New figures released by Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Health reveal that the healthcare sector created thousands of jobs, with 1,364 specialists recruited from abroad, last year.
A total of 2,087 consultant physicians were appointed at various levels to provide health services across the Kingdom. The specialists hired from abroad belong to Australia, the UK, Egypt, Jordan, Pakistan, Sweden and the USA. They will try to bridge the skill gap in areas of kidney transplants, bone surgery, neurosurgery, heart surgery, infectious diseases in children and newborns, diabetes and radiology.
The influx of foreign specialists is also expected to stem the prevalence of non-communicable diseases in Saudi Arabia. These diseases, which include cancer and heart ailments, currently account for 60 percent of deaths across the world. The government has established the General Directorate of Non-Communicable Diseases to raise awareness and promote integrated health care programs among the community.
However, heavy reliance on expat medical staff is seen as unsustainable for the country. Out of the total appointments, 723 health experts were hired locally. The government is actively taking up plans to encourage locals to join training and healthcare related education. It realizes the need to involve private sector in development and expansion of healthcare facilities to improve healthcare standards.
In recent years, an increasing number of Saudis have been affected by lifestyle-induced diseases. The government has dedicated significant funds for spending on healthcare facilities and education. According to Dr Abdul Aziz Al-Humaidi, undersecretary for healthcare, an estimated 24 percent of women and 16 percent of men are obese in the country. As a result, heart diseases, blocked blood vessels, high blood pressure, diabetes and respiratory diseases are growing in the Kingdom. About 14 percent of population is also affected with diabetes.