a first step in developing a regulatory framework for medical devices, the SFDA in 2007 started the Medical Devices National Registry (MDNR), which is a voluntary web-based project involving the registration of manufacturers, agents and suppliers in the country.
The government is working on expanding the health insurance sector, which was valued at around SR5 billion (US$1.3 billion) in 2009. This was expected to increase by a further SR2 billion (US$533 million) with regulations introduced in January 2009, further expanding the insurance scheme to Saudi nationals working in small and medium-sized enterprises in the private sector. The large private sector companies already provide health insurance for their employers.
In the Ninth Development Plan, spanning the 2010-14 period, the government has allocated SR242.7 billion (US$64.7 billion) specifically for the development of healthcare, which represents 16.8% of the total budget. The allocation for healthcare in the current plan is an increase of 82.4% over the SR133.0 billion (US$35.5 billion) allocated under the last plan. The plan focuses on further infrastructure and healthcare personnel development.
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