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Fri 5 Oct 2018 10:06 AM

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Saudi Arabia said to require 3,700 extra doctors by 2020

New Colliers report also forecasts the need for additional 18,400 hospital beds to cope with population rise

Saudi Arabia said to require 3,700 extra doctors by 2020

Saudi Arabia needs to recruit at least 3,700 additional doctors by 2020, according to a new report by Colliers.

The Gulf kingdom also requires up to an extra 18,400 hospital beds, based on pessimistic population growth statistics of 1.02 percent from the World Bank.

Its Saudi Healthcare Overview 2018 report also said the country needs to invest up to $6.2 billion in healthcare real estate and a further $2.2 billion on medical fit-outs by the end of the decade.

Colliers said the healthcare market in Saudi Arabia is driven by public expenditure at 74.2 percent (2016 figures) and 25.8 percent by private sector, which is expected to increase to 28.1 percent by 2025.

Currently, the top 15 countries in the world per capita healthcare spending is between three and eight times greater than Saudi Arabia, it added.

The report said that between 2010 and 2016 the number of doctors per 1,000 population increased from 2.4 in 2010 to 2.8 while the ratio of nurses improved from 4.8 to 5.7 and number of beds per 1,000 population increased from 2.1 to 2.2.

"Recent trends and industry dynamics require operators in the healthcare sector to make challenging decisions. Whilst the healthcare system has improved across the region including Saudi Arabia the sector offers opportunities for investors/operators," Colliers said in the report.

One of the main opportunities surrounds the Saudi population which is estimated at 32.6 million in 2018, and is expected to reach 45.2 million by 2050, based on the more conservative 1.02 percent average annual growth.

"This increase in population is expected to fuel the demand for healthcare services in the kingdom. Concurrently, the healthcare system needs to treat emerging lifestyle diseases and illnesses associated with modern and urban lifestyle, partially due to the growing middle-income population," the report noted.

In 2017, Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) announced that foreign investors can have 100 percent ownership in health and education sectors, and once implemented this is expected to boost private sector investment in healthcare in the country, Colliers said.

It added that the healthcare and social services sector has been allocated 15 percent (SR147 million) of the total 2018 budgeted expenditures, up from actual spend of SR133 million during 2017.

This 10.5 percent increase in the allocation reflects a strong indication of potential demand as well as the government’s willingness to augment growth and improvement within the sector, Colliers noted.

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