A new report has revealed the Saudi government’s intentions to completely fill all medical jobs in the kingdom with Saudi nationals within the next five years.
The Saudi government is aggressively working on plans to complete Saudization of the medical sector, while factoring in the availability of qualified staff and the industry’s growth rate. A study by the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industry shows that foreigners make up 51 percent of the health sector workforce. The study also called for the need to review the existing Saudization programs in the healthcare industry and skill levels of experienced overseas technicians.
Saudi Arabia has set aside USD 4 billion for various new healthcare projects in the kingdom. These funds will be allocated to establish 22 new medical projects throughout Saudi Arabia — the GCC’s most populous country. Other projects directly approved by the Kingdom include the development of 19 medical complexes and hospitals with a capacity of 7,400 beds. Further, three specialized centers would be set up to treat children.
A GCC Healthcare report by Kuwait Financial Centre (Markaz) highlights, healthcare expenditure in the region is expected to surge to USD 79 billion in 2015. Explosive growth in the GCC countries, increase in GDP, changes in disease profile of patients and an improvement in life expectancy will drive investment in the healthcare sector. Currently, five major healthcare projects are nearing completion in the six GCC countries. Public health expenditure is expected to equal 64 percent of the total spending on healthcare projects.
The rising demand for healthcare services in the region has forced governments 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, requiring greater private sector investment in the region.