Since the modern state of Saudi Arabia was first founded by King Abdul Aziz Bin Abdul Rahman Al Saud, May Allah rests his soul in peace, the public health and disease control were among the government’s top priorities. The guidance of the founding King of Saudi Arabia allowed the new government to overcome the many obstacles and challenges in the early days of the nation, despite a lack of native resources and expertise. HRH’s strategy was to strengthen the Kingdom’s cooperation with international organizations and to collaborate with highly qualified foreign experts. In addition to keeping pace with the latest international healthcare developments, the King also focused on building a solid infrastructure for a comprehensive health sector that would serve all regions of the Kingdom.
The health law in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia aims to provide comprehensive health care for all people in a fair and accessible manner. The Kingdom, represented by the Ministry of Health, provides an integrated network of health care services covering all regions of the Kingdom. The health care in the government medical facilities is provided for citizens for free and based on a new health strategy that meets the needs of the health sector.
Patient Rights and Responsibilities
To empower patients and involve them in the decisions that improves the services provided, the ministry is committed to clarify the rights and responsibilities of patients towards the health facility in the Bill of Rights, taking into consideration the human, social, and national rights and duties guaranteed by the bill to individuals to improve the quality of services provided and increase the patients trust in health facilities.
Saudi Patient Expenses and Accompanying Regulation
If the patient is referred for treatment outside the region of his residence inside or outside the Kingdom, the Ministry of Health shall bear the expenses of patients and their companions during the treatment period, according to the Regulation the expenses of Saudi patients and their companions referred for treatment outside their areas of residence.
The kingdom worked on a unified and comprehensive system for all health licensing services, which is characterized by direct technical integration with all relevant government agencies. The owner of the health facility can obtain an initial approval for a license for a health facility and the issuance of the final license for a health facility by registering on the electronic health services platform “Seha”. Furthermore, a healthcare practitioner can obtain a license to practice through the Seha platform for e-services within 30 seconds. The healthcare practitioner can also request to be assigned to a facility other than the facility he works in through the same platform. You can view the services guide from here.
Health care services are provided to more than 31 million citizens and residents, as well as several million visitors during Hajj and Umrah periods, through the health facilities that includes medical cities, specialized hospitals, university and military hospitals and primary care centers.
The ministry of health provided on its website an interactive map that shows all of the government medical facilities locations and other relative information regarding the facility.
In order to facilitate the beneficiary’s access to the health service as well as facilitating his/her transfer between the different types of care, the Ministry of Health seeks to establish the launch of health clusters in all regions of the Kingdom. These clusters would allow the movement of medical competencies and provide the beneficiary with an integrated and interconnected network of health care service providers subject to one administrative structure. Among the health clusters that launched are the Riyadh First Health Cluster and the Riyadh Second Health Cluster.
Health Care Services
The Kingdom facilitated access to healthcare services, raising the percentage of specialized consultations provided within 4 weeks from 38% to 84% and increasing the percentage of urban and rural communities with access to basic healthcare services in their locations from 78% in 2016 to 85.7% in 2020.
|Sehhaty||Sehhaty Platform: It is the unified platform of Ministry of Health, which allows users to access health information and obtain several health services provided by various entities in the health sector in Saudi Arabia.|
|(937) Emergency Call Center||Call 937, a free direct line to receive calls from patients and their families regarding health, such as providing medical consultations by doctors working around the clock, providing medical advice and instructions in cases of poisoning, and receiving reports and complaints related to the health system.|
|Ambulance Services||Call 997, or any hospitals and health centers of the Ministry of Health and the Saudi Red Crescent Authority provide emergency health services. These services include rapid response to emergencies and free emergency transportation.|
|Testing for COVID-19||This service allows citizens and residents in Saudi Arabia to book an appointment for testing for COVID-19 via Sehaty App whether they have the symptoms or not. The testing of COVID-19 can be taken in many fixed and mobile locations across Saudi Arabia. To view this service click here.|
|Registering for COVID-19 Vaccination||This service allows all citizens and residents in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to register to receive the Corona vaccine, through the (Sehaty) application. To view this service click here.|
|Medical Consultation||An e-service provided by the Ministry of Health via (Seha) App. and IVR (937), which enables beneficiaries to request for medical, mental and psychological consultation by doctors work around the clock. It offers key advice and guidelines for poisoning cases. To view this service click here.|
|Psychological and Mental Counseling (Qareboon)||A service provided by the National Center for Mental Health Promotion, providing psychological and mental counseling supervised by a specialized work staff, through the application of (Qareboon). The application represents an integrated library that contains countless information on mental health with the latest modern means and methods, such as text materials, infographics, and visual content (video). To view this service click here.|
|Treatment outside the place of residence||In the case of domestic or abroad patient treatment transfer, the Ministry of Health is responsible for the expenses of patients and their companions during the treatment period according to the regulations for expenses of referral of Saudi patients and their companions for treatment outside their place of residence. Beneficiaries can also inquire about abroad treatment request electronically, the service enables them to follow up their transaction submitted to the Medical Commissions and Health Attachés.|
Premarital screening is defined as testing couples who are planning to get married soon for common genetic blood disorders (e.g., sickle cell anemia and thalassemia and sickle cell anemia) and infectious diseases (e.g., hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV/AIDS). The premarital screening aims to give medical consultation on the odds of transmitting the abovementioned diseases to the other partner/spouse or children and to provide partners/spouses with options that help them plan for healthy family.
