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Tue 17 May 2011 11:03 AM

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Saudi Arabia needs 7,000 medical staff by 2021

Rise in chronic diseases, new healthcare needs to ramp up staffing needs in kingdom

Saudi Arabia needs 7,000 medical staff by 2021
Saudis Ministry of Health is planning up to 100 new hospitals and up to 2,000 outpatient centres at a cost of around $18bn

Saudi Arabia
will need to recruit at least 7,000 doctors and nurses over the next 5 to 10
years to meet the healthcare needs of its growing population, the senior director
of Philips Healthcare said.

Expatriate
medical staff are likely to provide the bulk of new recruits, required to work
in existing facilities and those yet to be constructed, Diederik Zeven said.

“Saudi Arabia
is by far the biggest investor in healthcare [in the region],” Zeven, the
company’s general manager for the Middle East, told Arabian Business.

“It will need
another 7000 doctors and nurses over the next five to ten years to address the
needs of its population and work across the existing and new facilities.

“They are
investing heavily in education, building university teaching hospitals and so
on, but there is no doubt they’ll still be dependent on expat assistance coming
from all over the region.”

The kingdom’s
Ministry of Health is planning up to 100 new hospitals and up to 2,000
outpatient centres at a cost of around $18bn, under a five-year development
strategy.

At the crux
of the overhaul is the soaring rate of chronic diseases among Saudi’s
population. One in four nationals has been diagnosed with diabetes, while the annual
cost of providing cardiovascular care is expected to reach $8.6bn by 2025 – or around
23 percent of all medical costs in the kingdom.

Managing such diseases will require an overhaul of Saudi’s
national medical system, with an increased focus of family medicine, said Ruch
de Silva, senior consultant for healthcare consulting at Datamonitor.

“Chronic disease management and primary care will be
critical to ensure that all patients will have a primary care physician to
manage their basic healthcare needs and refer their patients for specialist
consultations and treatment,” he said.

Saudi Arabia’s
aging population is an added burden- the over-65 age group has increased at a
Compound Annual Growth Rate of five percent, putting huge strain on hospitals
and clinics.

 “The majority of
Saudi Arabia’s population today is in the age group of 15 to 65 years, but in
the next 14 years, researchers expect the number of over 65s to have increased
threefold,” said Anurag Dubey, industry manager for healthcare at Frost and
Sullivan.

The kingdom is increasingly likely to look to the private
sector to help shoulder the cost burden, through schemes such as compulsory
health insurance and the privatisation of facilities.

Asked how the Kingdom might staff its healthcare developing
sector, de Silva said various incentives will be required to entice both expats
and Saudi nationals.

“The GCC region generally depends on expatriate healthcare
professionals to meet the demands of the population, but equally, Saudis need
to be encouraged to pursue careers in the healthcare field as it would be
dangerous to rely on expatriates to meet future healthcare needs.”

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Sol 9 years ago

It's a scary thought. The usual GCC policy of taking unqualified nationals and slotting them into the top jobs at high remuneration levels produces what in this case?

Laiman 9 years ago

The nationals of the GCC are aware that they are envied by those who're trying to put their noses in issues where they have no real experience with. That's why they have to secure every possible position for the best of their generation. I know this is not the case with other countries where they dumped their citizens.

DR E. O. ANIGHORO 7 years ago

i was given an employment the MOH in May 2010. as at now, i am 3 post qualification as a consultant oral and maxillofacial surgeon so i will like to be re employed now.