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More than 41,000 new hospital beds are needed in Saudi Arabia over the next four years to cope with escalating demand from a rapidly growing population

 

More than $18 billion has been committed to Saudi Arabia's healthcare construction over the next five years but industry insiders are questioning whether new hospitals and other healthcare facilities will be delivered quickly enough.

 

The commitment includes the construction and equipping of primary healthcare centers, the building of 120 new hospitals and the upgrade of four existing hospitals.

Senior figures, from both the kingdom and the broader region, will discuss the issues that could potentially delay the completion of healthcare projects, such as bureaucracy surrounding permits, visas, contracts, payments and importing specialist parts and machinery, at a summit in Riyadh next month.

 

A National Commercial Bank report said the hospital beds-to-population ratio over the past 10 years had declined to 2.2 beds per 1,000 citizens at the end of 2009.

To achieve the required ratio of 3.5 beds per 1,000 people by 2014 will require an additional 41,600 hospital beds, almost doubling the current number of 55,000.

It said population growth and increasing life expectancy were among key factors driving healthcare demand in the country. The study also showed life expectancy for Saudis is now 73 years of age, up nine percent in the last two decades.

 

Nour Soliman, summit director, IQPC, organiser of Saudi Construction Summit, said: "Saudi Arabia, the Gulf's largest economy and fastest growing population, will face a sharp increase in healthcare demand over the next decade and beyond.

"Various factors such as high birth rates, increasing rates of non-communicable diseases including diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular diseases and other obesity-related illnesses will add pressure on healthcare services."

 

According to a survey released by the Saud Diabetes and Endocrine Association last year, more than 70 percent of the Saudi population is obese

"To speed up the Saudi Arabian healthcare sector development and meet the Saudi nationals' health needs without adversely affecting economic progress, it has become imperative to increase private sector participation in these expansion plans," added Soliman.

 

During the summit, a number of leading industry figures will address various healthcare and related social issues.

Senior representatives from the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Health, King Saud University, King Abdullah Institute for Research and Consulting Studies and International Hospitals Construction Co will be key participants in the event.

 

By Andy Sambidge

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Arabian Business.com

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