In the interest of KSA to limit the spread of genetic diseases and reduce the financial burden resulting from treating the injured on the family and society, it has provided 131centers in all regions of the Kingdom
Other tests for all hereditary diseases can be done through the Genome Genetic Testing Center.
|Dispensation of medicines||Medicines are distributed by pharmacies of government health facilities to citizens for free, as well as via the electronic prescription service (Wasfaty) through commercial pharmacies approved in the system to facilitate beneficiaries access at anytime and anywhere.|
|Anti-Smoking Clinics||The Anti-Smoking Clinics is an initiative meant to facilitate access to therapeutic services and integrate these clinics with other healthcare providers to ensure a standard high-quality service for all beneficiaries. Visit this page for more information.|
The Kingdom’s government is concerned with managing health crises and disasters. Due to this concern, a specialized center has been established, known as the National Health Emergency Operations Center. It is a strategic project that aims to strengthen health crisis and disaster management processes at national and local levels thus raising the level of coordination between the concerned departments in the ministry. The center also provides decision makers with the accurate information in cases of crises to benefit from them in cases of early warning. The center operates around the clock and has 20 branches nationwide, followed by hospitals and health facilities within the scope of each branch. The center’s effort is doubled in cases of millions of crowds during the Hajj and Umrah seasons.
Saudi Arabia has a range of emergency and ambulance numbers for specific health cases or rescue services. For more information about emergency contact numbers, click here.
One of the efforts of the government to protect its citizens is The Immunization Program, which is free of charge series of basic vaccinations for the child from his/her birth till he/she enroll to school - the vaccination schedule can be viewed here. It also supported a Vaccination Reminder Service that helps parents with keeping up with the vaccination appointments by sending a message to the mobile phone or the email address a week before the child's vaccination date. It has also developed the electronic vaccination certificate, which is an alternative to the paper vaccination card, and facilitates the process of displaying the vaccination information in both Arabic and English at all times, through the Sehhaty app. Furthermore, through the Sehhaty app, all citizens and residents can obtain a COVID-19 vaccine. For more information about the vaccine and its effectiveness, click here.
Digital health is one of the most essential transformation programs operated by the Ministry of Health’s Vision Realization Office. The program aims to improve general health by providing better health care services and raising the value of health care. The Ministry of Health has worked to develop a clear and concise strategy to achieve these goals in alignment with the strategic objectives of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030. The Digital Health strategy provides full functionality and expanded interoperability.
The system focuses on telehealth, cybersecurity, system certification, advanced functionality including Artificial Intelligence, analytics and models of care. Digital technology plays a significant role in supporting the delivery of the Digital Health Vision and by implementing this effective strategy, it creates the right conditions for the Ministry of Health’s digital health ecosystem to expand. The aim of the digital health care system is to transform the delivery of healthcare through the expansion of implementation of technology, in order to deliver safer and efficient healthcare services to the society of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
For more information, click here.
Unified Health File
One of the primary axes on which the system for delivering healthcare in hospitals and other medical facilities rely is the health record. Health files play an important role in preserving all patient information, such as: examinations, diagnoses, treatment, follow-up reports, and other important medical decisions. To improve the quality of health services provided and facilitate the work of health practitioners, the Unified Health File system is developed, and it is an electronic system aimed at preserving all patient information and eliminating duplication of data entry.
For more information, click here.
Telehealth involves using information technology and electronic communication means to provide services like diagnosis, examination, and medical assessment to patients. It mainly aims to facilitate communication among health practitioners themselves, and with their patients. Telehealth has also made it easier for doctors to communicate with one another, whether in terms of consultations, scientific conferences, or other medical educational activities.
The National Health Information Center is a call center that helps provide, organize, and exchange health information automatically among the bodies of health sectors. The Center is a member of the International Society for Telehealth and E-Health. The center is also linked to the Saudi Health Council and connected to an automatic network of health information with MOH and other relevant government agencies.
The medical consultation (Telehealth) service enables individuals to receive health and preventive care from their homes, through medical consultancies using text, audio, and video chat. This contributed to raising community awareness by providing accurate medical information, improving health services and reducing financial burdens on citizens and health facilities, and minimizing the time required to obtain medical consultations.
Mother & Child Healthcare
The kingdom pays attention, through MOH, on maternal and child health by providing important educational information and health services in the maternity and childcare sections in its health facilities, such as the importance of breastfeeding, the health of new-born, and premature infants. Additionally, the government pays attention to Child Health Awareness, such as Children Dental Care, Child Nutrition, etc. As for the services provided, it includes periodic maternal screenings and locations of early breast cancer screening clinics.
Mother and Child Health Passport
MOH has devised the Mother and Child Health Passport System, which is concerned with the health of mother and child. It keeps record of their illness history, monitors and follows up on their health status, and requires necessary examinations and analyses. All of this is then documented in the passport to be used in health centers, becoming the first reference for the health of the mothers and children. The passport aims to provide integrated health care, safe pregnancy, a healthy childhood and a happy family.
Reproductive and Sexual Healthcare
The State, represented by the Ministry of Health, provides reproductive health care services that include preconception, pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum periods. Pregnant woman can choose to deliver her baby in a public or private hospital; the state shall guarantee them their full rights throughout this period.
In recognition of the need for some cases to treat problems related to delayed childbearing, the State has developed the Fertilization, Embryo and Infertility Treatment Units Law, which ensures that Infertility clinics provides services in a safe and fair manner and in line with the teachings of Islam. To learn more about infertility, click here.
To learn more about Women Empowerment in the Kingdom, click here.
To learn more about children Rights in the Kingdom, click here.
Older Adults Healthcare
Older adults, those aged 65 or above, make important contributions to society as family members and active participants in the workforce. The elderly category receives great attention within Saudi society; therefore, the country provides them special programs to fulfil their needs and supports institutions and individuals to contribute to charitable work. Of these efforts: Medical Equipment Subsidy Service, Care of the elderly houses, and other programs and services available on The Ministry of Labor and Social Development page, or on The Ministry of Health page. Furthermore, the kingdom supported a "priority" service to facilitate services and procedures for them within health facilities. It also established educational campaigns and worked on increasing the awareness of the community about matters related to the elderly like healthy nutrition for the elderly, the mental health of the elderly, as well as the elderly risk of COVID-19 and other awareness campaigns.
People with Disabilities Healthcare
The state guarantees citizens all their rights regardless of their circumstances, so it undertakes to protect the rights of persons with disabilities and strive for the well-being and decent living for them and their families. Therefore, it has established Disability Code, supported Social Security Law, and encouraged institutions and individuals to contribute to charitable work for them.
The state has been keen to provide rehabilitation services to help the disabled achieve the maximum possible degree of functional effectiveness and enable him to comply with the requirements of his natural and social environment, as well as develop his abilities to rely on himself and make him as productive as possible. The Ministry of Health has also provided disability prevention services, a set of medical, psychological, social, educational, media and systemic procedures aimed at preventing or reducing disability, detecting it early, and minimizing its effects. Furthermore, The ministry has launched several initiatives that serve people with disabilities, including a priority initiative to facilitate and accelerate the procedures and services provided to some groups within health facilities, and the We Are With You initiative to serve the deaf category and facilitate communication between the patient and the doctor. To view the Ministry of Health Services Guide for People with Disabilities, click here.
Health care during Hajj
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia provides free and integrated health services to pilgrims during Hajj and various seasons through a network of hospitals and health centers that have been established for this purpose, in addition to hospitals and centers operating throughout the year. The Ministry also provides a range of different treatment services as well as minor and critical surgeries, inpatient services, and pharmacological vaccines for pilgrims and Umrah performers.
Hajj Visiting Manpower Participation Service: This service enables medical and technical staff specialized in some delicate specialties to apply for participation as part of MOH’s hajj visiting manpower. This service targets health practitioners required from inside and outside the kingdom to benefit from them during hajj season for operating MOH’s health facilities in the holy sites, as well as enhancing some hospitals in Makkah and Madinah. Interested applicants should register and submit their required documents via the service’s page, so that the Ministry can select qualified cadres with required specialties according to what will be announced.
Healthcare During the COIVD-19 Pandemic
The Ministry of Health has achieved many achievements, including the launch of many electronic applications and the development of additional services to enhance the efficiency and quality of health services. It was also keen to educate people about all the latest developments in the Corona virus, and how to prevent it and limit its spread, by answering questions clearly and from its reliable sources, and supporting awareness campaigns that provide useful information on how to protect yourself, precautionary measures, and what applications people may need during this crisis.
The government of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz, may God protect him, has taken several preventive measures against the virus, including: restricting roaming in a way that ensures the safety of everyone, and to help people fulfill their needs, the state worked to organize the roaming process through the Tawakkalna application, which provided electronic roaming permits to individuals.
Due to the rapid spread of the virus among people and the Kingdom's desire to reduce this spread, the government has identified specific sites in various cities and established centers to conduct virus tests for all citizens and residents free of charge, without the need to go to hospitals or health centers, through the Tawakkalna application.
To reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus, the Saudi Commission for Data and Artificial Intelligence launched Tabaud application, a means of notifying contacts of people infected with the novel coronavirus, enabling the user to obtain direct and proactive notifications if any recorded infection is detected, for the purpose of requesting direct health support from the Ministry.
The Kingdom cares about mental health of its citizens and residents as much as it cares about the physical aspect. It has provided services and allocated centers and associations concerned with the provision of mental healthcare and has ensured that their privacy and rights are preserved.
The kingdom is interested in attempts to early detection of cases of depression and anxiety, and to follow up cases of chronic diseases, through comprehensive health guidance (primary psychological care). It also aims to link medical treatment and provide the need for emotional support by sharing their experiences with the disease and supporting each other through interest groups. In addition, the country provides in various regions approximately 21 mental health hospitals and 99 psychiatric clinics, which can be viewed, their locations, and how to communicate with them by visiting this page. Also, help can be obtained through the Gariboon application on smartphones. Or by calling the mental health promotion call center 920033360. The Kingdom also took care of the rejected psychiatric patients, as it allocated the Ajwad Center to take care of them and provide the care and rehabilitation they need. Also, The National Center for Mental Health Promotion have provided an E-directory for all psychological services which offers an extensive information into the hospitals, private clinics, rehabilitation centers, and associations and committees located in the Kingdom.
Through the vision 2030, the kingdom aims to raise awareness and the degree of control of chronic diseases. To reduce complications, and to coexist with disease, and to enhance the concept of self-health care among community members; educational sessions in health education clinics provided for each reviewer according to his health status, for follow-up and evaluation, which will be reflected in the quality of life of the references.
Health Insurance & Foreign Healthcare
Public hospitals treatment is for all people. However, when choosing to visit private facilities, the government obligates providing health insurance for non-Saudis that works in the Kingdom under the Cooperative Health Insurance Law and its executive regulations.
As for dealing with foreign humanitarian and critical situations, the Kingdom hosts the wounded and injured people from foreign countries and provides them with specialized treatment services at the highest levels. The Kingdom also regularly hosts conjoined twins for surgical separation.
medicines & pharmaceutical products
The Ministry of Health launched a drug directory for smart devices, aimed at enabling physicians, pharmacists, and nursing staff to verify medication doses before prescribing, dispensing or administrating them to patients.
The Saudi Food & Drug Authority launched the Drug Track and Trace System to trace pharmaceutical products electronically in all phases, from production to consumption, by adopting and utilizing the latest technological means. This contributed to the generation of registering more than 4,800 health facilities and performing 1.2 billion operations on medicine bottles until the end of 2020, registering all medications at the point of sale in the Track and Trace system, protecting the community, promoting control, and ensuring the safety of medications, and knowing the sources of medications until they reach the consumers.
International awards & achievements
The Kingdom was ranked the first in the World Health Organization’s Electronic Monitoring System among eastern Mediterranean countries, which lead to an increase in the number of centers for monitoring flu infections from 15 in 2017 to 50 specialized centers in 2019 at a regional level and connecting centers to the WHO’s Electronic Monitoring System, which is aimed at monitoring flu cases and various patterns of viruses.