Saudi Arabia needs 5,000 hospital beds by 2020: Study

Saudi Arabia’s growing population, coupled with good health care infrastructure and facilities. (SPA)
Updated 07 June 2018
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Saudi Arabia needs 5,000 hospital beds by 2020: Study

  • By 2035, the study estimates that 44 percent of the population will be over 40, and 14 percent will be over 60
  • The Kingdom will require investments to the tune of SR250 billion

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia will need an extra 5,000 hospital beds by 2020 and 20,000 more by 2035 to meet the requirements of its growing population. The requirement to expand the health care facilities of the Kingdom is already listed as one of the key sectors under the Saudi Vision 2030 plan.
“In fact, Saudi Arabia’s growing population, coupled with good health care infrastructure and facilities, will help to encourage the private sector to invest in the Kingdom’s health sector in the coming years,” according to a study conducted by a consultancy firm Oxford Economics. The study said that Saudi Arabia has the largest population of the six countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council. According to the Kingdom’s General Authority for Statistics, its population currently stands at 32.5 million.
The forecast argued that the age profile of Saudis is set to change over 18 years, in the period from 2017 to 2035. “Currently, 70 percent of the population is under 40, but by 2035 the number of 40 to 59-year-olds is set to multiply by 1.5 times and the number of over-60s is set for a threefold increase,” said the study, creating the need for expanding the health infrastructure.
By 2035, the study estimates that 44 percent of the population will be over 40, and 14 percent will be over 60. The study said that the penetration rate of health care provision in Saudi Arabia is below the global average. “If you look at the number of hospital beds per 1,000 population, this ratio is lower than the global average,” said the study. The global average was 2.7 hospital beds per 1,000, while Saudi Arabia’s average stands at 2.2 beds.
The study further reveals that Saudi Arabia had a gap of 14,000 hospital beds in 2016. It expects this gap to increase to 40,000 by 2035 if the sector does not expand to match demand growth. The study also cited the implementation of the mandatory health insurance program (MHI) as one of the key drivers for the growth of the health care sector. It said that the program had led to a unified private health insurance system with currently 27 insurance companies providing cover for more than 11 million beneficiaries.
Dr. Hamdan Al-Arify, a faculty member and researcher working at King Saud University, said: “The financial requirements in the health care sector will grow consistently in the coming years.” He said the Kingdom will require investments to the tune of SR250 billion ($66.66 billion) in the health sector alone by 2030. He pointed out that “the Ministry of Health currently manages 279 hospitals across the Kingdom.”
“These hospitals receive more than 16 million patients in clinics annually,” said Al-Arify, referring to the growing private investment in the health sector.


Saudi MERS outbreaks killed 23 over four months: WHO

Updated 34 min 53 sec ago
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Saudi MERS outbreaks killed 23 over four months: WHO

  • The latest figures take the number of confirmed cases to 2,220 since September 2012, including 1,844 from Saudi Arabia
  • The disease is hard to spot, partly because it often infects people with an underlying condition such as diabetes, renal failure or chronic lung disease

GENEVA: Outbreaks of the deadly Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) killed 23 people in Saudi Arabia between Jan. 21 and May 31 this year, the World Health Organization said on Monday.
The deaths were among 75 laboratory-confirmed cases of MERS coronavirus (MERS-CoV) during the period, the WHO said, and take the total number of deaths from the disease to 790 since it was first diagnosed in humans in 2012.
The latest figures take the number of confirmed cases to 2,220 since September 2012, including 1,844 from Saudi Arabia.
One outbreak in February hit a private hospital in Hafer Albatin region, where the patient passed the disease to three health workers. There was another cluster of six cases in a hospital in Riyadh in the same month, although no health care workers were infected.
Two other clusters affected households in Jeddah and Najran.
MERS-CoV is a member of a virus family ranging from the common cold to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome. It appears to have emerged in humans in Saudi Arabia in 2012, although it has been traced in camels, the source of the infection, back to at least 1983.
The disease is hard to spot, partly because it often infects people with an underlying condition such as diabetes, renal failure or chronic lung disease.
But it kills one in three sufferers, and hospital workers are at risk unless extreme caution is taken to identify MERS sufferers early and to protect health care workers from infection via airborne droplets such as from coughs and sneezes.
Susceptible people should avoid contact with suspected cases and with camels, and anyone who has contact with animals should wash their hands before and afterwards, the WHO said. Everyone should avoid drinking raw camel milk or camel urine, or eating undercooked meat.
Three MERS cases have been reported this year outside Saudi Arabia. Oman and the United Arab Emirates each reported a case, while in Malaysia a man fell ill after drinking unpasteurised camel milk during a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia.