Since the establishment of the modern Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, public health and disease control has been among the government’s top priorities. The guidance of King Abdul Aziz Bin Abdul Rahman Al Saud allowed the new government to overcome the many obstacles and challenges in the kingdom's early days despite a lack of native resources and expertise. HRH’s strategy was to strengthen Saudi Arabia’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 Saudi Arabia.
The health law in Saudi Arabia aims to provide comprehensive health care for all people in a fair and accessible manner. Saudi Arabia, represented by the Ministry of Health (MoH), provides an integrated network of healthcare services covering all regions. Healthcare 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 improve the services provided, the MoH is committed to clarifying 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 Saudi Arabia, the MoH 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.
Saudi Arabia worked on a unified and comprehensive system for all health licensing services, characterized by direct technical integration with all relevant government agencies. The owner of the health facility can obtain 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 health facilities that include medical cities, specialized hospitals, university and military hospitals and primary care centers.
The MoH provided an interactive map on its website showing 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 services as well as facilitating their transfer between the different types of care, the MoH 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 healthcare service providers subject to one administrative structure. Among the health clusters launched are the Riyadh First Health Cluster and the Riyadh Second Health Cluster.
Saudi Arabia 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 the 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||937 is 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 MoH and the Saudi Red Crescent Authority provide emergency health services. These services include rapid response to emergencies and free emergency transportation.|
|Testing for Coronavirus||This service allows citizens and residents in Saudi Arabia to book an appointment for testing for Coronavirus via Sehaty App whether they have the symptoms or not. The testing of Coronavirus can be taken in many fixed and mobile locations across Saudi Arabia. To view this service click here.|
|Registering for Coronavirus Vaccination||This service allows all citizens and residents in 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 MoH via (Seha) App. and IVR (937), which enables beneficiaries to request medical, mental and psychological consultation by doctors who 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 MoH is responsible for the expenses of patients and their companions during the treatment period according to the regulations for costs of referral of Saudi patients and their companions for treatment outside their residence. Beneficiaries can also inquire about abroad treatment requests electronically. The service enables them to follow up on their transaction submitted to the Medical Commissions and Health Attachés.
Premarital screening is defined as testing couples planning to get married soon for common genetic blood disorders (e.g., sickle cell anemia, 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 a 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 the system to facilitate beneficiaries' access at any time and anywhere.|
|Anti-Smoking Clinics||The Anti-Smoking Clinics is an initiative 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.|
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 birth till they enroll in school - the vaccination schedule can be viewed here. It also supported a Vaccination Reminder Service that helps parents keep up with the vaccination appointments by sending a message to the mobile phone or 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. It 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 Coronavirus vaccine. For more information about the vaccine and its effectiveness, click here.
Unified Health File
Telehealth involves using information technology and electronic communication means to provide patients with services like diagnosis, examination, and medical assessment. 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
Saudi Arabia pays attention, through MoH, to 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. The services provided include 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 mother and child health. It records 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
Saudi Arabia, represented by the Ministry of Health, provides reproductive health care services, including preconception, pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum periods. The pregnant woman can choose to deliver her baby in a public or private hospital; Saudi Arabia shall guarantee them their full rights throughout this period.
In recognition of the need for some cases to treat problems related to delayed childbearing, Saudi Arabia has developed the Fertilization, Embryo and Infertility Treatment Units Law, which ensures that Infertility clinics provide service safely and fairly and in line with the teachings of Islam. To learn more about infertility, click here.
To learn more about women Empowerment in Saudi Arabia, click here.
To learn more about children's Rights in Saudi Arabia, click here.
Senior Adults Healthcare
Senior adults, those aged 65 or above, make important contributions to society as family members and active participants in the workforce. The senior category receives great attention in Saudi society; therefore, the country provides special programs to fulfill their needs and supports institutions and individuals to contribute to charitable work. Some of these efforts are Medical Equipment Subsidy Service, Care of the senior homes, and other programs and services available on The Ministry of Labor and Social Development Page, or on The Ministry of Health page. Furthermore, Saudi Arabia supported a "priority" service to facilitate their services and procedures within health facilities. It also established educational campaigns and worked on increasing the awareness of the community about matters related to seniors, like healthy nutrition for seniors, the mental health seniors, as well as the elderly risk of Coronavirus (COVID-19) and other awareness campaigns.
People with Disabilities Healthcare
Healthcare During Hajj
Saudi Arabia provides free and integrated health services to pilgrims during Hajj and various seasons through a network of hospitals and health centers 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 Saudi Arabia to benefit from them during the 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 Coronavirus (COVID-19)
The MoH has achieved many achievements, including launching many electronic applications and developing 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 Coronavirus, and how to prevent it and limit its spread, by answering questions clearly and from 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 Saudi government has taken several preventive measures against the virus, including restricting roaming in a way that ensures the safety of everyone, and helps people fulfill their needs. Saudi Arabia 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, to request direct health support from the ministry.
Saudi Arabia cares about the mental health of its citizens and residents as much as it cares about the physical aspect. It has provided services, allocated centers and associations concerned with mental healthcare, and ensured that their privacy and rights are preserved.
Saudi Arabia is interested in the early detection of cases of depression and anxiety and in 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 various regions with 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 at 920033360. Saudi Arabia 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 needed. Also, The National Center for Mental Health Promotion has provided an E-directory for all psychological services which offers extensive information about the hospitals, private clinics, rehabilitation centers, and associations and committees in Saudi Arabia.
Through Vision 2030, Saudi Arabia aims to raise awareness and the degree of control of chronic diseases. To reduce complications, and 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 Saudi Arabia under the Cooperative Health Insurance Law and its executive regulations.
As for dealing with foreign humanitarian and critical situations, Saudi Arabia hosts the wounded and injured people from foreign countries and provides them with specialized treatment services at the highest levels. Saudi Arabia also regularly hosts conjoined twins for surgical separation.
Medicines & Pharmaceutical Products
The MoH 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
Saudi Arabia 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.