The health care sector is one of the largest in the region in terms of expenditures, size, activity and potential. Annual spending on health care is estimated at $18 billion, 76% by the Saudi government. The government has allocated $16.3 billion for the healthcare sector in the 2010 budget. The funds will be used to finance 92 new hospitals with 17,150 beds and additional Primary Healthcare Centers (PHC) and to renovate an additional 22 hospitals. With an annual population growth rate of 2.5% to 3%, Saudi Arabia would require an additional capacity of around 47,000 beds for a total population of over 37 million by 2020, driven by an aging and increasingly wealthy population seeking more specialist healthcare treatments. Demand for hospital beds and a health care service is increasing by 4.6% annually. At the very least, 11 new hospitals (average 200 beds per hospital) need to be built per year to keep pace with population growth. Hospital beds are likely to grow from 53,519 to 70,000; demand for physicians is expected to rise from 40,000 to 54,000 - and the number of hospitals will likely rise from 387 to 502.
The high budgetary allocation valued at $16.3 billion for the healthcare sector and new health projects, expansion and growth of existing hospitals and clinics, privatization, compulsory healthcare insurance, the aging population, and greater material wealth along with an upsurge in lifestyle diseases and favorable government policies combine to boost the demand for healthcare services. This demand has created an ideal environment for purchases of new medical equipment and increased investments in these sectors.
By Maisa Al Tawil