Counting on private sector for Saudi healthcare needs

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The healthcare sector in Saudi Arabia may come under tremendous pressure and fail to meet the growing healthcare needs of the country if the private sector does not step up and contribute.

A report by Deloitte reveals that some provinces in the kingdom suffer from undersupply of beds and facilities, which presents a lucrative opportunity for the private sector. Out of the 125 upcoming Saudi healthcare projects, the private sector is participating in only 9 of them. As private investments are relatively low, the government is finding it difficult to cope up with the ever-growing healthcare needs of its population.

Dr Hassib Jaber; “We find that the healthcare sector across the Middle East is evolving to meet growing demand, and Saudi Arabia is leading the way. The Saudi government is heavily subsidising the healthcare sector which will yield considerable results.” Dr Hassib Jaber, regional healthcare consulting leader at Deloitte in the Middle East

Till 2016, the per capita healthcare expenditure in Saudi Arabia is expected to grow at an annual rate of 6.9 percent to equal SR 4,000. However, that expenditure is not uniform across the kingdom. The Jazan region in particular, is  far behind other provinces. Compared to the national average, it has significantly fewer physicians per 1,000 population, revealing a huge gap in the provision of primary healthcare services which could be ramped-up by private sector involvement.

Currently, private sector investments are largely concentrated in the primary and secondary healthcare markets of Riyadh, Makkah and the Eastern regions. These areas comprise of about 66 percent of the total Saudi population, with a high demand for quality healthcare and rising healthcare expenditures. Rising demand for healthcare services in the kingdom has forced the government to implement policies to build infrastructure and invite private companies into the sector. However, steep medical inflation is likely to make government participation in the sector unsustainable and require greater private sector investment in the region.

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